London/Moscow — Fifa is struggling to secure new commercial partners in time for next year’s World Cup in Russia, with international and local groups balking at the financial cost and reputational risk of being associated with one of the world’s most-watched sporting events. World football’s governing body lost several major sponsors, including Sony and Emirates, when their deals ended at the end of the last tournament in 2014. For the 2018 tournament in Russia, Fifa has 10 companies signed up as sponsors, but before the last tournament in Brazil, the organisation had 20 corporate partners on board. The difficulties come as both Fifa, which is trying to emerge from a corruption scandal, and Russia, a pariah for many in the west since it annexed Crimea in 2014, battle with image problems. Sponsorship and broadcasting deals help cover the $2bn operational costs of running the event, while the host nation picks up the tab for infrastructure such as building stadiums. Local companies ha...

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