Emirates wants FIFA changes before new sponsorship

Emirates wants evidence FIFA is seriously delivering on moves to
eradicate corruption and that the scandal-hit organization’s public
image is improving before renewing its sponsorship, an airline
executive said on Friday.

The Dubai-based carrier’s $195 million, eight-year sponsorship
of world football’s governing body expires in 2014.

Emirates senior vice president Boutros Boutros said the airline
has yet to see enough progress since FIFA President Sepp Blatter
instigated a reform drive to prevent a repeat of scandals that have
damaged the credibility of the organization in recent years.

”So far they talk a lot about them, but we are yet to see. I am
like you,” Emirates senior vice president Boutros Boutros said.
”They look serious about it and we are optimistic. We hope they
will work on it and do what the public want … we are waiting
until after 2014 to evaluate.”

Asked if Emirates will ensure FIFA is no longer seen to be a
tainted organization before agreeing on a new deal, Boutros
responded: ”Definitely.”

”Our research is to see how people perceive our brand – how
they perceive our relationship with them, how they look at it,”
Boutros said at Arsenal’s ground in London after Emirates signed a
$240 million sponsorship extension with the Premier League
club.

FIFA’s reputation was rocked by claims of bribery and
vote-rigging that marred the presidential election campaign last
year, and the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests which were
voted on in December 2010.

”Blatter is working on cleaning the image of FIFA – they had
unfortunate events and incidents and issues,” Boutros said. ”In
one way, I am glad they were courageous enough to talk about it and
discuss it. And they were courageous enough to announce they were
taking measures.

”I am yet to see the outcome of these measures and we are
waiting and watching.”

Mark Pieth, one of Blatter’s anti-corruption advisers, said this
year that ”older” elected officials were resisting the reform
proposals and moves to dilute their power at FIFA.

A panel headed by Pieth has begun preparing a second round of
reform proposals that FIFA members will vote on next May.

Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris