Sports Ticker: Introducing EA Sports FC, GB Boxing splits from IBA and SailGP partners with IMG – a speed-read of commercial updates from the sports world
In a fortnight which saw England defeat France in the Women's Six Nations in front of a record-breaking crowd and Andy Murray take his first tennis title since 2019, we bring you updates on EA Sports FC, Team GB's break from the International Boxing Association and SailGP's partnership with IMG. We also feature stories on the world's first para-astronaut and the Sport Industry Awards.
As always, if there are any issues on which you'd like more information (or if you have any questions or feedback), please do let us know or get in touch with your usual contact at RPC.
EA Sports has announced the title of their new football game, now dubbed EA Sports FC, following its split from FIFA. Last year, the gaming giant announced it had decided to part ways with FIFA, as FIFA reportedly requested $1 billion for continued use of its naming rights for the next four years. It's estimated EA Sports' current FIFA game has 150 million players worldwide, and that a significant proportion of EA Sports' revenue comes from its licenced FIFA gaming products. Current FIFA president Gianni Infantino stated that it is planning to compete with EA Sports in the future and that “the only authentic, real game that has the FIFA name will be the best one available for gamers and football fans”. David Jackson, EA Sports FC Vice President of Branding has reassured players that the new game will still include more than 19,000 footballers, 700 teams and 30 leagues. Alongside the new game, EA Sports has also launched its FC Futures programme which will invest in grassroots football projects over the next three years.
SailGP, the international sailing competition, has extended its partnership with IMG in a multi-year renewal agreement. The two have worked together since the competition's second year in 2020 and have seen it grow to 11 events across the world. It is “one of the world's fastest-growing sports properties” according to IMG President of Global Partnerships, and events are now broadcasted in over 200 territories. Alongside an in-house team at SailGP, IMG will work to enhance existing commercial relationships with the likes of Rolex, Oracle and Cognizant, and explore new opportunities that align with SailGP's commitment to sustainability.
Great Britain has joined World Boxing, a breakaway boxing federation established in response to issues surrounding the sport's existing governing body, the International Boxing Association (IBA). The International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned the IBA in 2019 over issues of governance and alleged corruption, leading to boxing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics being organised by the IOC over the IBA (as will also occur in Paris 2024). A 2022 independent investigation stated that boxing's future in the Olympics was at risk and that changes needed to be made to tackle ethical issues such as a “historical culture of bout manipulation”. World Boxing will seek IOC recognition but recognise it might be difficult for this recognition to come in time for the Paris Olympics. The new body aims to keep boxing at the heart of the Olympic movement and put the interest of boxers first; a response to the sport's place at the 2028 Olympics being under threat due to IBA corruption. The IBA have strongly condemned the creation of this “rogue” organisation.
Former British Paralympian John McFall has taken his first flight in the so-called 'vomit comet' as the European Space Agency's (ESA) first para-astronaut. McFall, who took bronze in the 100m at the 2008 Beijing games, has volunteered for the ESA's Parastronaut Feasibility Project to assess whether it is possible to make space accessible to those with physical disabilities. A flight in the 'vomit comet', whose parabolic flight path provides around 20 seconds of weightlessness at a time, allows McFall and the ESA to begin to understand the accommodations that may need to be made for para-astronauts and even the type of prothesis that would be most appropriate for the environment. While being a member of the program will not guarantee McFall a ticket to space, the ESA has committed to making “a serious, dedicated and honest attempt to clear the path to space for a professional astronaut with a physical disability”.
Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift has announced an official partnership with waste management company SUEZ, which will see them work to reduce the environmental impact of the 2023 race, due to take place from 23-30 July. Through a water and waste program, the pair will work to eliminate single-use plastic packaging from the race's public and hospitality areas and distribute tap water using water fountains and eco-designed reusable bottles and cups. Spectators will also be able to find water points and information on the water quality using the 'Mon Eau' app. The partnership is an extension of SUEZ's existing support of women's sport through their sponsorship of Tour de France Femmes team FDJ-SUEZ and other programmes that benefit 200 top-level sportswomen. Tour de France Femmes, entering its second year, is “thrilled” with the partnership which it believes will “enable us to grow the event even further while controlling its impact on the environment”, according to Race Director Marion Rousse.
... and finally, the great and good of the sports world (and a few of RPC's own) descended on Evolution London for the annual FEVO Sports Industry Awards a couple of weeks ago. The event's 18 awards recognise exemplary work across the sports sector, including unforgettable events, innovative creative campaigns and the use of sport to drive social change. Winners included the Premier League for their heart-warming short film "When Finlay Met Jack" and M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment for their work across the agency. Individual honours went to Gareth Bale for his Outstanding Contribution to Sport, a Lifetime Achievement Award for Baroness Sue Campbell and John Amaechi OBE for the Impact & Integrity Award. Huge congratulations to all of this year's winners!