FIFA in crisis: sponsors get cold feet while UEFA mulls boycotting annual congress

Top sponsors including Visa, Coca-Cola, Budweiser and Adidas warn on support after corruption arrests

FIFA president Sepp Blatter is facing the biggest crisis since he took the helm of the international football body 17 years ago.

Following the arrest of six senior FIFA officials over charges of corruption, including money-laundering and fraud, key sponsors have begun to voice concern.

Meanwhile UEFA, the influential European football body, is putting further pressure on Blatter, as the organisation decides today whether it should boycott FIFA’s annual congress on Friday.

Kill football

In a statement, UEFA said: “The upcoming Fifa congress risks turning into a farce and therefore the European associations will have to consider carefully if they should even attend this congress and caution a system, which, if it is not stopped, will ultimately kill football.”

Sponsor “concern”

Several high-profile FIFA sponsors have spoken out in the wake of the arrests.

The names include Visa, Adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, the Hyundai motor company and Anheuser-Busch InBev, whose Budweiser brand is a major sponsor.

Here’s what the sponsors said:

Visa issued a strongly worded statement saying:

“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 became a sponsor of FIFA because the World Cup is one of the few truly global sporting events with the power to unite people from around the world through a common love of football. Our sponsorship has always focused on supporting the teams, enabling a great fan experience, and inspiring communities to come together and celebrate the spirit of competition and personal achievement – and it is important that FIFA makes changes now, so that the focus remains on these going forward. Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.”

Coca-Cola is less than impressed. Here’s the company’s statement:

“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.”

The Hyundai motor company said:

“As a company that places the highest priority on ethical standards and transparency, Hyundai Motor is extremely concerned about the legal proceedings being taken against certain FIFA executives and will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

McDonald’s said:

“McDonald’s takes matters of ethics and corruption very seriously and the news from the US Department of Justice is extremely concerning. We are in contact with FIFA on this matter. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely.”

Putin gets involved

Meanwhile, Russian president Vladimir Putin, has hit out at the corruption allegations. He said: “It’s another attempt by USA to spread its jurisdiction to other states … to prevent Mr Blatter to be re-elected as president.”

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