Berlin - The emissions scandal rocking German carmaker Volkswagen will not affect the company's investment in its Bundesliga soccer club VfL Wolfsburg, sports director Klaus Allofs said on Wednesday.
Europe's biggest carmaker has admitted cheating in diesel emissions tests in the United States and Germany's transport minister says it also manipulated them in Europe, where Volkswagen sells about 40 percent of its vehicles.
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"If you look at the entire company then the financial involvement (in the club) is minimal," Allofs told Die Zeit newspaper. "The VfL in turn is more worth to the Volkswagen brand than the actual invested sum. It could play a special role."
Volkswagen owns the German Cup winners who were also Bundesliga runners-up last season, pumping an estimated 100 million euros ($111.96 million) annually into it.
The company, however, is under huge pressure to address a crisis that has wiped more than a third off its market value, sent shock waves through the global car market and could harm Germany's economy.
Sports business experts have said Wolfsburg, who also compete in the Champions League this season and are seen as potential domestic title contenders behind champions Bayern Munich, could help repair some of the damage to the brand.
"One of the things football is good at doing is to engage fans and to create a bond with people who will ultimately buy your cars," Simon Chadwick, Professor for Sport Business Strategy and Marketing at Coventry University, told Reuters last week.
"The other argument is that VW is so deeply embedded in German national culture, it would be difficult to extricate itself from its relationship with clubs. To desert teams or communities would be counter-productive and would further damage the brand." ($1 = 0.8932 euros)