FIFA Sponsors React To Corruption Charges On Eve Of Election
On the eve of FIFA President Sepp Blatter's unopposed reelection to a fourth term, sponsors are "putting pressure" on FIFA "to undertake reforms in the wake of a wave of corruption allegations." adidas, Coca-Cola, Emirates Group, Visa and Continental AG have issued statements in the wake of the controversy, while Hyundai, Sony, Oi and Seara declined to comment. A-B, Castrol, and McDonald's could not be reached for comment (REUTERS, 5/31). FIFA is "embroiled in two embarrassing bribery scandals: one regarding its presidential election, the other involving the awarding last fall of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 Wolrd Cup to Qatar" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/31). CONCACAF President Jack Warner and Mohammad Bin Hammam, who would have opposed Blatter for election, have been suspended on bribery allegations. Warner yesterday released an e-mail in which FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke "stated that Qatar had 'bought'" the '22 event (L.A. TIMES, 5/31).
Blatter during a press conference yesterday was in a "combative mood, berating media for their lack of manners and giving Qatar his public backing." Blatter: "Football is not in a crisis. ... Adidas has a very long and successful partnership with FIFA, which we are also looking forward to continue. Having said that, the negative tonality of the public debate surrounding FIFA is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners" (REUTERS, 5/31).
The GUARDIAN's Matt Scott writes while some of the criticisms from sponsors "may seem lightweight, they are a significant departure from the usual steadfast support FIFA sponsors demonstrate." The WASHINGTON TIMES' John Haydon writes this "could be a watershed moment for FIFA. The organization is facing the kind of scrutiny that brought changes to the [IOC] following the Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games bribery scandal."