Saturday, November 24, 2012

Emirates Expresses Skepticism about FIFA Reform

Emirates Airlines, based in the United Arab Emirates, has expressed disappointment in FIFA's reform efforts. The Washington Post reports:
Emirates airlines wants evidence FIFA is eradicating corruption and the scandal-hit organization’s public image is improving before renewing its sponsorship.

The Dubai-based carrier’s $195 million, eight-year sponsorship of world soccer’s governing body expires in 2014.Emirates senior vice president Boutros Boutros said Friday the airline has yet to see enough progress since FIFA President Sepp Blatter instigated a reform drive to prevent a repeat of scandals that have damaged the credibility of the organization in recent years.

“So far they talk a lot about them, but we are yet to see,” Boutros Boutros said. “They look serious about it and we are optimistic. We hope they will work on it and do what the public want ... we are waiting until after 2014 to evaluate.”Asked if Emirates will ensure FIFA is no longer perceived to be a tainted organization before agreeing on a new deal, Boutros responded: “Definitely."
It is not the first time that Emirates has expressed disappointment in FIFA governance. In May, 2011 on the occasion of FIFA's 61st Congress Emirates expressed similar sentiments, along with several other major sponsors of FIFA:
Visa Inc and Emirates Airlines were the latest of FIFA's most important sponsors, or Partners as the governing body calls them, to express disquiet at recent allegations of corruption.

"The current situation is clearly not good for the game and we ask that FIFA take all necessary steps to resolve the concerns that have been raised," Visa Europe said in a statement.

Emirates airline expressed its concern saying it was "disappointed with the issues that are currently surrounding the administration of the sport."

Earlier, Coca-Cola said the allegations were "distressing and bad for the sport." German sportswear maker Adidas also said the controversy had hurt soccer.

The other two members of the six-strong group of Partners, Sony and Hyundai-Kia, had made no comment on the recent claims of bribery in the presidential election campaign and in last year's World Cup vote. 
Despite the expressed concerns, the sponsors have exhibited minimal public pressure on FIFA. The general perception among those in sports marketing is that such expressions of concern are simply that -- for instance:
FIFA's major sponsors are talking tough over corruption allegations that are rocking soccer's governing body, but marketing experts doubt their words will translate into actions that could cost the organization lucrative deals.

"Based on history, one would not expect the sponsors to do much more than issue statements in favor of ethical behavior and opposed to unethical behavior," said Marc Ganis, president of consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd.
It would indeed be a major action if a FIFA sponsor walked away from sponsorship due to unhappiness with reform efforts. At this point it also seems highly unlikely.


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