Adidas became the first FIFA sponsor to express dismay over the football governing body's latest scandal, involving a number of arrests. It's still unclear whether the latest developments may impact any contracts.
Seeing soccer's world governing body FIFA being plunged into turmoil once again after US and Swiss authorities announced inquiries and made arrests, one of the organization's long-term sponsoring partners, Adidas, expressed shock at the latest allegations of bribery to secure the 2022 World Cup for Qatar.
"We can only encourage FIFA to continue to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do," the German sportswear giant said in a statement.
"The Adidas Group is fully committed to creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics and compliance, and we expect the same from our partners," Adidas added.
World Cup sponsor McDonald's said on Wednesday that it found the US Department of Justice's indictment of senior officials at FIFA "extremely concerning."
No immediate comment was made by FIFA's other long-term partners, including Coca-Cola, Hyundai and Visa.
FIFA under pressure
As early as last June, Adidas, Coca-Cola and others had demanded that officials at FIFA deal thoroughly with allegations of bribery.
Towards the end of 2014, some second-tier World Cup sponsors opted not to renew their sponsorship contracts for the 2018 tournament in Russia amid widespread allegations of corruption implicating FIFA executive committee members. Castrol, Continental and Johnson & Johnson all let their commercial deals expire in December last year.
But at the time, FIFA Marketing Director Thierry Weil said their leaving was normal. "Rotations at the end of a sponsorship cycle are commonplace in the sports industry," he commented.
Sony and Emirates had also stopped their deals with FIFA in late 2014, citing strategic corporate considerations. But rumors spread like wildfire that the companies in question had called it quits because of FIFA's ethical standards.
hg/sri (Reuters, AP)