Emirates wants FIFA changes before new sponsorship

Emirates airlines wants evidence FIFA is eradicating corruption
and the scandal-hit organization’s public image is improving before
renewing its sponsorship.

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

Emirates senior vice president Boutros Boutros said Friday 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,”
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 perceived 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 in the presidential election campaign last year and
the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests 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