TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp does not plan to renew its sponsorship contract with FIFA, the governing body for world soccer, as the Japanese electronics maker needs to prioritize its restructuring efforts, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Such a move would follow Emirates Airline’s [EMIRA.UL] announcement this month that it was ending its sponsorship of FIFA, a blow to the governing body as it investigates whether there was corruption in the bidding process for the next two World Cup competitions.
Sony has been a FIFA sponsor for the eight years to 2014 in a contract worth 33 billion yen ($280 million).
Sony on Tuesday said it was aiming to restructure its television and mobile divisions further, while targeting robust growth for its electronics devices division, which houses its growing image sensors business.
An official for the electronics conglomerate said he could not comment on future contracts.
The people familiar with the matter declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
A FIFA spokesman said: “The existing contract with Sony runs until 31 December 2014 and we are currently in discussions with the brand.”
Sponsors have put pressure on FIFA to respond robustly to allegations of bribery to secure the 2018 World Cup for Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.
Earlier this month, FIFA’s ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert said in a statement there were no grounds to reopen the controversial bidding process, clearing Qatar and Russia of wrongdoing.
But that announcement was immediately undermined when Michael Garcia, the former U.S. prosecutor that led FIFA’s own investigation, said that he disputed its summary of his findings.
A number of European officials have called on FIFA to publish Garcia’s full report but the governing body said it could not release it to the public for legal reasons.
Garcia and Eckert met face to face and decided that Garcia’s report would be sent to the chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, Domenico Scala, who would in turn decide how much of the report should be sent to the FIFA executive committee.
They also confirmed that the ethics committee had opened a number of formal cases against unidentified individuals and FIFA confirmed it had lodged a criminal complaint in Switzerland, but stood by its conclusion that any wrongdoing was not enough to jeopardize the winning bids.
Reporting by Reiji Murai; Additional reporting by Julian Linden; Writing by Edwina Gibbs; Editing by Peter Rutherford