For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Fifa scandal: the sponsors awaken

Football's governing body?
Is there corruption at the highest levels of the sport which most of the world (i.e. almost everywhere except the USA) calls football?  You may as well ask, do dogs have fleas? This member of the IPKat team has long assumed that there is, his impressions being based only on the evidence in the media of the increasingly bizarre behaviour, statements and decisions of its leaders, culminating in the extraordinary and nearly universally criticised (i.e. almost everywhere except in Qatar) decision to host the 2022 World Cup tournament in Qatar.

This is a year of change.  Dictators have tumbled in Egypt and the Ivory Coast; Colonel Gaddafi's regime totters in Libya. Football's governing body Fifa stumbles from crisis of credibility to crisis of incredibility, yet Sepp Blatter appears as unshiftable as ever.  Surprisingly it has taken until now for the businesses that pour vast sums of money into Fifa's pockets to express any concern over the ongoing soap opera which is Fifa today.  According to today's report from the BBC,
"Sponsors associated with Fifa have expressed concern at the damage allegations of corruption are causing world football's governing body. Coca-Cola and Adidas [two of the world's biggest brands, notes Merpel, which have achieved status through an association with all that is supposedly clean, healthy and decent] have voiced worries over the controversy, despite Fifa president Sepp Blatter stating that the organisation is not in crisis.

But a Coca-Cola spokesperson said: "The current allegations being raised are distressing and bad for the sport."

Fellow sponsors Visa and Emirates are keeping a distance from the row [the position of popular airline Emirates is as sticky as a footballer playing in temperatures of 40-50 degrees, notes Merpel, since Qatar is an emirate ...].

Blatter is expected to be re-elected to his post unopposed after his only rival candidate in Mohamed Bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), withdrew from the race to govern Fifa.

In the lead up to the 1 June vote [that's tomorrow], which there have been calls to postpone, Bin Hammam has been provisionally suspended by Fifa's ethics committee over allegations that financial incentives were offered to Caribbean Football Union members. Concacaf president Jack Warner, whose Fifa association governs the region of North, Central American and Caribbean football, has also been provisionally suspended.

The world awaits a truthful explanation. But will it come out?
And, in a progression of claim and counter-claim, Bin Hammam has appealed his ban, while Warner has revealed an e-mail sent to him from Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke suggesting Bin Hammam had "bought" the 2022 World Cup final for Qatar.

Although Valcke has moved to clarify his remarks in the e-mail, the developments will have fuelled bribery claims over the bidding process to host the 2022 World Cup tournament, which will be held in Qatar. ...

"We have every expectation that Fifa will resolve this situation in an expedient and thorough manner," added the Coca-Cola spokesperson [Drafted by the Department of Wishful Thinking?]. An Adidas spokesman said: "Adidas enjoys a long-term, close and successful partnership with Fifa that we are looking forward to continuing. Adidas will be an official sponsor of Fifa World Cup 2014 in Brazil [an event which seems to have been eclipsed by recent news, and which does not, to this Kat's recollection, seem to have attracted any accusations]. Having said that, the negative tenor of the public debate around Fifa at the moment is neither good for football nor for Fifa and its partners"."
The IPKat personally doubts whether the scandal at the top end of Fifa will tarnish the reputation of any of the sponsors. This is because World Cup is an extremely popular event which generates so much goodwill that probably even Fifa can't destroy it. He also doubts that it would be worthwhile for the sponsors to withdraw -- even if their contracts so provided -- for the same reason: the saturation coverage to which they are entitled can't be conveniently obtained elsewhere at any price and there would be no shortage of substitute sponsors. He is however pleased to see the sponsors express some concern at the conduct of the miserable, humourless and heavy-handed bunch which has ruled the Beautiful Game for far too long.

Earlier BBC documentary on Fifa corruption here
Fifa versus Kulula Airlines here
The Bundesgerichtshof brushes off Fifa's attempts to monopolise descriptive terms as World Cup trade marks here
OHIM brushes off Fifa's attempts to monopolise descriptive terms as World Cup trade marks here 

2 comments:

Inez & Gus Bodur said...

I wonder how the owners of the Ballon D'or are feeling since joining up with FIFA at the end of the World Cup?

Anonymous said...

Corruption on different levels is rife in all walks of society including those of the UK and our major institutions. FIFA exists to promote the sport and make money for the sport and the people involved in it. They could just open the world cup to the highest bidder in the same way sponsorship and other business works. When the UK gets its own house in order it can be in a better position to criticise. After all, does the UKs public institutions and professions (civil service, universities, armed forces, banks, law firms etc) employ people based mainly on ability or simple nepitism? Jobs for the boys (or girls) is rife in the UK and such protectionism leads to second class, over-priced, unsuccessful services. Look to Europe for the benefits of a meritocracy.

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