Volkswagen emissions scandal could impact German football sponsorship

The ongoing Volkswagen emissions scandal could have consequences for German football, with the car manufacturer's former CEO Martin Winterkorn -- who resigned on Wednesday -- regarded as one of the game's biggest sponsors.

The scandal over falsified U.S. vehicle emission tests -- which, according to Volkswagen, could affect 11 million of its cars around the globe -- saw VW shares in Germany drop by over one third of their value within two days and Winterkorn's future questioned.

While Winterkorn vowed on Tuesday not to step down as the CEO of Germany's biggest car manufacturer "because of the mistakes of a few," he resigned on Wednesday following a meeting between members of VW's supervisory board in Wolfsburg.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for "complete transparency" from one of the nation's biggest companies, which employed 271,000 of its worldwide total of 594,000 employees in Germany as of November 2014.

Prior to Winterkorn's announcement, VW's supervisory board met on Wednesday to discuss the consequences of the falsified emission tests amid ongoing investigations by the U.S. authorities. The car manufacturer could also face penalty fines of up to $18 billion.

Volkswagen, in recent years, have become one of German football's biggest sponsors. When Winterkorn became the CEO of the company in 2007, he started investing heavily in Wolfsburg, who are owned by the car manufacturer.

According to reports earlier this year -- when Winterkorn and Ferdinand Piech, who was the head of the supervisory board, battled for control -- the 2015 DFB-Pokal winners are currently receiving some €80m in sponsorship money.

Bild reports that the €80m figure could have been reduced to €30m in the event that Winterkorn had lost the power struggle.

The 68-year-old is also a member of Bayern Munich's supervisory board, where Audi -- a Volkswagen subsidiary -- hold about 9 percent of the club's shares.

Audi also holds stakes in Bundesliga club Ingolstadt and Volkswagen sponsor several other German clubs, as well as the DFB-Pokal -- the German Cup -- since the 2012-2013 season.

In late March 2015, the German Football League [DFL] tightened its third party investor regulations, allowing companies to only own a stake of more than 10 percent at one club "to protect the integrity and the credibility of the sporting competition."

The DFL, however, included a clause -- dubbed the "Lex Volkswagen" in Germany -- saying that an existing agreement can't be changed.

In late June, Winterkorn defended Vokswagen's heavy investments in football, telling Bild: "The commitment pays off. Thanks to our commitment we sell more cars in the regions, be it Munich, Gelsenkirchen or Bremen."