Football’s governing body Fifa is exploring the untapped sponsorship potential afforded by ‘video assistant referee’ (VAR) tech by selling lucrative sponsorship rights of up to £100m for the unscripted match breaks.
A slew of companies are said to have approached the organisation in the hope of carrying their branding during such intermissions when play is stopped to allow referees to review footage of contentious moments.
It is calculated that VAR breaks accounted for some 27 minutes of screen time during the 2018 World Cup, a significant chunk of squandered airtime which can command as much as £600k per minute from advertisers.
Speaking to the FT, independent sports marketing adviser Tim Crow said: “I think it is the biggest sponsorship asset that football has ever created. Most other advertising is on the side, but VAR is in the middle of the game, part of the game. For a sponsor, that is a dream come true. There is no question that if brands had the opportunity to sponsor around VAR they would.”
Fifa is in no rush to cash in however having stated that its current priority is to perfect a technology which remains a source of controversy itself, particularly among fans concerned at the potential for regular disruption to games.
Instead, it is focussed on traditional sponsorship opportunities with the likes of China's Mengniu.