by Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
The Brussels Summit on FIFA reform, which was held at the European Parliament on 21 January 2015 (for more information, see GSLTR website post of 23 January, 2015) has already prompted a very novel reaction from SKINS, the international compressed sportswear brand and company. They have announced, with tongue in cheek, the first ever ‘official’ non-sponsorship of football’s world governing body!
The non-multi-million pound announcement allows SKINS to highlight unshared brand values and confirms their contempt for an organisation, which, they say, has been constantly shrouded in allegations of corruption and controversy, yet, as they note, FIFA is potentially preparing to re-elect its President, Sepp Blatter, for an unprecedented fifth term in office.
Announcing the rolling non-sponsorship agreement, SKINS Chairman, Jaimie Fuller, said:
“I’m delighted this ongoing non-deal highlights all the values we don’t share with FIFA. It is an exciting non-association which will shine a light on the organisation’s un-progressive stance, discredited values and all round non-integrity.”
“This initiative, which is ‘demanding football back’ encourages supporters from around the world to show their desire for change.”
Football fans can also lodge their own protests against FIFA by logging onto the dedicated website for the SKINS campaign at ‘www.officialnonsponsor.com’, which offers them a series of non-sponsor opportunities, including the chance not to win tickets to the next World Cup!
SKINS are also providing a non-sponsor style-guide for other brands to adopt, as well as an eBay listing which ‘invites’ bids for ‘FIFA silence’. Also on offer is a full selection of limited-edition, (non-available) transparent SKINS products.
In further support of their non-sponsorship campaign, SKINS has also arranged to post a full page advertisement in Sepp Blatter’s local Swiss newspaper, which will confirm their ‘Official Non-Sponsor’ status and announce their delight at ‘this exciting global anti-association of FIFA.’
In the SKINS campaign’s launch video, Jaimie Fuller says:
“After a board discussion on the usual payments allegedly accepted by FIFA: $5million, an opulent banquet or…a Picasso painting, we decided to not pay FIFA anything. But the main thing here isn’t not giving them money; it’s about making football better. Making it a game free of corruption, lies and backhanders.
This anti-FIFA stance is intended to be fun and engaging but it carries a very serious message ….. we’re subverting traditional sponsorship activities to make a very clear statement – ‘Sepp, we just want football back.'”
The serious objective of the new FIFA Now campaign is to galvanise support for institutional change within FIFA, following the Brussels Summit. This called upon all confirmed candidates for FIFA’s forthcoming Presidential election in May to establish full reform, including the creation of a FIFA Reform Commission to be overseen by an independent international authority, such as UNESCO.
It should be added that FIFA has recently admitted that it has suffered “reputational damage” as a result of numerous corruption scandals and is facing a sponsorship “challenge” after being deserted, at the end of last year, by five of its ten ‘blue-chip’ sponsors, who have decided not to renew their sponsorships.
The pressure is on and the New FIFA Now and the SKINS campaigns, and maybe others of a similar nature, can only add insult to injury to this flawed sports organisation! But, the 64,000$ question remains: will long-overdue reforms of FIFA be forthcoming as a result of all these initiatives?
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw is an International Sports Lawyer, Academic and Author and may be contacted by e-mail at ‘email@example.com’