27 May 2015

Fifa arrests: why they’ll worry big corporations

Fifa is a company with a $2bn-a-year turnover. That’s big, but not massive… until you realise all it does is sell TV rights to World Cup matches, hospitality rights, and marketing rights.

It sits at the centre of a football economy worth $30bn a year – the biggest segment of the global sports industry by far.

When US prosecutors say Fifa’s execs have “corrupted global football”, that will ring alarm bells in every global brand associated with football.

Because the investigations focus on the sports marketing part of Fifa.

When you see a billboard or a logo behind a player in an interview – that’s been sold.

For truly global brands – like Adidas, Coke and Visa – the big global sporting events are critical for keeping their brands truly global. The World Cup is almost the only event after the Olympics with true global appeal.

They deal with FIFA through middlemen – sports marketing companies – and it is these middlemen who are alleged to have bribed FIFA officials, or participated in a system where bribery was normal for more than two decades. One, Jose Hawilla, has pleaded guilty and paid the US government $151m.

There is no suggestion that any of the sponsors have been involved in criminal activity.

But the ultimate source of all the money flowing through football was TV companies and global brand names. Last June Adidas, Sony, Visa and Coca Cola called on Fifa to investigate bribery allegations around the Qatari bid for the World Cup.

Adidas today called on Fifa to “continue to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do”.

The arrests are new. The allegations are not. The question that hangs over these proceedings now: what really happened in the 25 years during which the US DoJ alleges corruption was “rampant, systemic and deep rooted”?

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8 reader comments

  1. Alan says:

    To use the DOJ’s own language ‘Too big to fail’

  2. Andrew Dundas says:

    The overwhelming majority of electors in FIFA are poor countries whose own FIFA chiefs gain huge status and privileges from the distribution of the ‘big corporations’ budgets. The team that got them that development income is led by Sepp Blatter. He it was who made the World Cup into a wonderful money-spinner that enables FIFA to promote and develop football in poorer countries. Is it any surprise that those many beneficiaries support his repeated election?
    Any successor to Sepp Blatter is likely to continue the policy of using the ‘big corporations’ budgets to support football in under-developed countries. A successor will attract their support for doing so. Which might seduce his successor too.
    Isn’t all that the root of the problem with FIFA?

  3. Philip Edwards says:

    Oh I wouldn’t shed crocodile tears if I were a far right neocon like you.

    The world according to Coca Cola, Adidas and MacDonalds is already with us. So are poverty wages and environmental destruction.

    But don’t let that disturb your propaganda.

    1. John says:

      @ Philip Edwards – Yet another of your bizarre comments.
      – Who exactly is the far-right neocon, shedding crocodile tears?

      If you’re going to post a comment – make it somewhat more conclusive, and let us know what on earth you’re on about (and who).

      1. prav says:

        Another example of exploiting the system from the top

  4. michael todaro says:

    much of the money, perhaps more than half, enriches the bureaucrats and politicians of the so called underdeveloped countries. why do you think they are underdeveloped despite massive natural resources (e.g. Nigeria) and foreign direct investment?
    African leaders and offspring drive exotic cars while people are literally dirt poor.
    Why Ebola?
    The 1% just don’t care

  5. John Hill says:

    If the FBI begin to investigate US FIRMS which have backed FIFA, it will get very interesting, as the USA is very protective of its Currency with Federal Laws to back up the FBI etc.
    If I were a Sponsor of FIFA, I would ask for my sponsorship cash back. Then what will the FIFA executives do??
    Have another meeting I suppose!!
    How about a news article on the Hitlerite Muslim Fascists in N Africa Channel 4??

    1. kayode says:

      We need to take a tough stance on this.

Comments are closed.