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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 June 2006, 07:42 GMT 08:42 UK
Stadiums renamed for Fifa sponsors
By Bill Wilson
Business reporter, BBC News, Nuremberg

The Easycredit Stadion - soon to be the Franken Stadion
Nuremberg's Easycredit Stadion will look different for World Cup kick-off

Football fans and corporation-watchers attending the World Cup in Germany this summer may notice a plethora of match arenas all bearing the same rather mundane name.

Out of the 12 stadiums, no less than seven have been retitled the "Fifa WM Stadion" - a result of Fifa stripping the grounds of their usual sponsor names before the tournament kicks off on 9 June.

Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Hannover, Cologne, Gelsenkirchen, and Dortmund, have all had their sponsor names removed, as Fifa sets about creating a "clean" environment for its 15 official partners' wares.

To achieve this, the names of firms which are not among the official Fifa sponsors are being removed.

In Munich and Hamburg, this has meant that the huge sponsor names on the outside of the stadiums - Allianz and AOL respectively - have had to be removed by crane.

In Nuremberg, too, the stadium has also been stripped of its sponsor name, although on this occasion it is being allowed to revert to its previous title - The Frankenstadion - rather than the identikit Fifa labelling.

Nonetheless, the venue will still have to lose any reference to its backer - in this case Easycredit.

Local sponsor

Earlier this year regional bank Norisbank paid between 8 and 10 million euros over 10 years to have its credit card brand plastered over the 46,000 capacity Nuremberg stadium.

Now, however, all the livery, signage and flags have be removed until after the World Cup.

Instead, the Frankenstadion name has been revived, named after the local Franconia region.

"No-one was prepared to pay as much to sponsor the local football club's stadium as Norisbank, which is a regional bank behind the Easycredit product," says Andreas Franke, a journalist at the Nuernberger Nachrichten newspaper.

AOL Stadion
Workmen remove the AOL sign letters from the Hamburg stadium

"Local people would have been happier to have our stadium called the Norisbank Stadion, but they insisted on Easycredit.

"So I do not think people are too worried about reverting to our traditional name of the Frankenstadion for the duration of the World Cup."

Each stadium, surrounded by a fence around its "outer security perimeter," has been handed over to Fifa in "neutral" condition, with all signs of advertising and sponsorship removed.

This is reported to have cost Hamburg club HSV 500,000 euros - the reputed settlement to its sponsor, AOL, for removing all references to the internet firm from the stadium.

Partner payments

Aside from Nuremberg, only a few stadiums were able to convince Fifa that a proper or regional name was non-threatening.

Signs in Nuremberg for the World Cup
Fifa signs are spreading round the stadiums ahead of the big kick-off

In Stuttgart - the home of the Daimler-Benz automotive group - the Gottlieb Daimler Stadium has kept its name, along with the Fritz Walter Stadion in Kaiserslautern, Centralstadion in Leipzig, and Olympiastadion in Berlin.

But some of the biggest arguments between Fifa and the host cities have been about commercial rights in the areas surrounding the stadiums and at official big-screen match broadcasts.

At issue are the advertising opportunities for the official Fifa sponsors.

Each of the 15 sponsors, including such names as Adidas, Coca-Cola and Yahoo, is spending about 40m euros for the right to bear the title of "Official Partner" of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

There are also six "National Sponsors", such as Deutsche Bahn and EnBW energy group, who have paid 13m euros each for the exclusive local rights.

They are the sole sponsors within their respective product categories and can use logos and trademarks, such as the World Cup in their advertising.

Tight control

Fifa is therefore keen not to foul up deals which are poised to reel in revenues of about 700m euros by letting any rogue products or signage within the sealed-off stadium zones.

The global federation has in effect paid for the temporary rights of ownership to the stadium premises during the four weeks of the tournament, giving it the final say about what goes on during the World Cup.

Sign advertising Nuremberg World Cup fanfest
Fifa has kept its eyes on fan festivals too

Gregor Lentze, Fifa's marketing director for the World Cup, says: "We sell our official partners exclusivity and that's what we have to guarantee."

But he admits that Fifa's demands were "a culture shock" for many cities.

The world organising body has also been in talks with local authorities, trying to get their support in cracking down on sales of "non-official" products on the access routes to stadiums.

And it has also tried to ensure it has tight control over the 12 official fan festivals in the host cities, including in Nuremberg.

Fifa even monitors the type of logos that can be displayed at the fan festivals, with prominence given to the signage and products of its official 15 partners.

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