SUM win rights to sell CONCACAF sponsorship to 2021, FIFA releases $10m


By Paul Nicholson in Mexico City

May 11 – The sponsorship rights to CONCACAF events have been awarded to the MLS’s commercial arm, Soccer United Marketing (SUM), who take over from Traffic Sports, the agency that triggered the corruption scandal that lead to the arrest of the confederation’s last two presidents – Jeffrey Webb and Alfredo Hawit.

The award of the sponsorship rights marks even further the consolidation of the confederation’s power structure in the US having closed its Cayman Islands office and streamlined its operations under the watchful, if pricey, eyes of its US advisory firms.

The next key rights award will be for the TV distribution for these events which, if following CONCACAF form to date, will likely go to US TV sales firm IMG. SUM and IMG are already working on the joint rights to the Copa America Centenario that takes place this summer in the US.

Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Makita, Nike, Samsung, Sprint, State Farm and TAG Heuer have all signed up as for the tournament and CONCACAF says additional partners will be announced this week.

The SUM deal for CONCACAF rights (including the Gold Cup and Champions League) will run until the end of 2021.

CONCACAF Acting General Secretary Ted Howard. “We are confident that SUM’s global network and expertise will play a vital role in negotiating innovative sponsorship opportunities for our tournaments and events. This partnership will bring the Confederation’s major competitions closer to fans, while expanding the reach of CONCACAF football throughout the region and the world.”

It is unclear if SUM have paid a guarantee for the marketing rights but it seems unlikely (Traffic had previously paid a guarantee believed to have been $25 million), though CONCACAF said that SUM and IMG did acquire the rights to the Copa America Centenario for an undisclosed sum.

Kathy Carter, president, Soccer United Marketing, said: “Gold Cup, the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League and all of the other CONCACAF events are valuable properties that garner worldwide attention. There is a tremendous amount of value for brands looking to engage with the soccer fan in this diverse region.”

Tomorrow CONCACAF elect a new president in a run-off between Canada’s Victor Montagliani and Bermuda’s Larry Mussenden. The election run-up has been controversial with the somewhat dubious removal of Caribbean Football Union president Gordon Derrick from standing. Derrick is appealing the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Caribbean member associations have the majority in CONCACAF elections and they would almost certainly made Derrick president. How they vote now is unclear with rumours of high level US pressure being put on associations to vote for Montagliani. Electioneering and pressure tactics were not covered in the recent statutory reforms passed by CONCACAF – on the face of it this seems to be the same old CONCACAF, just different faces.

There was good news for CONCACAF this week as it was notified FIFA would release the £10 million of World Cup revenue and Financial Assistance payments that had been withheld.

“The Audit and Compliance committee has acknowledged the measures taken by CONCACAF and has agreed to lift the suspension on the frozen funds,” said FIFA in a statement. “However, the release of the funds is still subject to the fulfilment of the requirements cited in the FIFA development regulations.”

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