What a day!! My Tweeter feed was going crazy about the raid and arrest of FIFA officials for bribery and corruption allegation. I scanned the web to find out how FIFA sponsors would react and ultimately, what would their actions be. This is what they said.
I often talk about how difficult it must be to be a FIFA sponsor. One one hand, you are involved in the global sports with great prospect of ROI. On the other hand, you deal with an organisation (FIFA) that has been stained with corruption allegations for decades.
Some FIFA sponsors/partners have been ballsy and pulled the plug. Sony, Continental, Castrol, Johnson & Johnson, and Emirates recently decided not to extend their partnership with FIFA for different reasons, but it would be naive to believe that FIFA constant turmoil was not a decisive factor.
Some FIFA official partners (adidas, VISA, Coca-Cola, Mc Donalds, Hyundai, Budweiser and Gazprom) have issued a statement, others have not (yet).
adidas told Business Insider: “The Adidas Group is fully committed to creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics and compliance, and we expect the same from our partners.
“Following today’s news, we can therefore only encourage Fifa to continue to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do. Adidas is the world’s leading football brand and we will continue to support football on all levels.”
Meanwhile, Budweiser told Reuters: “We expect all of our partners to maintain strong ethical standards and operate with transparency.”
And finally, McDonald’s also commented on the situation: “McDonald’s takes matters of ethics and corruption very seriously and the news from the US Department of Justice is extremely concerning. We are in contact with FIFA on this matter. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely.”
and that’s it….
Although Coke has not issued a statement yet (I may have missed it, like I said, my Tweeter feed was going mad…) the Atlanta firm said back in June:
“Anything that detracts from the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup is a concern to us. 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.”
Gazprom, Visa, Budweiser have not spoken out yet.
Bottom line is sponsors walk (again) on thin ice, and the question is “when will they be fed up to wait until the ice breaks and start walking on firm ground?”. Some will say easier said than done, but at the end of the day, why would you want to keep on hanging out with a beautiful rich girl who happens to be a serial killer?
It’s time for sponsors but also Football Federations, Medias and others to send, not just a press release but a clear signal to change things.