Another blow for Fiji’s World Cup campaign

Fiji rugby officials say their national team has no major sponsor 42 days from the start of the World Cup and is relying on the support of its government and generosity of fans to fund its participation.

Fiji Rugby Union marketing manager Tevita Waqairawai told a news conference that the union was in negotiation with “a couple” of potential sponsors but interest had been hit by Fiji’s recent results, including a 60-14 loss to New Zealand at Dunedin last Friday.

Waqairawai told Fiji media “the timing is now critical for whoever is going to come on board because we are just round the corner and one of the difficulties we are facing with sponsorship is the mixed results the team has been getting.”

Fiji lost in the quarterfinals at the last World Cup to eventual champion South Africa, but won plenty of support for its attacking flair.

The Fiji government has so far released 2.6 million Fiji dollars ($1.5 million) of a planned 3 million Fiji dollar ($1.7 million) grant to fund the team’s World Cup preparation.

The remaining 400,000 Fiji dollars ($232,000) was expected to be released shortly.

The International Rugby Board had provided 200,000 Fiji dollars ($116,000) last year and 100,000 ($58,000) earlier this month toward the cost of Fiji’s Cup buildup, FRU chief executive Pio Bosco Tokoisuva told local media.

Tokoisuva said government funding “is not given to us directly but is made available if we produce evidence for payment. This is by far the biggest funding we’ve had from a source made available to us.”

He said some of the government funding went toward player allowances. Fiji World Cup squad members receive 250 Fiji dollars ($145) a week when they were in training camps and 100 Fiji dollar ($58) a day if they are overseas.

“This is roughly what the players get and there is another figure if they go out to the Rugby World Cup,” Tokoisuva said. “The incentives have to be there because these players have sacrificed a lot, especially those contracted to clubs and do not get paid until they return to their clubs.”

Tokoisuva said he was unable to specify exactly how much Fiji needed to fully fund its World Cup campaign. He said the Fiji Rugby Union had drawn up a budget in 2010 and was still working to that budget.

Fiji will play in Pool D at the World Cup with South Africa, Wales, Samoa and Namibia. The World Cup is one of the rare tournaments when Fiji is able to assemble its top squad, drawing its players from clubs in Europe and Australasia.

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