By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
The response from FIFA sponsors regarding the FIFA corruption allegations has been rather muted to date. This is quite surprising, since these allegations and a close association with a corrupt body must have tarnished their extremely valuable international brands.
But now, two of FIFA’s major sponsors – COCA-COLA and MCDONALD’S – have spoken out and called for reforms.
COCA-COLA – a commercial partner of FIFA since 1974 – has told FIFA to appoint an independent commission to spearhead the necessary reforms and MCDONALD’S – a FIFA supporter since 1994 – has expressed its agreement with this move.
Their outcries coincide with the holding on 20 July, 2015 of the Extraordinary Meeting of the 24-member FIFA Executive Committee – the governing body of world football – that was called following the surprise resignation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, which he announced on 2 June, 2015.
FIFA’s response to its major sponsors’ calls for reforms has been rather lukewarm. FIFA, whilst “it values the input” from them, rejects their proposals for an independent commission.
In line with the FIFA policy to date, namely, to deal with its problems internally, FIFA has stated that “its goal is to achieve the highest standards of governance and accountability for the international football community.” This attitude recalls Sepp Blatter famous – or infamous – remark: “what corruption in FIFA?!” If any exists, we can deal with it ourselves within the so-called ‘football family’. FIFA continues to be a law unto itself resisting any and all kinds of outside interference or control in its affairs!
However, COCA-COLA maintains that the proposed commission “would be the most credible way for FIFA to …. build back the trust that it has lost.” Few, I think, would disagree with that point of view!
Likewise, as far as MCDONALD’S is concerned: “ .… FIFA’s internal controls and compliance culture are inconsistent with expectations MCDONALD’S has for its business partners throughout the world. FIFA must now implement meaningful changes to restore trust and credibility with fans and sponsors alike. The world expects concrete actions and so does MCDONALD’S.”
A bold – and, indeed, a reasonable – stance from each of these major players, but will it make any difference?
FIFA has announced at its Meeting on 20 July, 2015 that the election of a new FIFA President, to replace Sepp Blatter, will take place in Zurich on 26 February 2016.
In the meantime, several calls from around the world continue to be made for Blatter to step down immediately!
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw is an International Sports Lawyer, Academic and Author and may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.