Sponsors start to abandon French team
Some sponsors of France's scandal-hit football team have started to withdraw advertising campaigns featuring the players, including bank Credit Agricole and Procter and Gamble, which is to axe a Pringles crisps campaign featuring Nicolas Anelka.
REUTERS - Sponsors are starting to distance themselves from France's scandal-hit soccer team.
Credit Agricole said on Monday it had cancelled its television campaign with the team, which on Sunday boycotted a training session in support of striker Nicolas Anelka who was sent home for foul-mouthing the national coach.
"We are suspending our advertising campaign on insurance products that features the French team," a spokeswoman for the French bank said.
The campaign was initially slated to end on June 25.
Meanwhile, fast-food company Quick decided over the weekend to stop using an advertising film featuring Anelka and Procter and Gamble said it was dropping a television campaign for its Pringles crisp brand that featured the expelled player.
"This (campaign) was built around the festive nature of soccer, which is no longer evident given the circumstances," the company said.
A spokeswoman for GDF Suez said the utility was a partner of the French team and the national soccer federation until 2014, but would be reviewing the situation.
"It's a global partnership. We will certainly, once the World Cup is over, discuss the form of this partnership. You must know that for 100 euros given to the Federation, 70 euros
go to non-professional soccer," she said.
Sports equipment maker Adidas said it was "appalled and saddened" but would retain its sponsorship, due to expire this year.
"Adidas will continue to activate the French part of its international campaign until the end of the Team's presence in the competition. This part involves Yoann Gourcuff, the brand's
French ambassador," the statement from Adidas France said.
Playmaker Gourcuff was left on the bench for last Thursday's Group A match where Mexico beat France 2-0.
U.S. group Nike, which will succeed Adidas as the team's equipment supplier in 2011, was not immediately available for comment.
The troubled France team returned to training on Monday to prepare for their final Group A match against South Africa.
Players wore jerseys without any sponsorship, according to Reuters journalists attending the session.
The French Football Federation (FFF), however, said the players were simply following the rules of the international soccer federation on the eve of a game.
Other main sponsors for the French national team include retailer Carrefour, Toyota Europe and SFR.
"There is no change to Toyota's sponsorship of the French football team," Toyota Europe said in an e-mail to Reuters
SFR declined to comment while Carrefour had no immediate comment.
France's World Cup campaign descended into chaos on Sunday with a row between captain Patrice Evra and a fitness coach, the training boycott and the resignation of a senior team official.
All this came a day after Anelka was sent home for insulting coach Raymond Domenech at halftime of a 2-0 defeat by Mexico on Thursday that left France on the verge of an embarrassing group stage exit.
French broadcaster M6 did not bid for rights to the 2010 competition. Rival TF1 has sub-licensed some matches to Canal Plus after neither recouped costs for the 2006 World Cup, media research group Screen Digest said.
TF1 ended up paying 87 million euros ($108 million) to broadcast 27 matches for the 2010 World Cup.
Gains will depend on the fate of the national soccer teams, given viewers and brands lose interest if their side is knocked out.
"Since the start of the World Cup, we are scoring very nice audiences, and whatever happens with the national Team, the competition looks positive for TF1," Chief Executive Nonce Paolini told French daily Le Parisien on Monday.
TF1 shares closed down 1.83 percent at 12.10 euros, underperforming M6 shares, which ended down 0.51 percent at 17.44 euros on Monday.