“THERE ARE TWO THINGS I DON’T LIKE ABOUT A CORPORATE SPONSOR, THEIR FACE!”

By Marcus Honesta.

Decisions of convenience flow like babbling brooks when it comes to how companies do business these days. It allows those that choose to become Corporate Sponsors take what they perceive is the high moral ground while the truth resides somewhere else.

The collective hypocrisy that oozes from the Boardrooms of major corporate sporting sponsors these days is truly palpable. Eager to hitch their wagon to the newest, most popular up and coming sports star, or International event, they will do anything to secure such a prize. Their motives however are sadly purely secular. They dress them up as giving back to the community at a grass roots level. But the end game is the grab for the potential profits and goodwill that these partnerships can generate and will be far greater than the crumbs they throw before the desperate sporting bodies. They (the sponsors) swing in the breeze when it suits them. Wouldn’t it be great if one of these sporting bodies said: “No thanks, we don’t want your blood money”.

But of course this is never likely to happen; with the lap dog administrator’s, desperate to hold on to their high paid corporate gigs. They roll over to have their corporate stomachs scratched at the every opportunity. Take for example the following: Cricket Australia’s James Sutherland, plus “the executives with the authority for the strategic direction and management of the Company” took home a massive $5.6 million in the fiscal year 2016. James Warburton reportedly earned $2.5m a year as CEO of the V8 Supercars when he was the boss.  AFL boss McLachlan earns a reported $3.5m a year and Soccer boss David Gallop is understood to earn over $1m a year.

With such large amounts at stake, there is little or no incentive for sports administrators to take a strong moral stance or concern themselves over the strings that might be attached to the source of such funds.

Steve Smith’s (the former Australian Cricket Captain), ambassadorial role with the Commonwealth Bank, a strong supporter of cricket in Australia, was dropped at the end of March for his part in a ball tampering incident that labeled him a cheat. In a sanctimonious statement made by one of their corporate puppets, the Commonwealth Bank couldn’t wait to take the stage and roundly condemn him.

“We are deeply disappointed about the events that have emerged from the Third Test in South Africa and have asked for a full explanation from Cricket Australia.” The holier than thou bank spokesperson spouted.

However, the cat was out of the bag last week. The CBA’s (Commonwealth Bank Australasia) criminal maleficent and ruthless business practices were on display for all to see during evidence before the Royal Commission into Banking. CBA executive general manager Commonwealth Private, Marianne Perkovic floundered with the truth during her testimony, giving misleading answers to the banking royal commission over how the bank treated its customers. Ms. Perkovic was accused of misleading the commission after being asked more than 10 times by Mr. Hodge, and repeatedly by Commissioner Kenneth Hayne, QC, to properly address questions she was being asked about the bank’s charging of fees for no service.

Earlier in the day, one of the commission’s lawyers, Mark Costello, referred to CBA’s scandal-prone financial planning arm as the “gold medallist” for charging fees for no service.

This was because the bank has so far had to repay more than $119 million to its financial planning customers for charging them fees for services they did not receive. Ball Tampering? Cheating?  Are you kidding me, what a joke!

Or, perhaps this?

The sniveling libertarians at Qantas have said it was “very disappointed’’ in Israel Folau for his position on homosexuality. They said that they (QANTAS) may have to re-evaluate their sponsorship position after a meeting with Rugby Australia. Two weeks ago, Folau said on social media that gays are going to “hell if they don’t repent of their sins”. RA dithered about how to respond. Raelene Castle Chief Executive Officer of Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby Union boss Andrew Hore finally met with Folau and his manager, Isaac Moses.  Nothing really came of it, except a Castle doorstop media conference about “having a conversation” with Folau and that more “conversations” will be had. This was not Rugby Australia’s corporate view they are Folau’s personal private opinion”.

Alan Joyce CEO of QANTAS said when commenting on the sex marriage postal survey result: I’ve never been this nervous about anything, I had knots in my stomach – and the relief, I was nearly going to kill the chief statistician. He took ages to come to the result, I was ready to kill him and then we got there and it was big relief and we were just all in tears, ” Mr. Joyce told journalists.

“It was just an amazing emotional occasion. I’m very proud of Australia, I’m very proud of the country that I now live in. I was very proud of Ireland two years ago and I was even prouder of Australia with this result,” he said.

“My partner hasn’t built up the courage to ask me,” he said. Asked if he might do the proposing, Mr. Joyce responded: “No, no, why would that happen?”

However, in what can be seen as the greatest of all hypocrisy, Qantas is proud to be in bed with Emirates Airlines. If you research Qantas’s position in this partnership, they proudly state:

“Whether you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer, or just looking for a seamless way to travel the world in comfort and style, together with Qantas and Emirates you’ll discover a range of benefits from the ground to the sky, and a truly aligned travel experience”.

A world of possibilities

“With a combined network reaching over 60 global destinations, together Qantas and Emirates offer one of the most comprehensive international networks in the world”.

“Which means you have access to the widest range of options to get from Australia and New Zealand to UK/Europe with a choice of three hub options – Dubai, Perth and Singapore, and seamless connections to destinations across Asia, Africa and the Middle East”.

Emirates: (Arabic: طَيَران الإمارات DMG:‎ ayarān Al-Imārāt) is an airline based in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The airline is a subsidiary of The Emirates Group, which is wholly owned by the Government of Dubai’s Investment Corporation of Dubai.

Under Dubai Law: Article 177 of the Penal Code, imposes cruel and vicious punishments of up to imprisonment of 10 years for consensual sodomy. In other parts of the UAE they ritually execute homosexual people. So it is a serious criminal offence. To participate in any homosexual act in the Nation that Qantas is proud to be in partnership with.

