Corporate sponsors of the World Cup are on high alert after US prosecutors have accused officials from football’s governing body of racketeering, fraud and money laundering.
Among the 14 defendants named in the corruption probe are two sports marketing agencies, alleged to have paid more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights.
These sports marketing companies, in turn, sell those rights downstream to TV and radio broadcast networks, major corporate sponsors and other entities for significant sums of money.
Some of these sponsors include Coca-Cola, adidas, McDonald’s and Visa, which recently extended its partnership with FIFA until 2022.
While a some sponsors have issued statements, none are yet to withdraw their deals as a result of the investigations.
Coca-Cola, however, said the controversy had tarnished the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup.
“We have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations,” the company’s statement said.
“We expect FIFA to continue to address these issues thoroughly. FIFA has stated that it is responding to all requests for information and we are confident it will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities.
Adidas, a FIFA sponsor for the past 45 years, said it was watching the probe closely.
“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,” the statement said.
“Following today’s news, we can therefore only encourage FIFA to continue to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do.”