Blatter faces backlash from sponsors over Fifa scandal

Governing body earned an estimated £1bn in sponsorship from 2006 to 2010 in deals with a range of multinational brands

Sepp Blatter faced a revolt of the global brands which pour £1bn into Fifa's coffers after football's most valuable sponsors demanded action to resolve the corruption scandal which has tarnished the game's image.

Coca-Cola, Visa, BP, Adidas and Emirates airlines formed an unprecedented alliance of brands determined to distance themselves from the allegations, and to use their corporate muscle to force change upon a governing body which has ignored pleas for reform from national associations and governments.

Fifa earned an estimated $1.6bn (£1bn) in sponsorship between 2006 and 2010 by signing long-term, rolling deals with a range of multinational brands. Mr Blatter, the Fifa president, describes the sponsors as part of Fifa's "football family".

Analysts said that Mr Blatter could not brush aside statements of concern issued by four of the body's "big six" official partners, which pay up to £25m a year for exclusive sponsorship and marketing rights to tournaments, including the World Cup.

As angry fans launched social media campaigns urging customers to boycott Visa and Coca-Cola whilst they remain Fifa sponsors, the leading commercial partners moved to distance themselves from the scandal.

Emirates said it was "disappointed" with the bribery allegations. Visa said the current situation was "clearly not good for the game" and called upon Fifa to "take all necessary steps to resolve the concerns that have been raised".

BP, which owns Castrol, one of six second-tier World Cup sponsors, which pay up to £15m a year to Fifa, also expressed concern. "Castrol is a supporter of clean and fair football," said a spokesman. "We are watching the current situation very closely and expect Fifa to resolve these issues in a right and proper manner."

A spokesman for Adidas, a Fifa sponsor for 30 years, said that "the negative tenor of the public debate around Fifa at the moment is neither good for football nor for Fifa and its partners."

Coca-Cola called the "allegations distressing and bad for the sport", and urged Fifa to "resolve this situation in an expedient and thorough manner".

Sponsorship experts said it was highly unusual for the sponsors, multibillion-dollar global entities which prefer to avoid controversy, to get involved in the row. Karen Earl, chairwoman of the European Sponsorship Association, said: "Blatter has to take notice of the sponsors. They are an important part of the 'football family' which he said would need to resolve this situation." Ms Earl thought it unlikely that the sponsors would cut their ties with Fifa though. "They are saying 'We want to support football but you are the governing body and you need to get your house in order'," she said.

Tony Garner, director of the sports marketing firm Viva Sport, said: "Sponsors are getting edgy. If Fifa isn't concerned about the reputation of the sport, it may well be interested in the money machine grinding to a halt. When that happens it may force Blatter and Co to come up with a strategy that addresses the big issue."

Simon Rines, a sports sponsorship analyst, said: "Can Blatter defy the people who provide half your income? If one or two sponsors start to pull out it would leave a black hole in the Fifa accounts. These partners have made a huge investment in Fifa. They will be very sensitive to any adverse publicity rubbing off on their brands."

The South Korean-based motor giant Hyundai-Kia recently agreed a £170m eight-year deal, guaranteeing its top-tier status as Fifa's "official automotive partner". The company declined to comment on the affair.

Sony, another Fifa partner, which signed a £185m deal, said it did not wish to become involved "at this point in time". McDonald's, another World Cup sponsor, said it "remained focused" on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future