The Fifa Under-17 Women’s World Cup 2022, which is slated to be held in India from October 11-30, stares at an uncertain future even as FIFA is likely to revoke the suspension of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) following the Supreme Court’s directives to AIFF to hold fresh elections.
Less than six weeks are left for the tournament but none of the sponsorship deals for the global event have been disclosed yet. There is no clarity over the Indian team sponsors as well. On-air sponsors have also been kept under wrap.
The FIFA website mentions Coca-Cola, Visa, Qatar Airways, QatarEnergy, Wanda Group and Kia (Hyundai). These have been long-time partners of FIFA.
Veteran adman and MD of Rediffusion Dr Sandeep Goyal says, “The last edition of U-17 Women's World Cup did get support from Hero MotoCorp, LIC, Dalmia and NTPC.”
Women's football has seen a rise in investment and popularity over the last five years. Indian football, both men and women, received nearly Rs 388 crore of sponsorship in 2021, compared to Rs 2,212 crore attracted by cricket, the latest GroupM ESP report says.
“Given the scale of the tournament happening under the aegis of the FIFA, many sponsors would have lined up,” says Lloyd Mathias, Angel Investor & Business Strategist.
It is perhaps due to the uncertainty and legal issues that AIFF has not been able to declare those sponsorship deals, experts point out.
A senior ad executive said, “It is quite possible that sponsors have put the deals on hold unless things are clear. Some of them may like to renegotiate the deal should the tournament be shifted to some other country.”
Ramesh Narayan, veteran adman and Founder of Canco Advertising and Director Strategy – Asian Federation of Advertising Associations, says, “This is a purely political tussle and hopefully it will blow over. The primary market-of-interest for sponsors is here in India and having a large event here helps build up the hype of its own. Sponsors may try to negotiate, only if the venue is shifted.”
As per Dr Goyal, “To on-air sponsors, change of venue makes little difference unless time zones are impacted.”
e4m sought to get in touch with the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup. An official affiliated with the LOC-FIFA said on condition of anonymity, “The Indian team is being looked after by the Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), which doesn't fall under LOC or FIFA. The announcements with regards to the world cup sponsorships will be made soon.”
FSDL is an Indian company established to operate the Indian Super League.