Unhappy sponsors add to the pressure on Fifa
Emirates joins Coke and Adidas as it expresses its concern over Fifa scandal
Football may not be in crisis according to Sepp Blatter, but the support Fifa enjoys from its sponsors may well be. The airline Emirates became the third major partner to put the pressure on the world's footballing body today, joining Coca-Cola and Adidas in expressing disquiet over the corruption scandal currently swirling around Fifa.
"Emirates, like all football fans around the world, is disappointed with the issues that are currently surrounding the administration of the sport," said the airline. "We hope that these issues will be resolved as soon as possible and the outcome will be in the interest of the game and sport in general."
The statement comes on the eve of Fifa's presidential election – in which incumbent Blatter is the only candidate following the withdrawal of rival Mohamed Bin Hammam after his suspension over bribery allegations - and will be seen as adding support to calls that the vote should be delayed.
Earlier Coke had said "the current allegations being raised are distressing and bad for the sport," though it added "we have every expectation that FIFA will resolve this situation in an expedient and thorough manner."
Adidas, another of Fifa's six main sponsorship partners, said it hoped to continue "a long-term, close and successful partnership with Fifa" and would be a sponsor at the 2014 World Cup. But the sportswear company also appeared to fire a shot across Fifa's bows by adding: "The negative tenor of the public debate around Fifa at the moment is neither good for football nor for Fifa and its partners."
A fourth Fifa partner, Visa, added its voice to the calls for Fifa to address corruption allegations on Tuesday afternoon. "The current situation is clearly not good for the game," it said. "We ask that FIFA take all necessary steps to resolve the concerns that have been raised."
Sponsorship is Fifa's key source of revenue and is largely seen as the driving force behind the body's transformation in the 1970s and 1980s from a relatively small organisation into an institution awash with money. And dissatisfaction among Fifa's sponsors could even have more of an impact on the organisation that anger from within the game it represents.
Commentators believe that the growing clamour among financial backers, combined with the English FA's decision on Tuesday to publicly call for the Fifa presidential election to be delayed, may result in the June 1st vote being moved to a later date.
Fifa has six sponsorship partners in total. While Adidas, Coke, Emirates and Visa have expressed their concerns, Sony has moved to distance itself from the corruption scandal, saying "it is not our intention to be involved in this issue at this point in time." The sixth partner, Hyundai, have said they do not intend to make a statement. ·
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