Gazprom Neft Supports the President’s Favorite Sport

The company became the general partner of the Russian judo championship.
Gazprom Neft has signed a sponsorship contract with the Russian Judo Federation (FDR): the oil company has become its general partner. A representative of Gazprom Neft told Vedomosti about this and confirmed the FDR representative.

The amount of the contract, its terms and conditions were not disclosed by the parties. A representative of Gazprom Neft noted that the company is happy to help judoists during their preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Japan is the birthplace of judo.

Gazprom Neft also became the title sponsor of the main Russian judo competition - the Russian Championship, the name of which will now appear in the name of the company. This year the championship takes place from 10 to 13 October in Grozny.

Such a contract can cost from 10 million to 50 million rubles. per year, says Denis Pokhaznikov, director of financial consulting (including sports projects) at Deloitte in the CIS. Managing partner Depot WPF Alexey Andreev agrees: most likely tens of millions of rubles.

It took much more money to train judoists for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro: in 2012–2016. Federation spent more than 2.5 billion rubles. For these purposes, said TASS FDR President Vasily Anisimov.

Fashionable sports are now a bit, Andreev continues: this is football and hockey, and martial arts are gaining momentum.

The most famous Russian judoka is President Vladimir Putin. He is a master of sports, is engaged in judo since 11 years.

This is a profitable investment: the company increases brand awareness, using the competition as a platform for negotiations, says Vladimir Voloshin, Managing Partner of Newman Sport & Business Consulting. Large corporations usually become title sponsors of cups, not championships organized by federations, he said, and cites as an example the figure skating competition at the Russian Cup, whose name is the name of the general partner of the Federation of Figure Skating - Rostelecom. Such contracts are concluded only with the permission of the federations, the expert explains. It seems that for the first time it was the championship that received the name of the general partner, Voloshin summarizes.

The general partner of FDR was Coalco Development, the chairman of the federation Vasily Anisimov, now she is just a partner. The FDR had no title sponsor, its representative said.

Other partners of FDR are SMP Bank, controlled by the Rothenberg brothers, the Yavara-Neva sports club of the elder brother, Arkady Rotenberg, President Putin’s sparring partner in judo, and the National Union of Judo Veterans and the Fatherland Sports Society Boris Rothenberg. The Rotenberg brothers are members of the FDR leadership: Arkady is the first vice president, Boris is the vice president.

Of course, for Gazprom Neft, this is a political gesture, since judo is popular with businessmen close to the Kremlin, Voloshin believes.

Today, sports and competitions are elements of Russia's soft power, says political scientist Yevgeny Minchenko: large corporations have divided sports among themselves, but judo is no longer the main one. Recently, Putin has become increasingly keen on hockey, Minchenko remarks.

Gazprom Neft is already sponsoring football clubs - Zenit St. Petersburg and Red Star Zvezda (Serbia), as well as SKA (Petersburg) hockey clubs (Avangard) (Omsk). Gazprom Neft has a competition in which the company acts as a title sponsor, the Gazprom Neft Cup, a children's tournament of the Continental Hockey League.

The representative of the "SMP Bank" declined to comment. In the club "Yavara-Neva" and in Coalco Development did not respond to requests.