Since the FIFA corruption scandal began earlier this year, many of FIFA’s sponsors have expressed concern and even went so far as demanding the removal of Sepp Blatter as FIFA President. Now, these same sponsors are going to FIFA’s executive committee to demand “independent oversight” within the FIFA reform committee.

In a letter sent to the executive committee, Adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Visa and Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch InBev is the parent company), stressed that not only does FIFA implement such reforms as “transparency, accountability, respect for human rights, integrity, leadership and gender equality,” the sponsors also demand that there be a “culture change” throughout FIFA as well as having long term independent oversight throughout the reform process.

Coca-Cola published the letter to the FIFA executive committee in full. It should be noted that FIFA sponsors Hyundai and Gazprom are not included in this open letter.

As sponsors and long-time supporters of football at every level, AB InBev, adidas, The Coca-Cola Company, McDonald’s and Visa all want to see FIFA effectively resume its mission of developing the great sport of football around the world. We know that you, the Executive Committee members, will soon be considering a list of reforms aimed at strengthening FIFA’s governance. We urge you to embrace positive changes and also recognize that this is just one step toward creating a credible future for FIFA.

We want to emphasize to you the values and characteristics that we believe should be incorporated through the reforms. Transparency, accountability, respect for human rights, integrity, leadership and gender equality are crucial to the future of FIFA. Reforms can set the proper framework for these characteristics, but a cultural change is also needed.  The culture change has to begin within FIFA and filter through to the Confederations and FIFA’s Football Associations. 

We are aware of the positive work that the Reform Committee has been doing on governance reform, but we still believe any reforms should be subject to independent oversight.  It has also become clear to us that such independent oversight needs to run long-term through the implementation and evolution of the reform process. We encourage you to become champions of this independent oversight as it will only enhance FIFA’s credibility.

Again, we want to stress that we are calling on you to embrace change, implement reforms, endorse a long-term independent oversight approach and initiate the cultural change because we all want to see football thrive.

As we get closer and closer to the FIFA presidential election in February, many soccer fans are hesitant to trust FIFA that things will change regardless of who gets elected. They fear that the culture within FIFA corrupts rather than the individual themselves.

This is exactly why these sponsors collaborated on this open letter. Only replacing Sepp Blatter will not change FIFA for the better because if FIFA only replaces one man, it will likely bring in someone else just as corrupt. Trying to change FIFA is like trying to clean your dog after they have been sprayed by a skunk. A basic bath will not get that horrible smell off the dog and only replacing one or two people will not get that horrible smell of corruption off of FIFA. It takes systematic reforms in all areas of FIFA and soccer in general in order for FIFA to not smell like a skunk anymore.

FIFA’s sponsors realize there is progress and that is why they seemingly want to stay on as FIFA sponsors. Although, like soccer fans, these sponsors are also hesitant to completely trust FIFA. And given FIFA’s track record, I can’t blame anyone for not trusting FIFA. This is FIFA’s chance to gain that trust back and these five sponsors want to make sure FIFA doesn’t screw this up.

(Associated Press/Coca-Cola) [photo: Daily Record]

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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