Fifa recruits CAA Eleven's Petit into new-look commercial team
By Jonathan Rest
Jean-Christophe Petit, the experienced media rights sales executive presently with CAA Eleven, the sales agency of European soccer's governing body Uefa, is to join Fifa as director of media sales in a streamlining of the organisation's commercial structure, Sportcal can reveal.
Petit has spent the past seven years at CAA Eleven, most recently as senior vice-president and head of media, having spent six years in media rights roles at Uefa and before that was a rights acquisition manager at Eurosport, the pan-European sports broadcaster.
Petit will join a new-look Fifa commercial team, with the commercial and digital departments being merged into a single division to reflect the rapidly converging media landscape. The division will be led by new chief commercial officer Simon Thomas, the experienced sports marketing industry executive whose appointment was announced early last month.
Fifa told Sportcal today: "The idea is to have an integrated operational approach, designed to optimise commercial opportunities, drive efficiencies and to promote engagement with football fans worldwide."
The merger of the two departments has led to the exit of Luis Vicente, Fifa's chief digital transformation and innovation officer, who joined the governing body in January 2018.
The federation said Vicente had "decided to pursue other professional avenues and has now left Fifa."
Vicente, a former chief revenue and marketing officer at Spanish club Valencia and head of partnerships at England's Manchester City, only took on the chief digital transformation and innovation officer role 13 months ago, overseeing digital, content, technology, eSports and data, among other responsibilities.
Earlier this year, Josh Smith quit as director of television services at Fifa to join the Premier League, as global head of media sales, a role he officially began this month.
Smith joined Fifa in May 2017 to head up the federation’s broadcast operation, with responsibilities including driving an increase in media rights sales, supporting the sales team in key negotiations and advancing the production and post-production processes.
Thomas has officially started work at Fifa headquarters in Zurich, as the replacement for Philippe Le Floc’h who left after three years in the role and is relocating to Malaysia.
Thomas is a former chief executive of Team Marketing, the agency responsible for marketing commercial rights to Uefa club competitions. He left in 2012, re-emerging in the industry in late-2013 as executive vice-president of global sports and content sales at Fox International Channels, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.
For the last three years, he had been managing director of Talisman Sports Media, a boutique agency and consultancy set up in partnership with another former Fox and Team executive Andrew Guy.
Le Floc'h, the former marketing director of Uefa, joined Fifa in 2016, filling a new role overseeing the marketing and TV departments as part of an overhaul of the federation's administration under new president Gianni Infantino, which has seen commercial activity previously conducted by agencies brought in-house.