Sponsors meet Fifa to press for 'robust' reform

ZURICH • Football's governing body Fifa met five of its major sponsors on Thursday as it tries to regain credibility following a corruption scandal that has led to the worst crisis in its 111-year history.

"Fifa met its commercial affiliates AB InBev, adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Visa at the home of Fifa to discuss current matters," the Zurich-based organisation said in a statement.

After saying very little as allegations of wrongdoing against Fifa officials mounted in recent years, some sponsors, notably Visa and Coca-Cola, Fifa's oldest sponsor, criticised the organisation following the May arrest of senior Fifa executives on corruption charges.

The sponsors issued a statement following the meeting, saying: "We reiterated our expectations for robust reform, and we will continue to engage with Fifa."

Fifa made US$5.7 billion (S$8 billion) for the four years through 2014, according to its latest financial report. Its marketing contracts represented 29 per cent of the total, the second-highest component after broadcast contracts.

Fifa says it is in the process of restructuring parts of the organisation, notably its scandal-tainted executive board.

Nine former and current officials were named in a US indictment that alleges more than two decades of corrupt practices. Swiss police acting on US extradition requests arrested seven officials in May.

Coke and Visa subsequently wanted an independent body to lead Fifa's reforms.

Fifa has instead created an internal body, which is being led by former International Olympic Committee director-general Francois Carrard. He will be assisted by representatives nominated from football's six confederations and two officials chosen by sponsors.

The first meeting is scheduled for Sept 3 in the Swiss capital, Bern.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2015, with the headline 'Sponsors meet Fifa to press for 'robust' reform'. Print Edition | Subscribe