Coca-Cola slams ‘disappointing’ World Cup bidding report

Coca-Cola has moved to distance its sponsorship of FIFA from the controversy swirling around the organisation’s handling of corruption accusations, slamming the efforts as “disappointing”.

Coke’s frustrations are in response to the row that has erupted over an investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

A summary of the report earlier this month cleared successful bidders Russia and Qatar over any wrongdoing, while criticising aspects of England’s 2018 bid. However, the report’s author Michael Garcia claimed the conclusions were misrepresented, sparking calls for the full report to be released.

FIFA says legal restrictions mean it can’t release full details of the report. The impasse has likely heaped pressure on the organisation from its sponsors, reigniting the concerns that first pushed them to demand an investigation into FIFA’s controversial World Cup decisions earlier this year.

Coke says the conflicting views around the ensuing report dent the values it has tried to build with FIFA for almost 40 years. In a statement it says: “Anything that detracts from the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup is a concern to us.  The current conflicting perspectives regarding the investigation are disappointing. Our expectation is that this will be resolved quickly in a transparent and efficient manner.”

Other FIFA backers Budweiser and Adidas did not respond to requests for comment on the Garcia report by the time this article was published. Both brands along with Hyundai, BP and Visa have already expressed concerns over the negative tenor around the corruption allegations before this year’s World Cup.

Coke’s critique of FIFA calls into question the value of sponsoring an organisation that has
been repeatedly dogged by corruption allegations in recent years. Last month, Emirates opted not to renew its lucrative sponsorship deal with the governing body, citing unfavourable contractual terms. Meanwhile, Sony is understood to be considering a termination of its partnership to focus on its tie-up with UEFA.

The World Cup in Brazil generated $4bn in revenue, with $1.4bn coming from sponsorships and $2.6bn from TV rights. Since the 2006 Word Cup, sponsorship revenue increased 33% for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and is said to have jumped 10% to £1.4bn for the 2014 edition, according to Forbes. Emirates spent around $100m over the past four years to be one of FIFA’s partners, according to Brand Finance.

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