Novak Djokovic’s Australian saga gives sponsors a headache

Novak Djokovic’s Australian saga not only stopped his pressure for a record 21st Grand Slam, but also forced his multi-million dollar supporters to reconsider their relationship with one of the greatest tennis champions.

The 34-year-old world number one, who was deported from Australia on Sunday, has made more than 150 million in banking in his career.

Outside of court, the numbers are just as staggering.

In 2021 alone, according to Forbes Magazine, their sponsorship deals brought in about $ 30 million.

His place in the rich list was secured by a series of deals involving Japanese sports equipment maker Asics and French car maker Peugeot.

Djokovic’s Lecoste deal was his most lucrative, valued at about $ 9 million by some American media outlets.

However, that income still lags behind its contemporaries.

Roger Federer and Serena Williams, who both passed 40 in 2021, had બેંક 90 million and $ 40 million in bank, respectively. Japan’s Naomi Osaka attracts 55 million

Some experts believe that Djokovic’s fiery temperament and infamous missteps – which he defaulted from the 2020 US Open for accidentally throwing a ball into an official’s neck – count against him.

“The impression is that maybe he doesn’t like it as much as Federer or Rafael Nadal,” said Patrick Riche, professor of sports economics at Washington University in St. Louis, USA.

Despite being involved in many charities and respected by most of his colleagues, the split is due to Djokovic’s professional single-mindedness and attitude towards Covid-19 vaccination.

‘Image tarnished’

His confession of not being separated despite having a positive test in December has seen his character in further question.

“So any company that was probably on the fence about working with him, this particular incident burns flames for not choosing to work with him, at least in the near future,” Rishe said.

Josh Schwartz, in charge of marketing athletes at the American agency PIVOT, insisted that “their image is being tarnished by this situation, as most of the players playing in this tournament (Australian Open) have been vaccinated and respected the rules.”

“It’s unfortunate,” Rishe said, “because it’s on the verge of setting a Grand Slam victory record. Normally, when someone gets to this point, you think there will be opportunities for support, but I don’t see any coming. In the short term.” Above.”

Schwartz, however, does not see existing partners breaking their contracts in the midst of or immediately after the crisis.

“Novak Djokovic is his own man. We can’t comment on his decisions, “a spokesman for Swiss watchmaker Hublot, who signed the player last year, told AFP.

“Hublot will continue its partnership with the world number one in tennis.”

The Austrian bank Raiffeisen was more subtle, recalling its involvement “long before the report on Novak Djokovic’s vaccination status or his participation in the Australian Open”.

“As a sponsor, we are closely monitoring the situation,” he said.

However, there is a risk of rupture due to epidemic-induced emotion and heat.

“It’s a complicated situation,” Schwartz admits. “Legally, there was no mischief.”

Companies and leagues are still running nervously out of the commercial minefield associated with the health crisis.

In early November, after making vague comments about vaccinations, NFL quarter-back Aaron Rogers was left behind by only one minor sponsor, Privia Health.

NBA basketball star Kiri Irving was not harmed financially despite condemning the responsibility of vaccination for athletes in New York State.

‘Short Memories’

“As consumers, we have very short memories,” argues Favorito, a sports marketing expert who teaches at Columbia University in the United States.

“We love heroes and villains and we love seeing people overcome difficulties. If Novak Djokovic returns anywhere, he will be at the top of all this, because he has not broken any laws.

“It’s just their personal opinion. What he has done in the courts is by no means diminished. “

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