Qatar’s national carrier has signed a multi-million dollar deal with FIFA to become an official sponsor for the next five years.
This means Qatar Airways’ name will be on several upcoming football-related events around the world, including the 2018 World Cup in Russia, as well as the 2022 World Cup in its own backyard.
The value of the deal has not been disclosed by FIFA or the airline.
But in a statement, the world’s football governing body called it “one of the biggest sporting sponsorships in the world and the largest in the history of Qatar Airways.”
This likely puts the cost of the deal in the hundreds of millions of dollar range, in line with at least three of FIFA’s other current major partners: Adidas, Coca-Cola and Hyundai.
The deal comes as FIFA attempts to recover from the biggest corruption scandal in its history.
FIFA has also been dogged by unproven allegations that Qatar and Russia bought hosting rights to the World Cup.
These claims, taken with FIFA’s recent promise to uphold human rights in Qatar amid international concerns, has some wondering if the new tie-up will create conflicts of interest.
The FIFA that committed last yr to pushing human rights as hard as commercial interests. Let's see how this goes for Qatar's migrant workers https://t.co/NdUYCFVw5k
— James Lynch (@jpmlynch) May 7, 2017
Assume FIFA took so many years to announce Qatar Airways deal via fear they'd lose 2022WC for corruptly buying it. Fear over. Doubling down.
— Nick Harris (@sportingintel) May 7, 2017
Still, the deal is sure to help the Swiss-based organization with its recent financial woes. It reported a $369 million loss during its 2016 fiscal year.
And a few years before this, high-profile sponsors Sony and Emirates declined to renew their partnerships with FIFA.
Second-tier partners have also pulled out in recent years, including Johnson & Johnson and Castrol.
According to Reuters, FIFA is now still on the hunt for second-tier World Cup sponsors and third-tier regional supporters.
In a statement about the new Qatar Airways tie-up, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said:
“FIFA is delighted to partner with the world’s fastest-growing airline, Qatar Airways. Known for introducing industry firsts, Qatar Airways is an ideal partner for FIFA as we prepare for the first-ever World Cup in the Gulf region, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”
For its part, Qatar Airways, which also has partnerships with FC Barcelona, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli FC and other sporting events, said the tie-up makes perfect sense.
Its CEO Akbar Al Baker called FIFA “a natural partner,” adding:
“We look forward to celebrating wins with the fans, being inspired by the artistry of the players, and to the excitement of each match over the next two FIFA competition cycles, until the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will be proudly held in our home country, the State of Qatar.”