KEIR RADNEDGE in ST PETERSBURG: Visa has become the latest World Cup sponsor to attack FIFA for its “wholly inadequate” response to the corruption scandal driving Sepp Blatter from the presidency.
Blatter is seeking to resurrect the stalled reform process but critics view his proposals as mere window-dressing without depth or significant substance. He has also been criticised for seeking to dictate terms to his presidential successor.
Coca-Cola – most powerful of FIFA’s sponsors – and McDonald’s have aligned themselves with pressures groups such as international trades unions and Amnesty International in calling for an independent outside personality or authority to lead meaningful reform.
Visa was brought aggressively into line by its ceo Charles Scharf, during a quarterly conference call set up to discuss the corporation’s quarterly earnings.
He described FIFA’s response to the corruption scandal as “wholly inadequate and continuing to show its lack of awareness of the seriousness of the changes which are needed.”
Scharf said: “We view the stewardship of our company, our brands and our clients with the utmost importance and try to hold ourselves to the highest standards. We seek to partner with those who think and act like us. I don’t believe that FIFA is living up to these standards.
“First, an independent, third-party commission led by one or more impartial leaders is critical to formulate reforms. Second, we believe no meaningful reform can be made under FIFA’s existing leadership.”
FIFA’s governance was brought into disrepute during the run-up to the 2018-2022 World Cup hosting votes in December 2010, continued through a bribery scandal ahead of the 2011 presidential election and exploded in May with United States Justice Department indictments against 14 senior football figures including two FIFA vice-presidents.
A series of worldwide arrests have sparked a subsequent string of extradition applications against men who had been among the most powerful in football, particularly in the Americas.
On Thursday the Paraguayan authorities confirmed receipt of an extradition application for Nicolas Leoz, veteran former president of the South American confederation CONMEBOL.