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At what point do we say a sponsor has too much influence?  Adidas is one of five FIFA partners.  The other partners include Emirates, Sony, Coca-Cola, and Hyundai.  Of these partners only Adidas specializes in soccer products.  FIFA partners are given premium advertising packages during the FIFA World Cup. Adidas, however, may have a package that trumps the rest. 

As you might know, Adidas has been the ball supplier for the FIFA World Cup since 1970.  Adidas has also outfitted the host nation since 1994, and will again in 2010.  In 1994, the US (Adidas) beat out Brazil (Nike) and Morocco (Nike) for the chance to host the World Cup.  In 1998 France (Adidas) overcame Morocco (Nike), and Switzerland (Nike) to hold the world’s greatest sporting event.  In 2002 Japan (Adidas) and Korea (Adidas) were voted as co-hosts over Mexico (Nike).  2006 included five candidates: Brazil (Nike), England (Umbro), Germany (Adidas), Morocco (Nike), and Russia (Nike).  Germany, as the only team sponsored by Adidas, won its first bid since 1974. 

To sum it up; since 1994 teams sponsored by Nike have placed 10 official bids to host the FIFA World Cup, without success.  Umbro-sponsored teams have submitted one bid, without success.  Puma-sponsored teams submitted one bid, without success.  Adidas-sponsored teams have placed six bids to host the FIFA World Cup, and succeeded in all six attempts.  Put into numbers, 100% of the World Cup’s since 1994 have been hosted by teams wearing Adidas.  Nike sponsored teams make up 59% of the bids, Adidas 35%, with Puma and Umbro making up 6% each. 

How can you justify this?  I understand that there are funding and infrastructure issues that knock teams out of the running, but are we to believe that every team that is sponsored by Nike, Umbro and Puma have continually been less capable of hosting such an event?  The bidding war for the 2014 World Cup may prove just how influential Adidas can be.  FIFA has designated South America as the continent to host with Brazil (Nike) the front-runner and only country with an official bid submitted.  FIFA, however, has already warned the South American nation that it must meet infrastructure requirements.  Argentina (Adidas), which has currently given Brazil its full support, is also in contention.  If Brazil is overlooked for any reason and Argentina receives the bid, we must ask ourselves how much power Adidas has over FIFA.  If Adidas is capable of influencing the site of the World Cup, what else might they be able to do?


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