VISA Reassessing FIFA Sponsorship
CBJ – In the wake of the latest scandal to hit soccer’s World Cup governing body, Visa Inc. plans to reassess its sponsorship of FIFA, saying reforms must be swift and significant for the relationship to continue on into the future.
“Our disappointment and concern with FIFA in light of the latest developments is profound,” Visa said in a statement after 14 FIFA officials were indicted earlier in the day. “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 joins a growing list of companies pressuring FIFA after authorities outlined years of alleged corruption at the organization. According to the U.S. Justice Department, FIFA officials received bribes and kickbacks that were meant to influence the awarding of media and marketing rights, along with the choice of the host country for the 2010 World Cup.
Visa, the world’s biggest bank-card network, last year extended its deal with FIFA to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 event in Qatar. The firm was among five marketing partners for the 2018 tournament listed on Zurich-based FIFA’s website. Wednesday’s statement isn’t the first time the Foster City, California-based lender has pressed FIFA to act quickly. Qatar currently has no adequate playing field for the World Cup, and temperatures in the country typically reach 50 degrees Celsius – or 122 degrees Fahrenheit, yet it was selected to host the event seven years from now. More than 1,200 workers have already died – many from heat exhaustion and over-exertion in the extreme heat.
Visa issued a similarly-worded statement in November, when it told FIFA to “act accordingly and take swift action” after criticism of bidding for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. In May 2011, Visa asked FIFA to “take all necessary steps to resolve the concerns that have been raised” amid a corruption scandal at FIFA.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has drawn huge criticism for alleged corruption, but claims he is not to blame saying that it is impossible for him to monitor everyone. There are now growing calls for the 79-year-old to resign. Critics say he is the one orchestrating much of the widespread corruption, but until there is hard evidence to prove that theory, he remains in charge.