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Henry to be face sponsorship boycott?

Thierry Henry could be set to face a boycott from his sponsors after his controversial handball against Ireland.

As public fury mounted over the Frenchman's role in depriving Ireland of a World Cup place, sponsorship experts warned the footballer could see his annual £15million endorsement deals hit.

Today sponsors were faced with growing evidence of the backlash against their client as millions of football fans turned against him on the internet, vandalising the fallen idol's wikipedia page which had to be locked.

Irish prime minister Brian Cowen has accused Henry of foul play and vowed to raise the matter personally with French president Nicolas Sarkozy when they meet at an EU summit.

Sponsors including Gillette, Reebok and Pepsi Cola - tied into strict contracts with their client - have so far stood by Henry. But experts reckon his future earning power may be hit.

Pippa Collett, managing director of Sponsorship Consulting, said: "There's a fine line between an accident and cheating, but in this case Thierry Henry admits that he cheated and perhaps he would have been wise not to comment because that has damaged his integrity.

"If you were a brand that traded very much on trust - products in health care, for example - it would be a bit unfortunate to be aligned with him. I don't think he'll be endorsing financial services any time soon either."

Henry, 32, has been the face of global brands including Renault, Nike, Gillette and Pepsi. Between 2001 and 2006 he earned a reported £14million from Nike, a company he ditched in 2006 to sign with Reebok for a signing-on fee of £9million. He replaced David Beckham as one of the faces of Gillette. This earns him about £2million a year.


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