Stadium violence: a turning point for brands

Before making a decision, the sponsors linked to the image of Liga MX carefully observe the echo effect that arose from the violence in the Corregidora stadium during the match between Querétaro and Atlas. Before thinking about getting off the ship or giving a position, business partners review their investment figures and, above all, take what happened as learning and a turning point in the negotiation of future contracts.

The presence of violence or conflict has shown sharp reactions worldwide from sponsors linked to sport, who distance themselves from the negative charge. The most recent example is the series of brand sanctions in the face of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. EA Sports FIFA and Adidas left the Russian soccer team, Nike stopped e-commerce in that country and UEFA, with the muscle of sponsors it boasts, dropped the Russian teams from its competitions.

Faced with the damage to the image of Mexican soccer, the brands showed a different attitude from that shown on a global scale. Of the six main sponsors that Liga MX currently has, BBVA, Voit, Caliente, Charly, Tecate and Konami E-Football, only BBVA and Voit issued statements condemning the acts of violence and none of them broke commercial relations.

The Economist knocked on the door of the six brands in the Mexican league to listen to positions and only Voit responded in an interview.

_What do sponsors represent as an economic force for Liga MX?

According to figures from the executive president Mikel Arriola, the sponsorship with Tecate represents an income of 12 million dollars a year, while that of BBVA is estimated higher for having the naming right of the championship. When said bank had the name of the First Division of Spain, its agreement was valued at 25.8 million dollars a year, according to Expansión figures. If each of the sponsors that entered the pandemic (Caliente, Charly, Tecate and Konami E-Football) has the average figure of 12 million, Liga MX would have entered at least 48 million dollars for this item between 2020 and 2022.

In the summer of 2012, the First Division adopted a name to create its own product: Liga MX. That identity allowed him to gain more and more ties until he reached the six main sponsors he currently has. BBVA and EA Sports entered in 2013 (EA Sports concluded the relationship in early 2022); Caliente and Charly entered 2020; Tecate in 2021; Konami E-Football in 2022; while Voit has been involved with the Mexican championship for 35 years.

“As a sports sponsorship, the alliance between Liga MX and BBVA is the most important in the continent. In Mexico, being the largest bank, with the most clients, branches and ATMs, it is very good for us to be the sponsors not only of a team, but of the league as a whole. We are betting that the show will grow, but also because we like to support sport and promote it and we have a very important philosophy of social responsibility,” Mauricio Pallares, then director of marketing at BBVA, told this newspaper in 2019.

For Tecate, Liga MX is its route to a leading position at the national or regional level: “We are very happy with the alliance, we want to be the beer brand most associated with Mexican soccer,” he shared with this medium at the beginning of 2021, Lino Villarreal, general director of Tecate, while a spokesperson for Grupo Caliente said in the middle of that same year: “We have always wanted to be the brand most allied with Mexican soccer. We are, from our point of view, the number 1 fan and the one who loves to support Liga MX the most. The natural thing was to be a partner of the league, a commercial ally, it was the next coherent step within our strategy”. Even in an interview with Fernanda Sainz, commercial director of Grupo Caliente, he highlighted the brand’s goal of being an official sponsor of the 2026 World Cup in Mexico.

The bank only issued a statement after the events that occurred in Querétaro, in which it mentioned: “We deeply regret what happened this afternoon at the La Corregidora stadium. At BBVA Mexico we condemn the violence and we hope that soccer continues to promote values ​​and respect among all the participants”.

The company has maintained a relationship with Liga MX for nine years, but according to an interview on the Spanish website, Sergio Ávila, an analyst at IG Market, believes that BBVA shareholders are “more concerned about the contagion effect on the European banking from Russian banks than because of these tragic events”.

The silence of the marks

To read the situation that sponsors face in decision-making at a critical moment for Mexican soccer, sports marketing specialists analyzed the behavior shown in the face of the events in Querétaro.

