Why do international football teams have no sponsorship on their shirts?

Sponsorship of international football teams

Many international football teams participating in international competitions are sponsored by various companies. For example, the national football teams of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been sponsored by Vauxhall Motors since 2011.

However, the names of these sponsors are not seen on the front of the shirts worn by the players during international matches because this is prohibited under FIFA regulations: all football teams participating in international tournaments such as the World Cup must adhere to these regulations.

Why is this prohibition in place?

One reason behind the ban on sponsorship being displayed on the front of the international shirts is to protect the integrity of the competition. However, FIFA also has a duty to protect the exclusivity of the official sponsors of the event.

To which stages of an international tournament does this prohibition apply?

This ban does not simply apply to the final stages of an international tournament such as the World Cup, it also applies to the qualifying stages of the tournament as these matches are all part of the tournament and thus come under the FIFA regulations.

Does the ban on sponsorship on the front of the shirts extend to the manufacturer of the shirt?

The prohibition of sponsorship on the front of international football shirts does not extend to the company with manufactures the kit which the players wear. For example, the brand which manufactures the England national football team kit can be displayed on the front of the shirt during an international match.

Are there any restrictions on the sponsorship of domestic teams playing in the FA Premier League?

All teams playing in the FA Premier League have a variety of sponsorship agreements with different companies and in most cases the name of one of these companies – the principal sponsor of the team – will appear on the front of the shirt.

However, this right to have the sponsor on the front of the shirt does not come without restrictions. The advertising and sponsorship restrictions on the kit of English football teams are administered by the Football Association through their various regulations. The FA rules exist to protect the integrity of the competition to ensure teams are not covered in sponsorship detracting from the spectacle of the game.

The FA clothing regulations state that on the clothing of a player on the field of play, the following areas shall be permitted to be used for advertising:

  • one single area not exceeding 200 square centimetres on the front of the shirt;
  • one single area not exceeding 100 square centimetres on the back of the shirt;
  • one single area not exceeding 100 square centimetres on the back of the shorts;
  • once only on each sock tie-up providing it does not exceed an area of 100 square centimetres.

If a club or competition elects to have an area of sponsor advertising only on the front of the shirt, and on no other item of playing kit, that area may be increased to a maximum of 250 square centimetres if approved by the competition.

One or more company may be advertised and, in respect of any one company, one or more of their products. The same advertising must appear in the same form on the clothing of all players and club officials wherever such advertising appears, throughout the entirety of the match.