25 Jul 2015

Fifa admits scandal puts off new sponsors

6:59 am on 25 July 2015

Fifa has admitted the corruption scandal is putting off new World Cup sponsors and plans to hold a summit with existing backers in August.

Secretary-general Jerome Valcke said: "The current situation doesn't help to finalise any new agreements."

Fifa's recent scandals are deterring sponsors it says.

Fifa's recent scandals are deterring sponsors it says. Photo: AFP

Earlier, key sponsor Visa lambasted Fifa for a "lack of awareness" of the seriousness of corruption charges.

This week, Fifa said it would set up an 11-strong taskforce to examine the issue of corruption.

The August meeting was first suggested by major sponsors, Mr Valcke said.

"Clearly, there were a number of sponsors, mainly three, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Visa, who... sent a letter to Fifa, asking for information," he said.

"Two or three days ago we received a letter from all of them offering to meet together, so there will there will be a meeting next month."

Visa chief executive Charlie Scharf on Thursday expressed his concern over the situation, telling investors his payments company sought partnerships with those "who think and act like us".

He said it tried to hold the highest standards, but did not believe Fifa was living up to those.

Visa has been one of the most critical of Fifa's top sponsors. Nevertheless, such public plain talking is rare.

Coca-Cola and McDonald's have also been vocal about their concerns.

Fifa's other key sponsors include Budweiser and Adidas.

Top Fifa officials were arrested earlier this year on charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering as part of a US prosecution that also indicted 14 people.

It sparked the resignation of its president, Sepp Blatter, who announced he intended to leave next year.

Mr Scharf expressed a lack of confidence in Fifa's ability to reform, saying "no meaningful reform can be achieved under the current leadership", although he stopped short of asking anyone to resign.

He is calling for an independent commission to be set up to plan for reform. Eleven days ago Coca-Cola also called for such a body to be set up.

Lobby groups backed Mr Scharf's comments.

Transparency International (TI), NewFIFANow and the International Trade Union Confederation all applauded Visa for its stance.

"Coca Cola and Visa have rightly recognised the depth of the corruption crisis facing Fifa," said TI's Neil Martinson.

Mr Scharf's full remarks are: "We view the stewardship of our company, our brand, 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. Furthermore, their subsequent responses are wholly inadequate and continue to show its lack of awareness of the seriousness of the changes which are needed.

"To this end, we believe two things need to happen to ensure credible reform. 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.

"Football itself is a great sport with which we are proud to be associated. We want to be proud to be associated with Fifa and hope and look forward to working with them to that end."