​Exit Visa? Sponsors contemplate breaking FIFA ties amid bribery scandal

Ruters / Jason Reed
Visa Inc. may reconsider its sponsorship contract with FIFA if the latter does not immediately take prompt actions to remedy its reputation. Many other sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Adidas and McDonald’s could follow the lead.

“Our disappointment and concern with FIFA in light of [Wednesday’s-Ed.] developments is profound. As a sponsor, we expect FIFA to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organization,” said an official statement on the Visa websitepublishedWednesday.

Visa urged FIFA to start restoring its reputation in the eyes of football fans by“rebuilding a culture with strong ethical practices.”If the football organization fails to do so, VISA will reassess the sponsorship, the statement said.

Visa Inc. was FIFA’s major partner at Brazil's 2014 World Cup, reportedly paying $25-$50 million per year, along with others such as Emirates Airlines and Sony.

In 2014, the world’s biggest bank-card network extended its contract with FIFA to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

READ MORE: FIFA arrests in corruption probe

The partners are Adidas, Coca-Cola, Visa, OAO Gazprom, Hyundai Motor Co. and its Kia Motors Corp. affiliate, with Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s Budweiser and McDonald’s as second-tier sponsors of the World Cup.

Visa is not the only company to contemplate tearing up its agreement with FIFA.

"This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup," said Coca-Cola.

FIFA’s second-tier sponsor McDonald's expressed its concern with the latest developments, saying it was closely monitoring the situation.

Adidas said it aims to establish a culture of the highest ethical standards and expects the same from its partners.

The FIFA-crisis has no impact on its sponsorship agreement with Gazprom, spokesman for the company Sergey Kupriyanov told TASS on Thursday.

On Wednesday, seven FIFA officials were detained in Zurich at the request of US law enforcement. The Federal Court in Brooklyn indicted 14 sports functionaries, including nine current officials. Among them are FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb, President of Costa Rica's Football Federation Eduardo Li and FIFA Development Officer Julio Rocha.

READ MORE: Red card! Swiss justice office freezes implicated FIFA officials’ bank accounts

They are accused of systematically paying and agreeing to pay over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks, going back to the early 1990s.