Newspaper article International New York Times

For Sponsors, No Easy Response on FIFA

Newspaper article International New York Times

For Sponsors, No Easy Response on FIFA

Article excerpt

World Cup sponsors showed predictable caution in responding to the Department of Justice's indictment of nine FIFA officials on corruption charges.

World Cup sponsors demonstrated various levels of caution in their responses this week to the United States Justice Department's indictment of nine FIFA officials on corruption charges.

The sponsors did not threaten to drop their deals, but Visa, the most indignant, said that it would "reassess our sponsorship" if FIFA did not change its ways.

The sponsors did not criticize any of the individuals indicted. They did not mention Sepp Blatter, the powerful president of FIFA, who was not charged. Instead, they focused largely on broad, nonspecific concerns about ethics and the allegations, with little elaboration.

But Visa's statement stood out among the sponsors who made comments.

"Our disappointment and concern with FIFA in light of today's developments is profound," the company said Wednesday. "As a sponsor we expect FIFA to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organization."

Coca-Cola said: "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."

McDonald's said that it "takes matters of ethics and corruption very seriously," and Adidas said it was "fully committed to creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics and compliance."

Adidas added, "We expect the same from our partners."

Jim Andrews, a senior vice president of IEG, a sponsorship research and valuation firm, said that sponsors who were otherwise satisfied with their association with the World Cup as an event would be pressured to dissociate themselves from FIFA, which has been the subject of corruption allegations for years. …

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