Simon Thomas, the experienced sports marketing executive, is to replace Philippe Le Floc’h as chief commercial officer at Fifa, football’s international federation.
Thomas, the former chief executive of the Team Marketing agency, is coming on board to lead the commercial operations at the Zurich-based body.
Having been appointed as Fifa’s chief commercial officer just under three years ago as then new president Gianni Infantino undertook an organisational overhaul, Le Floc’h has left for “personal reasons” and will now return to Malaysia to continue his career in the Asian region, Fifa said.
The appointment of Thomas is expected to lead to a structural overhaul of Fifa’s commercial operation and is likely to lead to staffing changes. Fifa today hinted at an overhaul by highlighting Thomas’ “very strong leadership credentials and a track record of implementing organisational change”.
After exiting Team in 2012 along with fellow members of the management board, Thomas became Fox International Channels’ global executive vice-president of sport and sales at the end of 2013. In the middle of 2016, he left Fox as the broadcaster’s international sports activities continued to decentralise and went on to set up the London-based Talisman Sports Media, an independent media rights agency. Thomas has been splitting his time between London and Zurich since setting up Talisman.
Despite Thomas’ move to Fifa, it is understood that Talisman will continue to be operated by Andrew Guy, the former Team and CAA Eleven executive who left Fox at the same time to jointly set up the consultancy. Talisman’s main remit is the distribution of international media rights to SailGP, the new sailing series.
Thomas (pictured) also counts overall responsibility for broadcast production and sales at Sydney’s 2000 Paralympic Games among his experience, along with a spell at Nike Australia.
Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura said that Thomas’ arrival “further confirms Fifa’s commitment to forge ahead with the development of our in-house capabilities, the growth of our competitions, and the management of our sporting assets”.
She added: “We believe that we are building the right team to take Fifa to the next level and to extract the full potential from a diverse and dynamic media and sponsorship marketplace, the results of which will be invested straight back into the development of football across the entire world.”
Having joined Fifa in October 2016 in the newly-created position of chief commercial officer, Le Floc’h went on to restructure the commercial operations in Zurich and made a series of personnel hires. At the time of his arrival, Fifa was in the midst of internal discussions over whether to turn to move from an in-house to an agency (or hybrid) model for sponsorship sales.
Both Niclas Ericson and Thierry Weil, the long-standing directors of TV and marketing, respectively, left Fifa around the time of Le Floc’h coming on board, as Infantino continued to enact change.
Fifa said at the time that the chief commercial officer position had been established as part of the on-going restructuring of its administration to “build a stronger and more sustainable organisation”.
Le Floc’h, the former marketing director at Uefa, joined Fifa from Customised Solutions FZ, his Dubai-based consultancy. He has also worked as marketing director at LaLiga amid the Spanish league’s major international push and director of marketing development at CAA Sports.
Samoura today (Monday) thanked Le Floc’h publicly and said Fifa “looks forward to continuing to work with him in future”.