ZURICH: Senior FIFA officials are expected to meet sponsors’ representatives in Zurich on Thursday to reassure the world federation’s commercial partners about a commitment to reform writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The unwinding scandals of the last five years has prompted major World Cup sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Visa, McDonald’s and Adidas to express their concerns about the running of the world body out of fear of association with a catalogue of financial misuse.

At the World Cup draw in St Petersburg last month FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke said that FIFA had invited all its commercial partners to a Zurich summit in the wake of recent events .

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.”

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 president Sepp Blatter to stay safely home in Switzerland, apart from the one flying visit to Russia for the World Cup draw.

Valcke had also 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.

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