Sponsoring World Cup Footballers

David Beckham Pepsi

This year’s World Cup will arguably go down as one of the best football tournaments of all time. This is great news for the fans, but even better news for the sponsors. It seems like just about every advertiser has been getting involved in one way or another, from McDonald’s to Listerine. Closer to home, we’ve had some Daniel Sturridge-fronted Subway adverts and Joe Hart trying to flog us Doritos and Head & Shoulders. The problem is that these footballers don’t have anything in common with the brands they’re advertising. So what if advertisers offered some sponsorship deals to footballers based on their actual on-pitch performances in Brazil to benefit from some vital synergy? Here are a few good match ups of brands and footballers:


Diego Costa (Spain) – Go Compare

Digeo Costa/Go Compare

Last year Diego Costa put on a Brazil shirt and proudly represented his place of birth in two friendly matches against Italy and Russia. However, Costa was granted Spanish nationality a few months before, and decided to commit himself to playing for Spain for the rest of his career. In response, Brazil’s manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said, “A Brazilian player who refuses to wear the shirt of the Brazilian national team and compete in a World Cup in your country is automatically withdrawn. He is turning his back on a dream of millions, to represent our national team, the five-time champions in a World Cup in Brazil.” World Cup holders Spain crashed out of the tournament in the group stages.

So what better brand to associate himself with than Go Compare? Customers often use the service to weigh up their options before choosing which product suits them best. Costa tried out the Brazil shirt and decided that his true allegiances were with Spain. It’s much the same as a customer looking for insurance and finding that the current deal offered to them by Swinton isn’t as good as the one they could get with Direct Line. Right?


James Rodríguez (Colombia) – Rosetta Stone

James Rodriguez

James Rodríguez has been the unexpected star of this World Cup, scoring 6 goals in the 5 games he played in. His Colombian team was dumped out of the tournament by Brazil in the quarter finals, but not before commentary teams across Britain argued about the pronunciation of his name. The instinctive way to say James for an English speaker is “Jay-Mz” but the correct Spanish pronunciation is “Ham-Ez”. This has led to strange variations of how to truly say his name, with some commentators using both “Jay-Mz” and “Ham-Ez” during games or simply reverting to “Rodríguez”.

However, as one ITV pundit said, it would be like calling star French striker Terry Henry instead of the correct pronunciation of “Ti-Air-Ri On-Ree”. Perhaps Rosetta Stone could help to settle this debate, and James Rodríguez would make a greater poster boy.


Keisuke Honda (Japan) – Honda

Keisuke Honda/Honda

Keisuke Honda has a reputation for being a hard worker, a footballer blessed with skill, and a deadly eye for goal. Conveniently, his surname is also the same as a giant Japanese automobile manufacturer. It’s not just a case of matching surnames that make this partnership fit. The footballer embodies a lot of the same brand values that the automobile manufacturer stands for. If he ever makes a move to the Premier League, expect to see the partnership become a reality.

At the very least, Honda already have a walking billboard on the football pitch. Imagine a future world where advertisers buy the naming rights to players. In 50 years time will we be singing about the English heroes of 2018 and how great Dyson, Tesco and Apple played in the final?


Javad Nekounam (Iran) – eBay

Javad Nekounam/eBay

Javad Nekouman is Iran’s captain. He’s known for a stint playing in Spain’s top league La Liga and has had an international career spanning 14 years. During the group stage of this year’s World Cup his rank outsider Iranian team faced Argentina, captained by Lionel Messi, one of the best footballers in the world. It’s not unusual for players to swap shirts at the end of a game to keep as a souvenir of the occasion, but this usually happens spontaneously at the final whistle. Naturally, every Iranian player was eyeing up Messi’s blue and white strip.

Nekouman decided to take matters into his own hands. During the pre-match handshake between the two captains he was captured on camera asking Messi for his shirt after the match, before the match had even started. Iran went on to lose the match 1-0 after a 90th minute wonder strike from Messi himself. Nekouman can always just keep the shirt, but imagine how much he’d make from it on a popular online auction site? The story would make for a great fun and reactive campaign about selling memorabilia on eBay.


Juan Zúñiga (Colombia) – Innocent

Juan Zuniga

Zúñiga is a Colombian defender who was part of the team that faced Brazil in this year’s quarter finals. Colombia was losing 2-1 with just minutes to go and the team had to press for an equalizer to remain in the competition. Tackles were flying in, and one particular knee in the back left Brazil’s best player and the face of the tournament laying on the floor, unable to move his legs. Neymar was promptly shipped off to hospital whilst Zúñiga was unpunished by the referee and remained on the pitch for the last few minutes of the game. Later that night the hospital released a statement that confirmed the extent of Neymar’s injury: he had fractured vertebrae.

FIFA have since announced that they won’t be opening disciplinary proceedings against him and he’s released a statement in which he apologised to Neymar and explained that he didn’t intend to harm anybody. The drinks brand Innocent is a great fit for Zúñiga who is now enemy number 1 with all Brazilian fans for injuring their star talisman.


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