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FIFA sponsors will not walk away, claims expert

The corruption scandal engulfing FIFA will not affect the long-term relationship between football’s leading governing body and its major sponsors, according to a sports sponsorship expert.

Last week, 14 people – including nine past and present FIFA officials – were indicted by the United States Department of Justice on charges of racketeering, conspiracy and corruption.

One of global football’s major sponsors, VISA, responded to that news last week with a statement calling on FIFA “to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organisation”, while adding “should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.”

Sepp Blatter was elected to a fifth term as FIFA president last week, but resigned his post amid the controversy in a hastily arranged news conference in Zurich on Tuesday.

And Matthew Glendinning – Editor of Sports Sponsorship Insider – believes the lure of being associated with the World Cup will keep sponsors on board.

“I don’t think they [sponsors] will continue to feel tarnished by association. Most have come out with some sort of distancing press release and now Blatter has gone, they will call for FIFA to clean up its act,” he told Perform.

“People know why they sponsor FIFA. They’re sponsoring FIFA but they’re really sponsoring the World Cup.

“They don’t have an allegiance to a football governing body, they’re sponsoring the World Cup.”

Coca-Cola reacted to Blatter’s resignation saying the move “will help FIFA transform itself rapidly into a much-needed 21st Century structure and institution”.

Glendinning anticipates that stance will also be taken by several others.

“The existing partners, some of them, have already stated their position,” he added. “It’s not just that they want Blatter to go, they want the organisation to change.

“There’s no point there being change at the top if the organisation doesn’t change. There’s the opportunity for [potential] corruption to be cut short by a new constitution in FIFA or other ways that will inhibit its members from making money for themselves.

“Blatter leaving is not the end of the story for the sponsors, they have to make sure the next guy that comes in is presiding over a clean organisation.”

Wed 3 Jun, 2015
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