EXCLUSIVE: Commercial chief Thomas to leave Fifa

Simon Thomas, chief commercial officer at Fifa, has decided to leave the Zurich-based international federation after just 12 months in the role, SportBusiness can reveal.

Thomas is to depart at the end of October, leaving Fifa in the market once again for a new commercial chief.

Members of Fifa’s commercial team are understood to have been informed of the news this morning.

Thomas arrived at Fifa last year as a replacement for Philippe Le Floc’h, who returned to Malaysia and subsequently assumed a senior commercial strategy consultant role at World Table Tennis, the new commercial arm of the International Table Tennis Federation.

The appointment of Thomas led to a structural overhaul of Fifa’s commercial operation with the commercial and digital divisions successfully merged, a series of hires made to strengthen the marketing department and all content creation brought under one roof. The decision to merge the commercial and digital departments was made given the evolving and converging nature of the digital marketplace.

Shortly after Thomas’ arrival, Fifa also recruited CAA Eleven’s Jean-Christophe Petit as its new director of media rights, following Josh Smith’s move to become global head of media sales at the Premier League.

As the Covid-19 crisis hit, Thomas and his team also developed digital content offerings to provide to broadcasters unable to show live action. Archive footage to various historic Fifa World Cup matches was provided free of charge to rights-holding broadcasters.

Departing Fifa commercial chief Simon Thomas

After exiting the Team Marketing agency 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 had been splitting his time between London and Zurich after setting up Talisman.

Thomas 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.