Barely a week goes by when the integrity of some high-profile sporting organisation is not called into question. You need look no further than FIFA, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and more recently tennis to see the damage that can be done to reputation when individuals or the bodies that govern them are found lacking. With sport a multibillion pound industry, sports stars, sponsors and sporting bodies run the risk of damaging more than just their reputation.

Protecting the bottom line

Some stars, clubs and sporting bodies earn a fortune from sponsorship deals. The household names that sponsor the more high profile sports like rugby, tennis and football are not keen on being associated with individuals, clubs or governing bodies that do not match up to the wholesome image they are trying to portray. FIFA has lost numerous sponsors, including big names such as Sony and Emirates, since the exposure of bribery and corruption at football’s governing body. With top-tier sponsors paying between £16m and £31m a year, and each four-year World Cup cycle bringing in over £1bn in sponsorship revenue, it is clear that these are high money stakes.

Do your homework

With brand and reputation so closely entwined, it is essential that a considerable amount of thought is given to celebrity brand endorsement, and by both sides. A major sports star might be paid millions to promote a product but this endorsement could prove toxic if the trainers he or she is wearing are the product of child labour. Equally, a company selling family values might not want Tiger Woods as their figurehead.

Apr-Jun 2016 Issue

ICSA: The Governance Institute