Joueur ou fédération, qui est le plus puissant dans le marketing sportif?

Le monsieur en photo, c’est Sonny Bill Williams, les fans de rugby le connaissent très bien.

Mais pour les autres, Sonny Bill est un jeune homme de 26 ans né à Auckland, jouant au rugby au poste de centre ou ailier pour la Nouvelle Zélande. Joueur atypique, SBW a commencé sa carrière dans le rugby à XIII avant d’intégrer le rugby à XV en rejoignant le Rugby Club Toulonnais (RCT). Parallèlement à cette carrière, l’international néo-zélandais s’est lancé dans une carrière de boxe… Un vrai trublion du monde du rugby et des All Blacks mais qui a réussi à se faire une place parmi l’effectif kiwi grâce à une performance de haut vol lors de sa deuxième sélection en novembre 2010 contre l’Ecosse.

Actuellement, à quelques jours de la Coupe du Monde la plus importante de la Nouvelle-Zélande car organisée sur son propre sol, Sonny Bill Williams est rentré en conflit avec la Fédération Néo-Zélandaise de rugby (NZRU). Je m’explique.

En Nouvelle-Zélande, chaque international signe un contrat avec la fédération, lui permettant de jouer avec des clubs du pays, et surtout de ne pas aller jouer ailleurs. Les joueurs néo-zélandais jouant à l’étranger ont soit reçus des dérogations de la fédération (ex: Dan Carter lors de son passage de 6 mois à Perpignan) ou signés des contrats avec ces fédérations ou clubs avec comme conséquence immédiate leur inéligibilité pour la sélection internationale (ex: Mils Mulaina qui a annoncé sa signature au Japon après la Coupe du Monde ou Joe Rokocoko qui évoluera à Bayonne à la rentrée). Une règle qui fonctionne bien puisque pas loin de 20 internationaux All Blacks ont signé avec la NZRU, notamment Richie McCaw et Dan Carter qui ont rempilé pour 4 ans et plus récemment Owen Franks, Richard Kahui, Isaia Toeava, Zac Guildford et Andy Ellis.

En dépit des déclarations positives de la part de la fédération et de l’engagement du joueur à évoluer en Nouvelle-Zélande après la Coupe du Monde, les relations entre Sonny Bill et la NZRU se sont tendues sur un détail de niveau marketing et non sportif. En effet, l’agent de SBW, Khoder Nasser, a annoncé un contrat de sponsoring entre le joueur et une marque australienne mais il semblerait que cette marque soit un concurrent direct d’un des partenaires de la NZRU. La NZRU a invalidé ce deal, rappelant les détails de l’accord collectif avec les joueurs qui stipule que les contrats signés entre la NZRU et les marques partenaires prévalent. Prenant note de cette décision, l’agent a donc demandé à la NZRU d’augmenter la valeur du contrat pour compenser la perte financière, argument que la NZRU a aussi rejeté. Ce dernier incident remet donc en cause la reconduction du contrat avec le joueur et réouvre les portes à un transfert à l’étranger, surtout si les prestations du joueur durant les Tri-Nations confirment son statut.

La situation entre Sonny Bill Williams et la NZRU est révélatrice de la lutte de pouvoir entre joueurs et club/fédérations dans le marketing sportif. Cristiano Ronaldo, avec Nike, évoluant au Real Madrid, habillé par adidasDans le rugby néo-zélandais, les règles sont claires, la fédération a quasiment les pleins pouvoirs. En Europe et plus particulièrement dans le football, la configuration a évolué au cours des années 1990 en faveur des joueurs et de leurs sponsors. En effet, un joueur qui regagnait sa sélection à l’époque devait porter les couleurs de son pays et honorer les contrats de sponsoring passés par la fédération avec des marques. Cet accord posait problème pour les équipementiers et notamment adidas et Nike qui se livraient une lutte sans merci dans le marketing sportif et les contrats d’ambassadeurs (regardez le documentaire sur France 98 qui vous expliquera cela) et qui ont vu dans les joueurs un nouveau support de communication venant troubler la hiérarchie en place et une opportunité d’ambush extrêmement fructueuse et lucrative.

Impossible de dire et de savoir dans quel sens cette relation va évoluer dans le monde du marketing sportif mais elle est clairement l’un des enjeux majeurs des stratégies sponsoring des marques.

 

51 Commentaires

  1. Article très intéressant. La situation doit évoluer et le problème risque de se reproduire avec certains joueurs du XV de France lors du passage de Nike à Adidas début 2012 (même si je ne connais pas les contrats passer entre la marque et les joueurs).

  2. Cette news concernt adidas et l’equipe de france de rugby je la connassais pas. Merci pour l’info. Nike qui gagne la fff, adidas la ffr, ca ressemble a un deal entre les deux federations.

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