This is no doubt in strong opposition to Mr. Joyce’s own personal beliefs.

Mr. Joyce said that business had a role to play in campaigning on social issues.

“I also do believe there is a business case for this,” he said. He said: a lot of shareholders were looking at environmental, social and governance issues as a reason for tipping investments into companies”.

He said that during his talks to shareholders, “I had a few of them saying to me that they didn’t think Qantas was going far enough on this, on marriage equality and these social issues and this was very important for companies to be out there actually supporting that.”

Yet it is apparent that he is prepared to compromise his personal values when money is involved. He does this by turning a blind eye the real issues that a partnership with Emirates means. Hypocrisy? One can only imaging Mr. Joyce and his partner will not be visiting their partner State any time soon.

What about VW Germany’s top automaker Volkswagen. They will, from 2019, replace its luxury-range competitor Mercedes-Benz as the top sponsor of the national football team, the company and sports body.

The advertising marriage of VW and “Die Mannschaft”, as Germans call their team, starts on January 1, 2019 and runs until July 31, 2024.

Scant financial details were released, but German media said Wolfsburg-based VW would pay the German Football Association DFB €25-30 million (AUD $40 -48 million) a year, far more than Daimler Benz paid.

“Volkswagen and the number one national sport — that’s a great partnership,” said Herbert Diess, CEO Volkswagen, pledging that it was committed to “all German football, with its 25,000 clubs and seven million members (of the federation)”.

This is in the wake of the scandal that rocked the company when the United States of America’s, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to the German automaker. The agency had found that Volkswagen had intentionally programmed turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engines to activate their emissions controls only during laboratory emissions testing which caused the vehicles’ NOx output to meet US standards during regulatory testing, but emit up to 40 times more NOx in real-world driving. Volkswagen deployed this programming software in about eleven million cars worldwide, and 500,000 in the United States, in models for years 2009 through 2015.

Corporate cheating at its most brazen, done with the sole propose of increasing profits, deceiving Governments and people at large. Yet they throw a few bob at sports organisations desperate for funding and all is forgiven.

So what obligations do sporting codes have over corporate governance? Indeed what is ‘Corporate Governance’?

Corporate governance is the system of rules, practices and processes by which a body, firm or corporation is directed and controlled. Corporate governance essentially involves balancing the interests of the organisation, the company’s many stakeholders, such as fans, shareholders, management, customers, suppliers, financiers, government and the community at large. Since corporate governance also provides the framework for attaining a company’s objectives, it encompasses practically every sphere of management, from action plans and internal controls to performance measurement and corporate disclosure.

You can be rest assured that the people charged with running these codes have no interest in any form of real corporate governance, or reformation. Not at least while their pay-checks keep coming.  Surly it comes down to we the fans and supporters to take a stand.

Why did the thousands at the Australian Open tennis final sit unprotesting as the head of Kia, was fawningly introduced by presenters and then clapped to the microphone where he delivered some deathless platitudes about sporting greatness: “Gentlemen, I do believe both of you have demonstrated all of the qualities of a true champion throughout this year’s tournament.”

Why do the sports stars who have demonstrated their strength, both physical and psychic, on the court offer groveling words of thanks to the man with the pay cheque?

There is no difficulty with that question – the answer is money.

But why should we the average punters feel grateful to the sponsor?

We are told the great tournaments we now enjoy would not be possible without them. I don’t believe that this is so. Anyone with a reasonable memory can recall games and athletes that were little affected by mass advertising. Dawn Fraser, Ron Coote, Alan Davidson, Ron Barassi. You pick your own favourite. Do you look back with disappointment, a sense that they don’t compare and that their contests are put in the shade by the neon-lit encounters now? Are you sorry their clothes were not littered with logos? I strongly doubt it.

Those players didn’t make a lot of money but they were great. Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing anyway. You only have to look around at the behaviour and scandal-ridden lives of the young men in the Football codes, on huge pay-checks, to wonder if money isn’t the root of the problem.

But I hear you say times change and TV transforms everything, including the sports economy. Now, at any one time when you’re watching cricket or tennis, you can see up to a dozen corporate logos, on the walls, the ground, and the stands. The players have ads on their chests, heads, arms and feet. Football is worse, with jerseys, particularly in rugby league, now rendered unrecognisable by the blizzard of ads, which has hit them. At the end of a match a press conference is held, the star will sit with ads on his shirt, cap and on the tip of each collar. No crassness is a step too far.

On top of that, sycophantic “expert” commentators, speak admiringly of the sponsors and conduct nauseating conversations with barely literate individuals who tell us: “they done good today”. And all of this is between the “ads breaks that stretch for an eternity”. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Even in an age when “money doesn’t talk, it swears”, we don’t have to be swept away in a tsunami of sponsors’ ads.

Nobody begrudges the stars their money today. They are great entertainers and in the TV age their skills generate huge sums of money. But why do the money men and their appallingly obvious signs have to clutter up the spectacle so that watching sport – for those whose sensibilities haven’t been numbed by prolonged exposure to commercial broadcasts – is like watching a game through an advertiser’s kaleidoscope.

But lets look at America. The USA is not just the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is the home of corporate capitalism; it is the land of advertising, home of ad men and Mad Men. But look closely at American football or baseball and you will see very few ads. On the ground, on the jumpers, and even at the post-match news conference, the team logo will be on the backdrop and that’s it. The advertisers pay eye watering sums for their scheduled ads in the breaks and they don’t want the impact diluted by the endless sales pitch in between.

So as you try to see the next big sports event behind that hailstorm of ads, remember, it doesn’t have to be like this. It really doesn’t. Given the behaviour of many of our corporate vultures, just may be we would be much better off without their heart filled support

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