Three key sponsors left the 2018 World Cup in Russia

Sepp BlatterThree of Fifa’s sponsors during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil have joined Sony and Emirates in declining to renew their contracts with the scandal-hit world governing body.

Castrol, Continental Tyres and Johnson & Johnson – so-called second-tier sponsors that had a high-profile presence in Brazil – have confirmed they have not renewed their deals.

The companies were among eight second-tier FIFA partners who collectively paid $524 million to be associated with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which earned more than $4 billion for the governing body.

The 2018 tournament is expected to earn at least $5 billion with improved broadcasting deals, and a new FIFA marketing strategy to include more sponsors.

Though sponsors have been urged to speak out against claims of corruption and FIFA’s unwillingness to reform, none of the three departing backers voiced public criticism.

In a statement on Friday, FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil said their leaving was normal.

“Rotations at the end of a sponsorship cycle are commonplace in the sports industry,” Weil said. “It is natural that as brands’ strategies evolve they reassess their sponsorship properties.”

Five of FIFA’s top 14 commercial partners have left in the past six months. Top-tier sponsors Sony and Emirates declined to renew for a two-tournament deal also covering the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

It is widely expected that Samsung and Qatar Airways will step in as replacements. Russian energy company Gazprom has also signed a top-tier deal.

Weil cites “advanced negotiations” with potential partners for the 2018 World Cup, where FIFA intends having more sponsors than in 2014.

FIFA plans for 20 third-tier sponsors on regional deals worldwide instead of eight national sponsors in the host country.

Of the eight second-tier sponsors, Budweiser and McDonalds already renewed for 2018.

Sponsor deals cover a four-year cycle of tournaments, and would typically include the Women’s World Cup kicking off in June in Canada.

Still, FIFA has not committed to a timetable to confirm new contracts.

“We expect interest to grow even more as the Confederations Cup 2017 and 2018 World Cup draw closer.” Weil said.

Jaimie Fuller, the chairman of the SKINS sportswear company who has previously campaigned for reform of cycling, announced he will be writing to all FIFA sponsors.

Candidates for the FIFA presidency must secure five nominations from national associations by January 29, with the contest in May expected to be a battle between long-term incumbent Blatter, former director of international relations Jerome Champagne and Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein from Jordan.