Sponsor Adidas voices concern over FIFA corruption claims
JUN 08, 2014 9:53a ET
SAO PAULO (AP) In a rare comment on FIFA issues by World Cup sponsors, Adidas said it was concerned about renewed allegations of corruption and Visa called for football's governing body to show strong ethics.
''The negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners,'' the German company said in a statement.
Adidas spoke out following renewed claims of financial wrongdoing linked to Bin Hammam and Qatar's successful 2022 World Cup hosting bid.
The Sunday Times has published claims in a second week of reports drawn from Bin Hammam's emails and documents, which previously alleged he paid millions of dollars to buy support from African football officials.
The newspaper said the former Asian football leader arranged government-level talks for Thailand's FIFA executive Worawi Makudi - his longtime ally on FIFA's executive committee, and a World Cup voter - to discuss a natural gas sale which was ''potentially worth tens of millions of dollars to Thailand.''
Adidas said it is ''confident that the matter is being dealt with as a priority'' by FIFA's ethics committee.
The World Cup ball provider issued a similarly worded statement in June 2011 when FIFA President Sepp Blatter was re-elected unopposed after his Qatari opponent Mohamed bin Hammam was implicated in bribing voters.
FIFA ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia has said he will close the information-gathering phase of his investigation on Monday. He should update FIFA's 209 member countries on his work on Wednesday at their annual congress in Sao Paulo.
Sponsors rarely comment on FIFA issues, and Adidas is the longest-standing World Cup partner.
Adidas joined FIFA for the 1970 World Cup and recently renewed for four more tournaments through 2030.
''Adidas enjoys a long-term and successful partnership with FIFA that we are looking forward to continue,'' the firm said.
Visa has said it will extend its World Cup sponsorship through the 2018 event in Russia and 2022.
''Our expectation remains that all of our partners maintain strong ethical standards and operate with transparency,'' the firm said in a statement.
Visa's signing with FIFA ahead of the 2008 World Cup cost football's governing body $90 million in a damages settlement with ousted sponsor Mastercard.
Top-tier FIFA sponsors pay on average more than $100 million each to be linked to the World Cup.