KEIR RADNEDGE in ST PETERSBURG: FIFA is to stage a sponsors summit next month to seek to reassure its commercial partners that the lessons of the corruption scandal are being tackled.

This week three of the world federation’s top-rank World Cup backers have expressed their concerns at a perceived failure by president Sepp Blatter and his executive committee to confront the toxic nature of the FIFA ‘brand.’

Cashing in . . . for the 2018 World Cup

In May 14 senior football officials, including two FIFA vice-presidents, were indicted by the United States Department of Justice on corruption and money-laundering charges.

The threat of ongoing investigations have forced Blatter to stay safely home in Switzerland, apart from this weekend’s flying visit to Russia for the 2018 World Cup draw.

Confirmation of a face-to-face with the sponsors was delivered by FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke at a news conference summoned to discuss details of the dates and scheduling of the Russian hosting of the 2017 Confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup.


Valcke conceded that FIFA’s current headline woes meant no new sponsor contract signings were likely until after the current governance uncertainty comes to an end with the election of a new president on February 26.

Outlining the exchanges with sponsors and the route ahead, Valcke said: “There were three sponsors – Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa – expressing [their concerns] in a letter to FIFA. We sent all the commercial partners, not only these three, the details of all that has happened since the first reform process was started and all that has been changed in the administration of FIFA.

“Two or three days ago we received a letter from all of them offering to meet all together so there will be a meeting in august between all the commercial partners and FIFA, not only the marketing department but also the legal department to reassure [them] that the additional reform process should be, and has to be, [undertaken] through an independent body.

“That was discussed between the confederations presidents with Blatter and there will be more information about this task force in the next weeks.”

Telling influence

This all meant that sponsorship progress had virtually frozen which will delight critics who have demanded that FIFA partners use their influence to press the world federation for meaningful reform.

Valcke conceded: “The current situation doesn’t help to finalise any new agreement and until the next election in February there will be not a major announcement.

“Maybe there are some ongoing negotiations with two major companies around the world to reach the first level of FIFA sponsorship. I don’t know if it will be announced before the election.

“Is this too late? Not as long as we reach agreements in the first part of 2016, which is more than a year before the Confederations Cup, for sponsors to activate their programmes.”

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