The financial firm has publically revealed its misgivings about the transparency of the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. By doing so, it is looking to force football’s governing body into resolving the conflicting views around an investigation into both bids, which are alleged to have been awarded to Russia and Qatar illegally.
Visa said it is “troubled” by the ensuing furore from both the public and the media and has insisted to FIFA that it take a more proactive approach to tempering the mounting concerns. The organisation has denied any wrongdoing in the days since Coke became the first sponsor to slam the investigation and has said that both Emirates and Sony’s decisions to end their sponsorships were unrelated to the recent scandal.
Despite its concerns, Visa is unlikely to cut its lucrative commercial ties to FIFA after penning a new deal to 2022 earlier this year. But like Coke, which has also extended its deal, the world’s biggest credit card firm hopes its efforts are seen as it taking an ethical stance, a move that could protect its reputation amid the controversy.
It is a tactic that is becoming more commonplace in the communications armouries of companies as they look to distance themselves from such controversies when tied to multimillion commercial deals. Zoopla axed its deal with West Bromwich Albion at the turn of the year following the club’s refusal to condemn striker Nicolas Anelka’s controversial ‘quenelle’ salute, while Adidas reviewed its deal with golfer Sergio Garcia 2013 following accusations he made a racist joke about rival Tiger Woods.
Adidas, BP and Hyundai have all yet to voice their opinions on the controversial investigation. The steady trickle of announcements from sponsors condemning FIFA echoes the same tactic that emerged earlier this year when several urged the organisation to investigate the bids after Sony became the first.
The news comes amid fresh reports that Sony has pulled its FIFA World Cup sponsorship. The rumours first came to light earlier this year but the company has not yet publically confirmed its decision.