Beer manufacturer Cruzcampo has opted to cease its sponsorship of the Spanish national football team due to ‘differences of opinion’ with the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF)’s boss Luis Rubiales.
Cruzcampo, a brand owned by Heineken Spain, has sponsored La Roja (‘The Reds’), as the Spanish team is known, for 10 years, seeing it through its 2010 World Cup and 2012 UEFA Euro wins.
But the company says it cannot work with Rubiales, who became RFEF chairman a month before this year’s World Cup.
Corporate Relationships Manager Marcos Tarancón says that after ’10 years of successful cooperation’ between Cruzcampo and the Spanish national team, ‘Heineken Spain has decided not to renew its sponsorship contract which expires on August 31 this year’.
“The honesty that forms an integral part of Cruzcampo’s character, its close relationship and the support it has always shown the national team has led us to communicate this decision to the RFEF as swiftly as possible for ease of admin and to minimise any negative effects it may cause,” Tarancón said in a press conference this week.
Cruzcampo is ‘very concerned’ about the ‘aggressive attitude’ of Rubiales and his ‘smear’ against the company by accusing them of wasting money by arranging for its directors, family members of Spanish players and sponsors to travel to Russia for the World Cup.
The firm said at the time it was considering not renewing its contract as a result, since the accusations gave a ‘poor public impression’ of Cruzcampo – despite the fact that the costs of the trips were paid entirely by the sponsors themselves and not by the RFEF.
Rubiales has only been in the job since early spring, and has already caused upset and controversy – his unilateral decision to sack the Spanish team manager, Julen Lopetegui, two days before the start of the World Cup and when La Roja was already in Russia may have cost them at least a place in the semi-finals.
Lopetegui had signed up as manager of Real Madrid, intending to leave the Spanish team for his new job after the World Cup, but the club leaked the information ahead of kick-off, incensing Rubiales who felt he had been left out of the loop.
He fired Lopetegui in a rage, and RFEF sporting director Fernando Hierro, who had no experience in leading a national team, was drafted in at the last minute.
After scraping a 1-0 victory against Iran and drawing against Morocco and Portugal, Spain lost to Russia on penalties, knocking them out of the tournament in the quarter-finals and leading to Hierro’s resigning less than four weeks into his role.
New team manager Luis Enrique has been a successful player and trainer for FC Barcelona and hopes to get La Roja back on track in a bid to reclaim their UEFA Euro title in 2020.