By Susan Westemeyer
Is the T-Mobile Team going to lose its sponsor? In the middle of a strike by 15,000 workers, Telekom boss Rene Obermann said this week "We are checking all of our sponsoring activities and must become more efficient in this area." He particularly mentioned pro cycling which is in a "difficult situation."
Obermann said that this year it must reduce the budget drastically according to Welt magazine. The sport sponsoring must reflect positively on the firm, he noted, and indicated that this could affect the cycling team.
Christian Frommert, Vice President for Sponsoring Communications, told Cyclingnews that the two T-Mobile sponsored teams don't have to worry. "As we said last year; we will stay in cycling. We have a contract until the end of 2010. Together with Bob Stapleton and his team, we want to go a new way and, together, we are committed to a fair and proper sport.
"I think we had and have remarkable success in the time since we announced our new program last September. The company has sponsored cycling for 16 years now. We have a responsibility to pro cycling, as well as to hobby cyclists." He added a caveat, though. "But -- we watch the changes in cycling attentively."
In addition to the two cycling teams, Telekom sponsors many other sports teams, leagues and events, throughout its various divisions of T-Mobile, T-Home, and so on. According to Frommert, these include FC Bayern München ("the most successful football team in Germany and former champions-league winner"); the German national football team; the German bundesliga (the German football league); Shosholoza (the South African America's Cup boat); and the Telekom Baskets (a German league basketball team).
"There are also some sponsorships handled in other [T-Mobile-]countries, for example the Czech national football team, some football activities in the UK and Hungary, and some sailing and skiing activities in Croatia.
"We have to make our sponsorships more efficient by using a network and a combined platform. This will help us and the sports we are committed to," Frommert concluded.