For Francisco San José, professor of sports marketing at the Anahuac University School of Sports Sciences, the silence of brands “is something surprising”, but it can also be taken as a learning space that will make them restructure their contractual relationships. with Mexican soccer, taking into account situations that are not in their hands, such as the pandemic at the time and now the massive violence inside a stadium.

“Brands try to be very careful in the image they project and being linked to this type of event ends up discrediting them all a lot. It is very unusual that they have not come out to give statements, I do not know if they are looking for the storm to subside a little or to see a little what decisions the league directors make.

From the point of view of Rodrigo Mort, Master of Business Administration in sports management from the European University-Real Madrid, the decision of the brands to wait until they have more elements to review their relationship with Liga MX is correct, since a detailed evaluation.

“Accelerated decisions cannot be made because there is an investment, business and contract element behind all the brands associated with Liga MX. Although the contracts contemplate in their clauses the unilateral rupture due to situations such as the one we have seen, it seems to me that in the case of Liga MX, it is not necessarily to blame for what happened in Querétaro. It has the obligation to review what happened, to impose punishments, to impose the truth, not to make up numbers and to really carry out an investigation that leads to the resolution and punishment of those who are guilty of what happened.”

The specialist added that at the moment there could be no damage behind the global brands for what happened, but that this would happen “as long as all the negative elements of what happened point to a culprit and that culprit continues to be supported by brands.” But as of today, Liga MX “is doing what it has to do because one of its affiliates has a very serious problem.”

Brands play an important role in the eradication of violence in stadiums, “because they have economic power, influence, association, connection with clubs, with Mexican soccer and beyond that the league has to do something , the brands would also have to do something individually or together”, Mort expanded.

Talkwalker, a social media analytics tool, showed that on Twitter, news sites and blogs, sentiment towards the Liga MX brand changed from positive to negative as of March 5 and remained that way until late March 9. March.

Voit: necessary sponsorship evaluation

In an interview with El Economista, Carlos Manrique, general director of Voit, indicated that in the coming weeks he will meet with president Mikel Arriola, and with the commercial area to express his concerns about the integrity of the fans and the guarantee that the soccer is a space for family coexistence; and in this way evaluate its relationship with the League. More than seeking a divorce, Voit intends to find solutions to a problem of violence that has escalated to new limits. The sporting goods manufacturing company has a 35-year relationship with Liga MX and its current agreement runs until 2024.

“It is always important to see these issues to evaluate our relationship and our sponsorship, but right now I think the most important thing is to unite all of us around fair play and say no to violence in the stadiums. The League and the Mexican Federation play a very important role in the country’s economy, it represents almost a percentage point of the National GDP and has a very important social connotation in terms of entertainment and social coexistence. These are issues that also have to be evaluated in the end on a scale to make a final decision”, said Carlos Manrique.

“It will be necessary to make a very punctual evaluation of a particular situation. In the end there are also contracts and these have exit clauses, there are legal issues. I am going more on the side of building, of solving the situation, I hope that the measures that the league took regarding what happened in Querétaro last Saturday, are strong and valid enough to send an important signal to the rest of the the fans and the teams to eradicate this as soon as possible”.

At the moment Voit does not have measurements of how it impacted the brand, but they hope that there will be a positive rebound considering the actions that were taken and that it will have an exponential positive effect in the future. Manrique mentioned that the situation that occurred in Querétaro could be a turning point for the modification of future contracts, with clauses that include the image of the sponsor, the affectation or the perceived value of the sponsorship.

_ How do you get involved as a brand to eradicate violence in stadiums?

“As a supplier and a company, we don’t have the power, the reach, and we are not a competent authority. The only thing we do is get on all the programs that the Federation or the League have in this case and work in coordination with them so that all the information, digital media or the information that the League transmits through its different platforms we post, we confirm it and we give them our database, our reach and we join in to generate more impact with all the campaigns they do”, said the general director of Voit.

response status

After a week of asking the sponsors about what happened in Querétaro and the effect on their image, only Voit, the official ball, shared his position:

voit: agreed

BBVA: on hold

Tecate: on hold

hot: declined

Charlie: declined

Konami E-Football: Not Found

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