Sponsors worried about “distressing” FIFA allegations

Football’s biggest sponsors have warned that the sport’s governing body must take swift action to deal with the controversy over alleged corruption or risk damaging the reputation of the game.

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Coca-Cola, Adidas, Visa and Emirates have all voiced concern over the crisis that has seen senior members of FIFA’s executive committee accused of bribery.

Allegations of corruption have beset FIFA since the vote to decide the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup’s took place last year. Executive committee members Mohamed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner have been provisionally suspended by FIFA’s ethics committee for allegedly offering financial incentives to secure votes.

A spokesman for Coca-Cola says: “The current allegations being raised are distressing and bad for the sport.”

Adidas says it remains committed to its sponsorship deal with FIFA but that the “negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for Fifa and its partners.”

Visa and Emirates have called on FIFA to ensure that the matter is resolved quickly. Fellow sponsors Sony and Hyundai-Kia Motors declined to comment.

All four have invested millions in the sport as well as providing services during the four-yearly World Cup.

Karen Earl, chairman of the European Sponsorship Association, says that sponsors want to be associated with the sport they do not want to be linked to a body “that has not got its house in order”.

The controversy has already hit FIFA’s brand perception which according to YouGov has “suffered long-term damage and shows no signs of improving”. FIFA’s buzz fell sharply to -26 and reputation reached a new low of -7.

Despite the controversy, FIFA President Sepp Blatter denied that there was crisis in world soccer, “only difficulties”. As Marketing Week went to press, it was expected that Blatter would be re elected as president after his only rival Bin Hammam withdrew from the race.

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