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World Cup sponsor Emirates airline ends deal with FIFA after 3 tournaments

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ZURICH — Dubai-based airline Emirates will not renew its World Cup sponsorship with FIFA for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

Emirates was FIFA's airline partner for three World Cups from 2006 through 2014.

"This decision was made following an evaluation of FIFA's contract proposal which did not meet Emirates' expectations," the airline said in a statement.

FIFA typically retains six top-tier commercial partners signing up for at least two World Cups.

The six 2014 World Cup partners — Adidas, Coca-Cola, Emirates, Hyundai, Sony, Visa — combined to pay about $700 million for the four-year commercial cycle, according to figures in FIFA's annual financial reports. Four have renewed through at least 2022, with Sony yet to sign.

Qatar Airways, from the 2022 World Cup host nation, could now replace Emirates.

FIFA declined to comment on "ongoing negotiations."

The governing body said Emirates suggested in 2012 it would restructure its football sponsorship strategy, which was "a decision that FIFA respects."

Emirates has major sponsorship deals with some top European clubs, including Arsenal, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

Still, Emirates stated on its website that World Cup sponsorship "sits centrally to its football strategy."

It hired Pele and Cristiano Ronaldo to front its marketing campaign for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

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