The Football Association's new sponsorship guidelines could affect players ahead of World Cup
The GIST: English soccer’s governing body might’ve just made a total cock-up of things. According to a report last week, the Football Association’s (FA) brand-new sponsorship guidelines could put a serious dent in players’ existing endorsement deals weeks before the WWC kicks off on July 20th.
The details: The FA will restrict players from making physical appearances for personal sponsors from June 17th and will ban them from promoting those brands on social media starting July 5th. This is supposed to ensure players rest on their days off before and during the tourney, but the FA didn’t consult them or their agents prior to the rule change.
- The new guidelines could put some athletes in danger of breaching existing contractual obligations with their sponsors, but “amicable discussions” are reportedly underway to resolve conflicts.
The context: Last summer, the Lionesses followed similar rules en route to Women’s Euro glory, and the commercial ban for Australia’s WWC team starts even earlier compared to their English counterparts. The U.K.’s entire Olympic team is also subject to a commercial blackout before and during the Games.
- The ban is an extension of a longstanding rule at major tournaments, where official partners of the teams and competition are the only ones visible at stadiums, training facilities, and hotels. Hear no sponsors, see no sponsors.
The impact: New sponsorship guidelines don’t just cause contractual issues — they can hurt players’ bottom lines, too. Many Lionesses scored new deals since winning Euro 2022, which provide new sources of income for players and a chance for brands to activate before and during the WWC.
The lingering questions: While the FA tries to protect its players during an intense month of competition, it’s worth asking: Will a commercial blackout hinder investment in English women’s soccer — and its players — by limiting which brands can be involved during the sport’s marquee event?
- The new rules also feel particularly risky for women athletes, who often rely on endorsements to make up for unequal pay. A sound solution? Paying up.