Visa has threatened to “reassess” its sponsorship of FIFA if the governing body does not make changes in the wake of the ongoing corruption scandal.
Fourteen people, including nine FIFA officials, were indicted by the United States Department of Justice on Wednesday for racketeering, conspiracy and corruption.
Seven of those nine officials were arrested in Zurich, while an eighth – former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner – was reported to have spent the night in jail following his arrest in Trinidad and Tobago later in the day.
The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) also confirmed the start of separate proceedings against “persons unknown” following charges filed by FIFA, with the governing body described as “the injured party”.
FIFA has provisionally banned 11 of the defendants involved in the US prosecution from football-related activity and Visa was among a number of major sponsors to voice concern over the saga.
“Our disappointment and concern with FIFA in light of [Wednesday]’s developments is profound,” read a statement from the financial services provider. “As a sponsor, we expect FIFA to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organization.
“This starts with rebuilding a culture with strong ethical practices in order to restore the reputation of the games for fans everywhere.
“Visa became a sponsor of FIFA because the World Cup is one of the few truly global sporting events with the power to unite people from around the world through a common love of football.
“Our sponsorship has always focused on supporting the teams, enabling a great fan experience, and inspiring communities to come together and celebrate the spirit of competition and personal achievement – and it is important that FIFA makes changes now, so that the focus remain on these going forward.
“Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.”
Visa’s statement followed similar messages emerging from Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Hyundai, while Adidas stressed its commitment to “creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics and compliance”.
In addition to the 14 people indicted on Wednesday, five parties, including Warner’s sons Daryll and Daryan and former CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer, had already pleaded guilty to fraudulent activities.
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