Egypt as 2018 FIFA World Cup sponsor: Who are we attracting and which void are we filling?

Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr and Minister of Tourism Rania El-Mashat (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation)

The World Cup frenzy is in full swing – and where there is a frenzy, there is a lot of opportunity for money.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has been facing trouble in attracting sponsors to one of the world’s most anticipated events – its 2018 World Cup – which it is hosted by Russia this year.

Nielsen revealed that total sponsorships brought in by the FIFA reached $1.45 billion this year, dropping more than 10 percent from the previous tournament in 2014, which took place in Brazil.

Sponsors like McDonald’s and Hisense bought in, while names like Sony and Castrol pulled out – and the reason behind European firms leaving the scene seemed to be the FIFA bribery scandals that have emerged over the past years.

In 2015, indictments of money laundering, collusion and wire fraud haunted the organization, with a number of FIFA officials charged and arrested. The FIFA tried to cushion the blow by introducing the “FIFA 2.0” modernizing reforms in 2016.

FIFA collected $1.45 billion in sponsorships, dropping more than 10 percent

What does Egypt have to do with it?
Where the Europeans left a void, the Chinese jumped in – and Egypt as well. Under the “Egypt- Experience and Invest” campaign, the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation signed to be the first Official Regional Supporter of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Coming from said ministry, it is obvious that the move comes in affirmation of Egypt’s investment attractiveness and showcasing the country’s economic potential.

However, it seems – as the campaign name gives away – that the move is two-fold, focusing on investment and also on tourism. Images of the signing ceremony circulated on the ministry’s social media channels show Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr and Minister of Tourism Rania El-Mashat.

The sponsorship is to include a number of events in Russia and the engagement of soccer fans through social media. Hence, Egypt wants two things: investors and tourists.

Who is Egypt attracting?
None of the sponsors of the tournament are from Africa, besides Egypt, despite the massive number of viewers the 2014 World Cup attracted – namely 3.2 billion. That is almost half of the world’s population.

According to the Nielsen World Football Report, the five nations most interested in soccer – and thus most likely to be exposed to Egypt’s marketing efforts – are the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with 80 percent, Thailand with 78, Chile, Portugal and Turkey with 75 percent each.

Nations most interested in soccer include the UAE and Turkey

Hence, the populations of those countries are where Egypt would most likely be attracting tourists and investors from.

In terms of gender, 70 percent of females find the FIFA World Cup very appealing.

Nielsen also reveals that nearly 57 percent of those interested in soccer worldwide agree that companies involved in sponsoring sports gain in appeal with the audience, and 36 percent actively inform themselves about brands engaged as a sponsor in sport.

Accordingly, the majority of World Cup viewers would see Egypt as a more appealing destination, and about a third would actively try to find out more about the country’s investment and tourism opportunities.

What else was said about Egypt and the World Cup?
Goldman Sachs released a report entitled “The World Cup and Economics”, highlighting a possible relationship between the performance of soccer teams and the economic situation of their respective countries.

The report suggests that “both Egyptian [soccer] and its economy are recovering after the period between 2011 and 2016”.

Commenting on the reforms implemented in November 2016, the organization states: “While there are still significant risks of delivery, so far the program has been surprisingly successful: the current account deficit is gradually correcting alongside inflation and business, and investor confidence has been restored.”

However, it warns that Egypt may be a victim of its own success, in case the recent market volatility extends.

The report goes on to suggest that the peak in tourist arrivals over the years coincided with Egypt’s best FIFA soccer ranking, concluding without further explanation that the recent recovery of soccer “may therefore be a good omen”.

This is the first time in 28 years that the Egyptian national team qualified to the FIFA World Cup, with fans placing high hopes on Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah.

Side-note: Mohamed Salah is ranked 5th by social media engagements, following the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Leo Messi and Sergio Ramos, according to Nielsen.

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