Friday, March 25, 2016

Sponsorship is big business


Sports sponsorship is no longer an act of corporate social responsibility (CSR). It is big business and corporations, in wanting to associate their brand with top sports, especially at international level, will do anything to outdo their competitors in securing sponsorship deals.
Sponsors played a huge role in Fifa being rocked by a bribery scandal recently.
Former Asian Football Confederation secretary-general Datuk Peter Velappan revealed that the World Cup is very lucrative for potential sponsors.
Peter, who worked closely with Fifa and was instrumental in Asia hosting the first World Cup in 2002, when South Korea and Japan were co-hosts, said big bucks and incentives were made available by companies in order to secure sponsorship deals.
“Of course, the onus was on the Fifa officials responsible for securing the deals to act honestly, but when huge benefits were put on the table, temptation overrode integrity,” he remarked.
But then, the sponsors only wanted to be associated with winners, with sports people who had worldwide appeal and who constantly took their sport to the next level.
As to whether sponsors lure potential sports associations with perks in Malaysia, Peter said that he really does not know.
It is a fact that of late, sponsorship has been hard to come by in Malaysia, thanks to the current weak economic climate, but it is no secret that big money is still floating around.
Although no case of sponsorship ‘deals’ or ‘lures’ to secure rights have surfaced in this country yet, in the wake of a high-ranking official at the Youth and Sports Ministry alleged to have misappropriated some RM100 million, nothing can be ruled out.
Anyway, it is the norm for sports associations seeking sponsorship to offer their members anything between 10 and 20 per cent of the cash procured for their time, effort and connection. Event management companies offer similar incentives to anyone who can assist them in raising funds for their events.
But what surfaced recently was very disturbing - an event’s organiser revealed that he had secured funds for his event through a private company that specialised in sourcing sponsorship.
Apparently, this company has links with the GLCs and other government agencies, from which it can get funds for events or projects with much ease.
The deal is that the company takes 60% of the funds secured!
This is certainly not a healthy way for sponsorship deals to be secured in this country.
Cases have also surfaced of officials in high places promising to secure funds and asking for a handout even before the deal is done or sometimes never. 
Then, we have officials who, after having secured sponsorship, ask the sponsors for more items than what was agreed upon or want ‘goodie bags’ for themselves for sponsored goods.
With Malaysia hosting the SEA Games next year, besides government funding, large amounts of money and items are expected to be sourced from the private sector and, hopefully, everything will be done with transparency and with no individuals or groups making it a goldmine for themselves.
Still fresh on the minds of the public is the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, whose accounts took a long time to be closed. The company set up to organise the Games – Sukom 98 Bhd – is said to be in a financial mess. 
The saga of Sukom 98 came to an end but it left a bitter taste in one's mouth. With Sukom 1998 Bhd now liquidated, the RM20 million allocated as funds by the government have not been accounted for. Above all, the accounts have yet to be made public after all these years.
Will the ugly side of sponsorship deals wash up on Malaysian shores to further taint local sports? That's a million-ringgit question.

TONY is a sports
journalist with more than
three decades of experience
and is passionate about
local sports.
He can be reached at
Twitter: @tmariadass​​​

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