Coca Cola said it is concerned about how FIFA is handling its investigation into corruption allegations involving winning bids by Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Coke’s sponsorship deal is worth $475 million.
A Coca Cola spokesperson said: “Anything that detracts from the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup is a concern to us. The current conflicting perspectives regarding the investigation are disappointing. Our expectation is that this will be resolved quickly in a transparent and efficient manner.”
So far only a summary (pdf) of FIFA’s internal investigation report has been made public.
The head of FIFA’s ethics committee, Michael Garcia, distanced himself from the summary and said it misrepresented his investigation.
The English, Dutch, German, Swedish, Belgian, and Danish football federations have all demanded that the full report be published.
McDonald’s and Adidas, two other big sponsors, also expressed concerns about the allegations.
McDonald’s said it is “monitoring the situation” and Adidas said it plans to discuss the report directly with FIFA.
Visa has also publicly criticized FIFA for its handling of the investigation, calling for more “forthright communications.” The company’s sponsorship deal is worth nearly $190 million.
Earlier this month, Dubai-based airline Emirates confirmed it was ending its FIFA sponsorship. Sony is reportedly considering withdrawing its World Cup support.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.
By what right does FIFA sponsor the world football championship? Tradition alone does not justify it. It would be great if companies such as Adidas, Coke and McDonalds were to fund an organization that would hold "alternative games."
It is noteworthy that the drafters of the UN Convention Against Corruption could not reach agreement on how to define "corruption." Scholars agree that the issue of corruption is complex. So there needs to be another standard by which a country earns the right to host the games.
Perhaps the observance of internationally-recognized human rights could be the proper standard. Only countries having an excellent human rights record would have the right to compete to be the locale for these new alternative games.
It is now an appropriate time to end FIFA's monopoly over the international football championship and establishing an organization that would supplant FIFA. Fortunately, there is sufficient time to accomplish this (especially if corporations were to financially support the endeavor), at least with respect to the games to be held in Russia. The new entity should be led by persons of indisputable integrity such as the persons who award the Noble Peace Prize.
There are many possible measures to assist the leadership of the new organization. (e.g. http://www.ihrri.com/contry.php and
http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/wr2014_web_0.pdf). Perhaps a combination of several different standards could be used.
In this spirit, Russia has forfeited its right to host such games. Violating international law should also be taken into consideration. (See e.g.
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116819/international-law-russias-ukraine-intervention and http://razomforukraine.org/.
FIFA's decisions shows it is time to bring about change. Peaceful international competition through sport is supposed to be a means to demonstrate the fraternity of mankind and nations?
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