FIFA signs Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco as a worldwide sponsor partner in 4-year deal

April 25 – State-owned Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco has become one of FIFA’s Major Worldwide Partners’ in a four-year deal running through to the end of 2027 and covering both the 2026 men’s and 2027 women’s World Cups.

Aramco will have exclusive sponsorship rights in the energy category, while FIFA said the sponsorship activation will see the two parties focus on the twin areas of innovation and community engagement.

Aramco has a deepening involvement in sport. It owns Saudi Pro League team Al-Qadsiah, supports women’s golf through the Aramco Team Series, and is the title sponsor of the F1 in Schools  competition that challenges groups of students to design and manufacture a miniature car out of the official F1 Model Block using CAD/CAM design tools. The cars are powered by CO₂ cartridges and are attached to a track by a nylon wire.

In February Aramco signed a multi-year partnership with Concacaf as the confederation’s ‘Official Energy Partner’ for all Concacaf’s national team and club competitions.

Amin H. Nasser, Aramco President & CEO, said: “Through this partnership with FIFA we aim to contribute to football development and harness the power of sport to make an impact around the globe. It reflects our ambition to enable vibrant communities and extends our backing of sport as a platform for growth.

Aramco said it plans to work with FIFA to identify opportunities to deploy the company’s expertise and technologies in the delivery of football events globally – presumably with a view to helping reduce the carbon footprint of major events.

This innovation mission includes initiatives to provide new ways for football fans to engage with FIFA’s events.

Gianni Infantino, FIFA president, said: “This partnership will assist FIFA to successfully deliver its flagship tournaments over the next four years and, as is the case with all our commercial agreements, enable us to provide enhanced support to our 211 FIFA member associations across the globe.

Aramco is FIFA’s first major sponsor partner from Saudi Arabia. The country is the sole bidder to host the 2034 World Cup and their bid is expected to be rubber-stamped later this year.

Campaign group Fossil Free Football said that the sponsorship is a “dangerous step in the wrong direction for global football”, saying that Aramco has emitted more greenhouse gas pollution than any other corporation in the world.

With FIFA, Aramco has hit a sweet spot on multiple fronts. It is a sponsorship forged with a global sporting federation that puts money ahead of any other value it might hold; from a country that is desperately trying to show it wants to be a good global citizen, a contributor to a better world and host of the world’s biggest party; and with an oil company that wants to be seen to be putting back positively into a world that its business activities, pretty much unabated, are destroying.

However uncomfortable anyone feels about the partnership, the deal is done, and frankly it was always going to be. While no value for the deal was announced, Aramco is very likely to be by far the biggest of FIFA’s sponsors.

While FIFA can’t be held responsible for global pollution, on the basis that you keep your friends close and your enemies closer, perhaps it can be hoped FIFA will use its influence (not its opaque PR spin) to find a way to effect a positive slowdown in global warming as it attempts to meet its own signed commitment to human rights and sustainability under its Statute and the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework.

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