Two World Cup sponsors, Coca Cola and Budweiser launched activation events in Brazil on Monday and joined Adidas, Sony and Visa in demanding FIFA deal effectively with the corruption allegations swirling around Qatar’s World Cup bid.
Sony was the first of FIFA’s six top-tier World Cup sponsors to break its silence on the bribery claims published last week and on Sunday by Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper, calling for the allegations to be “investigated appropriately”.
We continue to expect FIFA to adhere to its principles of integrity ethics and fair play across all aspects of its operations, the Sony statement added.
Coca-Cola waded into the debate over the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar, piling the pressure on FIFA and its president Sepp Blatter to fully investigate fresh allegations made by the newspaper.
Its chief investigator Michael Garcia has not examined them in his 18-month probe of the nine 2018/2022 World Cup bids, which concludes this week.
“Anything that detracts from the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup is a concern to us,” the drinks giant said in a statement.
“But we are confident that FIFA is taking these allegations very seriously and is investigating them thoroughly through the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee.
“The FIFA World Cup is a platform that unites people all over the world, inspiring and celebrating the world's most popular sport while creating memorable experiences for athletes and fans. We believe that through our partnership and continued involvement with FIFA we can help foster optimism and unity, while making a positive difference in the communities we serve.”
World Cup sponsors, who contributed more than 400 million to FIFA’s 1.4 billion dollars profits in 2013, rarely comment on such sensitive issues for fear of attaching their names to controversy.
On Sunday the most significant sponsor comment about the allegations came from long-term partner Adidas, who last November renewed its partnership dating back to 1970 until 2030.
The negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners,” the German sportswear company said in a statement, precisely the same words used in a statement following the FIFA presidential scandal in May 2011.
The World Cup ball supplier said it was confident that the matter is being dealt with as a priority, adding that it enjoyed “a long-term and successful partnership with FIFA that we are looking forward to continue”.
Visa, which in January extended its World Cup sponsorship through the 2022 World Cup, said in a statement: Our expectation remains that all of our partners maintain strong ethical standards and operate with transparency.
The statements issued on Sunday by all top-tier sponsors except Emirates and Hyundai/Kia echo what happened in May 2011, in the aftermath of the corruption-hit FIFA presidential race. Qatari’s FIFA vice-president Mohamed Bin Hammam, the former Asian football boss whose name is back in the headlines, was suspended in a cash-for-votes scandal, with Coca-Cola and Adidas expressing “distress” over the corruption allegations.