31 May 2011

Fifa: sponsors, the FA and media put pressure on Blatter

As big-name sponsors express “distress” at corruption allegations in football, former candidate for FIFA’s presidency Mohammed bin Hammam tells Channel 4 News “nobody can claim anything” against him.

Coca-Cola and Adidas, two of the official corporate sponsors of FIFA, have expressed “distress” over corruption allegations, sending an ominous financial message to the crisis-hit home of football in Zurich.

Despite not issuing any warnings over the future of their commercial partnerships, both Coca Cola and Adidas offered damaging statements that if the allegations are not investigated properly then it could mean the end to the multi-million pound deals.

A Coca-Cola spokesperson said: “The current allegations being raised are distressing and bad for the sport. We have every expectation that FIFA will resolve this

FIFA President Sepp Blatter. (Reuters)

situation in an expedient and thorough manner.”

Nobody can claim anything [against me]. Mohammed bin Hammam

A sterner statement came from an Adidas spokesperson: “The negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners.”

Adidas signed a $315million seven-year-deal in 2007, covering the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, whilst Coca Cola are in a $500million deal – both deals that are part of a sizeable sponsorship that contributes a huge chunk of FIFA revenue.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter declared “Crisis? What is a crisis?” in a press conference on Sunday, revealing his determination to stay in football’s top job.

Bin Hammam: ‘Nobody can claim anything’

FA Chairman David Bernstein has urged FIFA to delay its presidential election. The FA has already decided to abstain from the vote on the grounds of the continuing investigations and a lack of transparency within the organisation.

Mohammed bin Hammam, of Qatar, stepped out of the running on 29 May after being accused of offering bribery for votes.

Speaking to Channel 4 News correspondent Andy Davies, in Zurich, Mr bin Hammam said he was talking to his lawyer about the current situation.

Smiling throughout the brief conversaton, he added: “Nobody can claim anything [against me].

But his exit from the contest means Sepp Blatter is the only candidate for the position. The FA wants the process to be delayed to allow other prospective leaders to come forward.

David Bernstein said: “Events of the last few days have reinforced our views, and we call on FIFA and ask other national associations to support us with two initiatives.

“First, to postpone the election and give credibility to this process, so any alternative reforming candidate could have the opportunity to stand for president.

“Secondly, to appoint a genuinely independent external party to make recommendations regarding improved governance and compliance procedures and structures throughout the FIFA decision-making processes for consideration by the full membership.”

The Scottish FA has also called for FIFA to delay the vote: “We believe the election should be rescheduled to facilitate a period of consultation to deal with the issues that have arisen in recent weeks… The events of the last two days, in particular, have made any election unworkable.”