FIFA sponsors, minus Gazprom, voice concerns about scandal

Nearly all of FIFA's sponsors demanded the organization get its act together on corruption.

FIFA’s sponsors are holding the group’s feet to the fire – except for Russian energy giant Gazprom – after the arrests of top soccer officials and investigations into the group by two countries.

Visa has taken not only the strongest stance on the issue, it’s also the only FIFA supporter to use social media to show its outrage. The financial services giant tweeted a link to a statement that said if the soccer organization does not make changes post haste, it will reassess its sponsorship.

In addition to the Justice Department indicting 14 people, including nine current and former soccer officials, on corruption charges, authorities in the US and Switzerland are conducting separate inquiries into alleged corruption at FIFA. Switzerland, where FIFA is based, began another investigation into the awarding of the 2018 Russia and 2022 Qatar World Cups.

Coca-Cola has issued a statement saying the "lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup, and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations."

It added that it expects FIFA to thoroughly address the issues.

McDonald’s, an official sponsor of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, told the media that the company takes "matters of ethics and corruption very seriously."

In contrast, a Gazprom representative reportedly said on Thursday that the company’s "sponsorship agreement is not affected by the situation around FIFA."

The spokesperson, Sergei Kuprianov, added, "How can this situation affect it? It simply can't. It's unrelated."

Gazprom tweeted about its work with Russian pipeline companies to address research and development programs on Thursday morning.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also chimed in on Thursday, saying the US is meddling in FIFA’s affairs so it can take the 2018 World Cup from his country.

Other FIFA sponsors, including Adidas, Hyundai, and Budweiser, have all voiced concerns about the investigation.

Adidas told Quartz in a statement that the brand is committed to the highest standards of ethics and "can therefore only encourage FIFA to continue to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do."

Automaker Hyundai, parent company of Kia, reportedly said it is "extremely concerned" about the legal proceedings, while Budweiser said it expects "all of our partners to maintain strong ethical standards and operate with transparency."

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