FIFA, sponsors talk in secret over corruption crisis

"No further comment will be made on the internal discussions between the parties," FIFA said in a terse, three-paragraph statement.

August 21, 2015 01:11 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:35 pm IST - Zurich

FIFA has met with some World Cup sponsors in a meeting they demanded after a corruption crisis rocked football’s governing body.

Little detail was revealed after the closed-door session on Thursday, shrouded in secrecy at FIFA headquarters and attended by Adidas, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa.

“No further comment will be made on the internal discussions between the parties,” FIFA said in a terse, three-paragraph statement.

Still, FIFA said it had “reaffirmed its commitment to transparency, reform, and collaboration with its valued partners.”

The five sponsors issued a joint statement of just two paragraphs.

“FIFA provided the sponsors with updates on several topics,” it noted. “During this meeting, we reiterated our expectations for robust reform, and we will continue to engage with FIFA.”

Gazprom and Hyundai were absent without a reason given by FIFA or the sponsors. No mention was made on Thursday of appointing two sponsor representatives scheduled to join a FIFA-appointed reforms committee.

The reforms panel, chaired by former IOC director general Francois Carrard, first meets Sept. 2—3 in Bern, Switzerland, FIFA said earlier on Thursday.

Long-standing sponsors typically slow to criticize FIFA have spoken out since American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption were revealed in May.

Six current or former FIFA executive committee members were indicted or had guilty pleas unsealed by the U.S. Justice Department which is investigating bribery, fraud and racketeering in the allocation of broadcasting rights and tournament hosts.

The case prompted FIFA President Sepp Blatter, a target of U.S. prosecutors, to announce he would leave within months and try to reform the scandal-plagued organization.

However, Visa said last month it doubted that “meaningful progress can be made under FIFA’s existing leadership.”

Current sponsors fill only seven of 34 available slots FIFA has allocated for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

FIFA has a revenue target of around $6 billion in the four-year commercial cycle tied to the tournament, but has failed to sign any new deals since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

No major deals are likely to be signed before the election to replace Blatter is held on Feb. 26, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said last month.

FIFA corruption scam

>FIFA says corruption crisis hinders search for new sponsors

Targeting almost $6 billion in revenue from the 2018 tournament, FIFA has not signed any new sponsors.

>Michel Platini confirms he will run for FIFA president

Platini wrote to member federations saying he will stand in the election and is counting on their support.

>FIFA presidential election to be held on Feb. 26

Potential contenders include UEFA president Michel Platini and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, who lost to Blatter in May.

>FIFA should turn the page

The deeply entrenched quid pro quo system with the development funding route turning into a tool to buy votes and thereby creating divisions within the footballing fraternity.

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