KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Adidas ceo Kasper Rorsted has become the first representative of one of FIFA’s major sponsors to cast doubt on the value of the proposed staging of the World Cup every two years instead of four.
Adidas was a FIFA partner for many years, supplying World Cup logistical support and the footballs, before becoming a formal long-term sponsor.
The world football federation is currently undertaking a heavily-weighed ‘feasibility study’ into rescheduling the World Cup within a rebuilding of the international match calendar which co-ordinates dates for national team and international and domestic club competitions.
The African confederation favours a biennial World Cup while Europe’s UEFA and South America’s CONMEBOL are opposed. The Asian governing body and central/north America’s CONCACAF are sitting on the fence.
FIFA’s phalanx of golden oldie ‘legends’ are all in favour while many current star players, coaches and managers have expressed vehement opposition.
Now the sponsors, who generally try to take a neutral line in public, are also becoming involved. In the case of Rorsted that has been via an interview in the business section of the Neue Zurcher Zeitung, FIFA’s ‘local paper’.
Rorsted, asked about the World Cup proposal, said: “I don’t think much of a World Cup every two years.
“There’s a European Championship here, there’s a Copa America in Latin America. Space should be left for other things.
“I am a passionate football fan but I think it is important that not only football is shown on television but also biathlon, skiing, tennis and handball. Only pushing one product en masse is not good for any brand.”
Leaders of various Olympic sports have expressed concern at the World Cup restricting visibility. Currently most sports build their international schedules around a calendar which sees the World Cup finals and summer Olympic Games alternate every two years.
Rorsted, in reviewing sports sponsorship more generally, also suggested that the peak of the sector was past.
He said: “We believe we’ve reached the peak and started retreating since three years ago. Until then, we we might have sponsored a club in France for four years but now it’s for six or seven. The same goes for the Premier League.
“The limit has more or less been reached, apart from a few exceptions.”
Rorsted was also cautious over the controversial Super League.
He said: “Financially, the Super League would probably be attractive for us. In the long term, however, we believe that the love for sport from childhood arises from access and is something tangible.
“It is important for us that children can go to the stadia and watch their stars, not often, but every now and then. Competitions are not intended to be elitist events that can be seen only on television.”