A Wednesday morning emergency press conference by FIFA comms and public affairs director Walter De Gregorio after the arrest of officials from the international soccer body on corruption charges has gotten a red card from PR gurus and news outlets.
US authorities charged 14 people, including nine soccer officials, on Wednesday morning with orchestrating a long-running kickback scheme to enrich themselves.
Timeline: FIFA in crisis
De Gregorio, who faced the music alone at the Zurich press event, attempted to give a positive take on the crisis. He downplayed the arrests and denied that FIFA was in crisis, claiming the governing body had initiated the investigation when it went to the Swiss attorney general in November 2014.
De Gregorio also commented that FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who was not charged, is "calm" but "not dancing in his office."
Crisis communicators lambasted De Gregorio’s statements, tone of voice, and "arrogant" stance, as well as FIFA’s overall handling of the crisis, on Twitter.
Sending your head of comms out - on his own - to defend the unity of FIFA at a global presser. Dare I say #OwnGoal?— James Gilheany (@JJGilheany) May 27, 2015
Every single person at FIFA, including head of comms, come across as so arrogant.— Paul Sawers (@psawers) May 27, 2015
The fact that #FIFA has a head of comms whose English isn't good enough to answer critical questions with the required precision says it all— Matthias Fiechter (@MatthiasFi) May 27, 2015
If this"spokesperson" is head of public relations for FIFA, no wonder they're as corrupt as they are. Arrogant, deflective, non-committal— stuart clarke (@stooclarke) May 27, 2015
http://t.co/M9f8A98yBz - 'This is good for FIFA' says Comms director ...he must have different definition to real world's— Pirate Irwin (@pirateirwin) May 27, 2015
FIFA’s website, which live-streamed the press conference, also suffered technical glitches.
Others questioned how the comms teams of FIFA sponsors will react.
Fifa sponsors' comms depts no doubt on red alert. Prob won't thank Fifa for inclusion on today's press releases... pic.twitter.com/WZNlrtf3SA— Matthew Glendinning (@mattglen) May 27, 2015