FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, has appointed experienced marketing executive Romy Gai as its new chief business officer.
Gai will replace Kay Madati who is to step down from his role as chief commercial officer in the coming months for personal reasons.
Madati will remain with the governing body until the end of June to manage the transition period.
The digital media executive has served as FIFA’s commercial head for less than 12 months after being appointed in July 2021.
Madati had succeeded Simon Thomas, the experienced agency and broadcasting executive, who left FIFA in October 2020 after little more than a year in the post.
Gai becomes the governing body’s fourth commercial lead in just four years.
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He joins FIFA from marketing agency AWE International Group, which he co-founded and has been chairman of since 2015.
Prior to that, his career includes 14 years in senior marketing roles at Italian Serie A giants Juventus, and two years as chief executive of the UAE Football League (UFL) in the United Arab Emirates.
Gai joins the organization in a World Cup year, with the 2022 edition to take place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18 – the first to be held in the Middle East and in the northern hemisphere winter.
Speaking on his appointment, Gai said: “FIFA has many opportunities to grow football in our fast-changing world, and I look forward to ensuring that our commercial team plays a substantial part in ensuring that world football’s governing body will be at the center of all these important business developments in order to benefit our sport globally.”
FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura added: “As chief business officer, Romy’s appointment will further strengthen FIFA’s commitment to our commercial and marketing partners.
“He has had a lifetime involvement in football, and we are delighted to have his expertise to help shape our future business ventures across the world.”
Samoura credited Madati with playing a key role in the launch of the FIFA+ streaming service that went live earlier this week (April 12).
The global free streaming platform will provide fans worldwide with access to live games, match archives, original feature content, and a match center.
The federation stated that, this year alone, over 40,000 live matches will be made available through FIFA+.
Samoura said FIFA+ reflects Madati’s work in his brief spell under a mandate to “cultivate and develop the countless opportunities today's virtual multimedia landscape offers football”.
Under Thomas and prior to Madati’s arrival last year, FIFA had completed the merger of its commercial and digital departments into a single division to reflect the rapidly converging media landscape.
Madati said: “It has been an honor and privilege to lead this dynamic commercial team and work hand in hand with our partners and the FIFA management team to grow this beautiful game.
“This personal decision to focus on my family has not come lightly, and I remain committed to collaborating closely with Romy to set him, our partners, and the entire FIFA team up for success as we collectively head towards a very special FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”
FIFA recently completed its global sponsorship portfolio for the World Cup with QatarEnergy, the state-owned oil company, named as the final top-tier global partner last month (March 28).
That deal means that there is now only one regional supporter package available for the tournament – in the Middle East and Africa region.
Indian educational technology firm Byju’s was also signed up as a second-tier World Cup sponsor in March.
The other top-tier FIFA partners supporting Qatar 2022 are Adidas, Coca-Cola, Wanda Group, Hyundai, Qatar Airways, and Visa.
Second-tier FIFA World Cup sponsors, meanwhile, are Budweiser, Crypto.com, Hisense, McDonald’s, China Mengniu Dairy Company, and Vivo.