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Russia 2018 World Cup: Sponsorships, Players to Watch & More

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Russia 2018 World Cup: Sponsorships, Players to Watch & More

[Header image credit: Canva]

By: Greg Goldring, Senior Director of Sports & Entertainment | Editor: Will Ober, Manager, Sports Marketing

After a four-year wait, it’s finally here. Tomorrow, the FIFA World Cup™ kicks off in Russia with a matchup between the host nation and Saudi Arabia at 10 am CT. Rivaled only by the Olympics on a global scale, this quadrennial event pits the top 32 countries of the world against one another in the world’s most popular sport.

We’re helping you prepare for the World Cup with the download on sponsorships, players to watch, where to watch, and more.


First group matches: June 14-19

Second group matches: June 19-24

Third group matches: June 25-28

Round of 16: June 30-July 3

Quarterfinals: July 6-7

Semifinals: July 10-11

Third-place match: July 14

Final: July 15 


While the tournament kicks off this week, each of FIFA’s and FIFA’s World Cup™ partners have been striking deals, developing creative, and producing content for well over a year preparing to unleash it the coming days.

As with any major sponsorship, consumers should expect to see new creative launched on TV, in-stores, and on all of their second screen devices from the FIFA’s main partners. The primary FIFA sponsors with global rights are listed below; however, each market may have regional partnerships which often cost the brand significantly less than a global partnership.

Having the right to market teams and utilize FIFA marks and intellectual property during the FIFA World Cup gives brands, at the very least, a standard rights package including the following assets as they market to consumers in over 200 countries around the world:

– The use of the FIFA and FIFA World Cup™ Official Marks

– Exposure in and around the stadium, in all Official FIFA publications and on its official website

– Acknowledgement of their support through an extensive FIFA World Cup sponsor recognition program

– Ambush marketing protection

– Hospitality opportunities

– Direct advertising and promotional opportunities; preferential access to FIFA World Cup™ broadcast advertising

Official marks and intellectual property include not only logos, clips, trophies, and mascots, but also prohibits “ambush marketing” partners who want to ride the wave of the World Cup from using terms such as FIFA, World Cup, Russia 2018, and a long list of variations.

All that said, there are still massive stars participating in the World Cup who have sponsorship deals with brands/companies that are NOT World Cup partners and this certainly does not prevent them from putting creative out during the World Cup, they just have to get more “creative.”

Here are a few examples of brands that have launched campaigns featuring top talent despite not being an official partner of the FIFA World Cup™.

Wish –An online ecommerce site, signed Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Tim Howard (USA), Pogba (France), Neymar (Brazil), and Robin Van Persie (Netherlands) to push out creative during this World Cup. In very clever fashion, neither Buffon, Howard, nor Van Persie are actually participating in the World Cup as their countries’ teams did not qualify; however, they are still highly recognizable.

Hugo Boss – Signed four players from four different countries (UK, Spain, Brazil and Germany) and positioned them as a united front to push their well-known men’s fragrance, BOSS Bottled.

MasterCard Enlisted Neymar Jr., and Lionel Messi, arguably two of the world’s top players, as ambassadors for a program where MC donates meals to 10,000 children for each goal scored, never mentioning any protected terms.

Deadpool 2 – The movie even enlisted the help of David Beckham, another globally recognized superstar, to attract attention with the movie coinciding with the kick off to the World Cup.



If you’re a casual “football” fan, you may not be familiar with players outside of the big names like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. We’ve got you covered.

Here are a few players on the top-ranked squads to help get you in the know heading into the tournament:

And, here are a few young guns/possible break out stars to keep an eye on:


The World Cup will be broadcast exclusively on FOX Sports, but below are a few other great places to follow all the action.