By Kelly Gerrish
With FIFA rocked by corruption arrests and an investigation into the hosting for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, football’s global governing body is under the microscope.
FIFA already lost sponsors last year amid growing controversy but it still counts on some of the world’s biggest and best-known brands.
With pressure mounting and sponsors wanting to distance themselves from a scandal involving bribery, fraud and money laundering, here’s what FIFA’s major partners had to say:
“Our disappointment and concern with FIFA in light of today’s developments is profound. As a sponsor, we expect FIFA to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organization. This starts with rebuilding a culture with strong ethical practices in order to restore the reputation of the games for fans everywhere.”
Visa go as far as to threaten to pull its FIFA sponsorship, saying that unless FIFA rebuilds a corporate culture with “strong ethical practices” at its heart, “we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship”.
“This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations. We expect FIFA to continue to address these issues thoroughly. FIFA has stated that it is responding to all requests for information and we are confident it will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities.”
“McDonald’s takes matters of ethics and corruption very seriously and the news from the U.S. Department of Justice is extremely concerning. We are in contact with FIFA on this matter. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely.”
“The Adidas Group is fully committed to creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics and compliance, and we expect the same from our partners. Following today’s news, we can therefore only encourage FIFA to continue to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do.”
As brands line up to distance themselves from the controversy, it remains to be seen whether FIFA, or indeed the World Cup, can survive the latest scandal. The strong statements from sponsors embarrassed by their association with FIFA show a concern that continuing that partnership could irreversibly damage their brand reputation. Sponsors paid a whopping $1.6 billion alone in 2014 to simply associate their brand with FIFA. But can they afford to continue to be linked with an organisation that is so seemingly corrupt? Sony already walked away in December 2014 – could we now see the others follow suit?