By Paul Nicholson
August 8 – Fury over FIFA’s last minute sponsorship deal with Booking.com has failed to slow down as thousands of small hotels and accommodation hosts worldwide remain unpaid, most since early June, with a number reporting they are facing bankruptcy having had to lay off staff and reschedule suppliers.
As anger has increased since Insideworldfootball wrote about the non-payments by Booking.com at the end of last month, so attention from accommodation hosts has turned towards FIFA who they say are deliberately profiting from their money.
“This raises crucial questions,” said one hotel owner who asked to remain anonymous for fear of never receiving outstanding payment. “What is the total sum that booking.com owes? Why have they sponsored FIFA at the same time owing millions to small businesses?”
Insideworldfootball has asked FIFA for a second time for comment on why they accepted money from a business that is putting millions of people into financial hardship, but received the reply that they are busy with the Women’s World Cup – which Booking.com is sponsoring.
Booking.com collects money from guests when they book an accommodation, and then, after deducting an admin fee, sends the money to the host. Hosts generally receive their money about two weeks after guests have completed their stay, even though they often collected the buyer’s cash months in advance.
Hosts initially reported that they hadn’t been paid since end May, plunging thousands of them into financial hardship, unable to pay staff and suppliers. Some payments started to filter through to owners towards the end of July, but by no means to all.
By that time the Women’s World Cup was in full swing and Booking.com would have taken accommodation fees in Australia and New Zealand off the back of the FIFA sponsorship.
Booking.com blamed “maintenance on our financial system” for withholding money. But that didn’t stop them agreeing a sponsorship with FIFA and the biggest women’s sports event the world has ever seen. That has infuriated hosts who say that the unpaid workers hit hardest are generally females in the lowest paid jobs in the accommodation business.
Hotel owners and hosts are starting to mobilise with a Facebook group – booking.com is not paying its hosts | Facebook – now having more than 1,000 members and growing.
For FIFA the questions over the Booking.om sponsorship remain around whether they knowingly took sponsorship from a company that is refusing to pay its suppliers but used their money to fund a sponsorship that will only result in more financial hardship.
Have FIFA knowingly participated in this scheme for their own profit?
The answer to that question is unknown because FIFA refuses to respond. But perhaps that in itself is the answer?
Meanwhile the greatest ever Women’s World Cup continues with FIFA trumpeting its record breaking numbers and engagement and its sponsors enjoying unparalled return on their investments.
For Booking.com’s thousands of unpaid hosts the Women’s World Cup is far from the greatest ever.
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