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Accenture ends Tiger Woods sponsorship deal

Tiger Woods in front of leaderboard at Accenture golf event
Tiger Woods and Accenture have been partners for six years

The giant management consultancy firm Accenture has ended its sponsorship of Tiger Woods, saying the golfer is "no longer the right representative".

Woods has been engulfed in a media storm since a disturbance outside his house two weeks ago. He has since admitted being unfaithful to his wife.

Woods is taking an indefinite break from golf to try to save his marriage.

Accenture is the second sponsor to react to the news. Gillette has already said it would cut back Woods' role.

"For the past six years, Accenture and Tiger Woods have had a very successful sponsorship arrangement and his achievements on the golf course have been a powerful metaphor for business success in Accenture's advertising," the company said in a statement.

"However, given the circumstances of the last two weeks, after careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising."

Accenture said that "it wishes only the best for Tiger Woods and his family".

"Accenture has made a decision to not continue with their sponsorship. We are disappointed but respect their decision," said Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent.

One analyst said that the problem for advertisers was not only Woods' image, but also the fact that he is not active in the sport at present.

Accenture "had tied everything in their campaign to Tiger Woods," Rick Burton, a professor of sports management at Syracuse University, told the Associated Press.

"If he's not golfing, those ads don't make sense."

Billion dollars

Among his other sponsors, the US phone firm AT&T has said it is "presently evaluating our ongoing relationship" with Woods, but his main sponsor Nike said it was standing firm and offered him its "full support".

Chairman Phil Knight said Woods "has been really great" since they started backing him in 1996, and believes the storm will blow over the 14-time major winner.

"When his career is over, you'll look back on these indiscretions as a minor blip, but the media is making a big deal out of it right now," Knight told Sports Business Journal.

Until the scandal broke, Woods was one of the biggest targets for global corporations. Links with an array of brands - also including Electronic Arts video games, Gatorade drinks, and Tag Heuer watches - have helped him amass a fortune.

Electronic Arts said its business strategy with the golfer remained unchanged. Tag Heuer also said its sponsorship would continue because Woods' personal life is "not our business".

The Associated Press says he is believed to be the first sports star to have earned $1bn (£600m).

You have to wonder about all sorts of things... his state of mind... whether he's thinking of early retirement
Peter Alliss
Golf commentator

Woods, 33, is considered one of the best - if not the best - golfers of all time and until his recent troubles, was thought likely to overhaul Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championship victories.

Although he is within four of matching that tally, BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss believes it is possible he will not play again.

"He's going to have to put up with a lot of nonsense and ridicule and comment for the next 20 to 30 years and it depends how well he tackles that," he said.

"He's in a very nasty, awkward position of his own making, I'm afraid.

"You have to wonder about all sorts of things that we're not privy to - his state of mind, whether he wants to continue, whether he's thinking of early retirement."

The storm blew up after Woods crashed his car into a fire hydrant and a tree outside his Florida home at the end of November.

Rumours of an argument in the Woods household led to media allegations about extra-marital affairs. Lurid headlines have linked him to a string of women.

On Friday, Woods admitted for the first time that he had been unfaithful to his wife Elin.

"I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children," said Woods in a statement.



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SEE ALSO
I knew nothing - Woods's caddie
13 Dec 09 |  Golf
Gillette to 'limit' Woods's role
12 Dec 09 |  Americas
Gatorade drops Tiger Woods drink
09 Dec 09 |  Business
Tiger Woods takes break from golf
12 Dec 09 |  Americas

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New York Times Tiger Inc.'s Image Crash to Make Sponsors Cautious - 29 mins ago
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CBC North Woods scandal makes sponsors wary - 7 hrs ago
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