Sponsors Need To Make Their Money Talk

In the last fortnight, the sporting world was thrown into turmoil with more scandal – this time doping rearing its ugly head again, with Russia the perpetrator following revelations from an anti-doping commission report which alleged widespread corruption and collusion.

As if the reputation of sport hadn’t been dragged through the mud enough this year with the shocking FIFA scandal that erupted in May. It was a scandal that subsequently unraveled to reveal such deep-rooted greed and exploitation of world’s most popular sport. The wounds of such deception are still very fresh and these latest reports inflict further pain to the millions that love the purity of sport.

In the space of six months, the two sporting bonanzas that are viewed by more global audiences than any other event, have had their reputations well and truly tarnished. The investigations cast doubts over the transparency and honesty of the process for allocating the tournaments in the case of FIFA and even more worrying with the findings on Russia, the performance of the athletes in all athletic events including the Olympics. These events generate billions of dollars in revenue from corporate sponsors, broadcasting rights and merchandising. And that is where the power lies to start a major clean up.
There have been threats and rumours that some of the sponsor powerhouses will pull their money entirely, should the IAAF and FIFA not respond in a suitable manner. Yet this will not solve the problem. The majority of the world’s sport fans will welcome the next Olympics and World Cup with the same enthusiasm as they did the last ones, and the ones before that. The spirit of togetherness, celebration and excellence that embody these events will still remain. So, removing funds to make these the showpiece events that they are is harming those fans as much as it is the governing bodies.

Money talks and therefore these sponsors need to make it talk loudly. They need to force change! Removing the current president of FIFA and replacing him with another candidate from inside the Federation is very much as short-term fix. Suspending Russia from all athletics competitions is a necessity but it won’t guarantee that doping will just evaporate into thin air.

Here at PrettyGreen we have been fortunate enough to be a part of two of the biggest sporting events to ever come to the UK, the 2012 London Olympics and the 2015 Rugby World Cup. For both of these, London’s vibrant multi-cultural landscape came together to revel in a festival of sport. We saw first hand the joy that sport can bring to our lives and for the legacy for either of these to be tarnished, it leaves us with a sour taste.

We may not have the answers to how we make sport pure and clean again but we do know that sponsors need to drive change.