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Sponsors express disquiet at FIFA turmoil

posted 31 May 2011, 05:27 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 31 May 2011, 05:29 ]

FIFA sponsors express concern at controversy and bribery allegations surrounding the football governing body.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA) (FILE - FEBRUARY 26, 2010) REUTERS - Two heavyweight sponsors turned up the heat on FIFA over a deepening corruption scandal while the world soccer body's president, Sepp Blatter, refused to accept the game was in crisis.

Coca-Cola said the allegations of corruption were "distressing and bad for the sport". German sportswear maker Adidas also said on Tuesday (May 31) the controversy had hurt soccer.

A combative Blatter read from an entirely different script at FIFA's Zurich headquarters on Monday (May 30).

"Football is not in a crisis. Football is in some difficulties and they will be resolved inside our family," he said to disbelieving journalists.

That approach may founder as disquiet grows among sponsors and politicians, as well as fans worldwide, even though Blatter should be re-elected FIFA president on Wednesday for a fourth term.

Allegations of cash-for-votes in both the FIFA presidency campaign and the World Cup bidding process have left FIFA reeling. Alliances have been blown apart as senior FIFA officials have pointed the finger at one another.

Coca-Cola and Adidas both expressed concern. The two companies are longtime partners with FIFA, providing money,

goods and services to support its events worldwide -- most notably the World Cup -- in return for global brand recognition.

"The current allegations being raised are distressing and bad for the sport," Coca-Cola spokesman Petro Kacur said in an email to Reuters.

"We have every expectation that FIFA will resolve this situation in an expedient and thorough manner."

A spokesman for Adidas said: "The negative tonality of the public debate surrounding FIFA is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners."

The spokesman said Adidas planned to continue its partnership with FIFA, which stretches back more than 30 years.

Emirates airline, which sponsors FIFA tournaments including the World Cup, said on Tuesday (May 31) it was disappointed by the scandal embroiling the world soccer body.

"Emirates, like all football fans around the world, is disappointed with the issues that are currently surrounding the administration of the sport," the airline said in a statement to Reuters.

"We hope that these issues will be resolved as soon as possible and the outcome will be in the interest of the game and sport in general."

Blatter, a 75-year-old Swiss, has run soccer's world governing body since 1998 and seen it grow wealthy on the sale of TV rights and sponsorship.