India is attempting to close the gap when it comes to establishing a global presence in football. Having founded the Indian Super League (ISL) in 2013, India is all set to host the Fifa U-17 World Cup and Indian Sports Minister Vijay Goel mentioned in a recent interview that through the tournament, India would aim to establish that it was the best in organising global events. Despite this however, Indian sponsors are still missing from FIfa's global list of sponsors.
The Drum spoke to Fifa's chief commercial officer, Philippe Le Floc'h to find out how Fifa plans to rectify the situation and how it aims to market itself in the APAC region.
What is the level of interest and sponsorship that the Fifa World Cup U-17 received in India?
India is a country with great football potential and the Fifa U-17 World Cup represents an excellent platform to further develop football structures.
This upcoming Fifa tournament, being a milestone event in Indian sport, attracts Indian brands and businesses with the opportunity to jointly leave lasting legacy for football in India, and truly engage with the ever growing number of football fans in the country. Industry-leading companies such as Bank of Baroda and Hero MotoCorp have already recognised the brand and business-building potential of a sport sponsorship with the first ever global sporting event to be hosted in India to date, and have signed National Supporter Agreements for the Fifa U-17 World Cup India 2017.
How does Fifa plan to grow or rather market itself in Asia?
Throughout the past years Asian football has been making huge steps forward at all levels, including grassroots and women’s football. Japan won the Fifa Women’s World Cup in 2011 and reached the final four years after. Korea DPR won both the Fifa U-17 Women’s World Cup and the Fifa U-20 Women’s World Cup last year just to give you a few examples. Linked to the increasing popularity of football in Asia we see a concrete marketing potential. Already to date we have signed two Fifa Partners from Asia with Qatar Airways and Wanda, as well as Hisense as Official Sponsor of the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia, and Vivo as FIFA’s Official Smartphone Sponsor of the 2018 and 2022 Fifa World Cups.
Fifa doesn’t yet have any brand from India as an affiliate for its global events. Why?
There is a great marketing potential in India and the Fifa U-17 World Cup could act as a catalyst to get more Indian companies involved in football. Fifa has been actively conducting activities in India to maximize the participation of the sponsors involved in the event and more will follow in the coming months. India is very passionate about football and it is our intention as Fifa to contribute to its football development in the years to come.
With an increasing interest in football in the country, and with the Fifa U-17 World Cup as a first platform for Indian brands to explore the marketing benefits and opportunities that Fifa events bring to companies, we are hopeful that we shall welcome Indian brands into the Fifa Commercial Affiliates team very soon. As of the 2018 edition of the Fifa World Cup, our commercial programme opens up opportunities both on global and regional levels, which allows companies also with interest only within a region of Asia to receive the marketing benefits of a Fifa World Cup Sponsor.
Do you think Indian sport has evolved? What aspects of it impress you the most?
Historically speaking, cricket has been the main sport in India. However, through the organisation of the Fifa U-17 World Cup we have noticed an incredible passion and willingness to improve football structures on and off the pitch. The Local Organising Committee is working hard to deliver a great tournament and the Government of India together with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) have implemented a unique joint scheme, Mission XI Million, which has already reached out to over two million children thus confirming the incredible potential of football in India.
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