Some of the globe's major retail and retail-adjacent brands have been led to make public statements this week, in the wake of the scandal surrounding arrests at international football governing body Fifa.

Payments provider Visa has joined Adidas, Coca Cola, McDonald's and others – all of whom are key sponsors of the Fifa World Cup – in stating concern and issuing warnings about the sports body's behaviour, following allegations of fraud, money-laundering and bribery within the organisation.

With seven arrests of senior Fifa officials in Zurich on Tuesday following charges brought by the US Department of Justice, the sponsors – all of whom spend significant sums of money on associating their brands with Fifa's events – have felt compelled to speak out on the subject. Allegations of corruption have been brought against 14 football officials in total.

Visa has urged the football body to rebuild its culture on "strong ethical practices", adding that failure to do this and failure to make other changes to the way the association is run would result in the payments firm reassessing its sponsorship. Coca Cola, meanwhile, took the opportunity to tell Fifa that it must "follow transparent compliance standards in everything it does".

In statements released earlier this week, here's what the retail-related brands had to say on the matter:


"Our disappointment and concern with Fifa in light of today's developments is profound. As a sponsor, we expect Fifa to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organisation.

"This starts with rebuilding a culture with strong ethical practices in order to restore the reputation of the games for fans everywhere. Visa became a sponsor of Fifa because the World Cup is one of the few truly global sporting events with the power to unite people from around the world through a common love of football.  

"Our sponsorship has always focused on supporting the teams, enabling a great fan experience, and inspiring communities to come together and celebrate the spirit of competition and personal achievement – and it is important that Fifa makes changes now, so that the focus remain on these going forward. Should Fifa fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship."

Coca Cola

"This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the Fifa World Cup and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations. We expect Fifa to continue to address these issues thoroughly. Fifa has stated that it is responding to all requests for information and we are confident it will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities."


"The Adidas group is fully committed to creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics and compliance, and we expect the same from our partners. Following today's news, we can therefore only encourage Fifa to continue to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything it does."


"McDonald's takes matters of ethics and corruption very seriously and the news from the US Department of Justice is extremely concerning. We are in contact with FIFA on this matter. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely."

This week's Fifa scandal has raised questions about how corporate sponsors must act in light of such revelations, with the BBC's Robert Peston penning an article entitled 'Why aren't sponsors tougher on Fifa?', which highlighted what is at stake for the companies involved.

So what can corporate sponsors do in this type of situation? Talking to Essential Retail, Professor Heiner Evanschitzky, the professor of marketing at Aston Business School, said it is "certainly a PR disaster, though not without precedent", citing the examples of Tiger Woods' relationship with Nike and the various brands associated with the Tour de France in the past decade.

He commented: "What to do as a sponsoring brand? It's a balancing act: distance yourself from the person [Fifa president Sepp Blatter] but remain positive about the sport as such.

"Nike, for instance, remained loyal to Woods despite his mishaps – which in the end paid off as customers appreciated that the company gave him a second chance; Deutsche Telekom pulled out of the Tour de France and that was also the right decision as they had been given second chances way too often before."

Evanschitzky added: "I'm not aware of specific arrangements between Fifa and its sponsors, but typically they have some clause that would allow them to end a relationship in case something severe happens.

"For instance, the brands could demand Blatter to resign and build up pressure. Perhaps that's what the public and the consumers would expect them to do. If nothing happens, ending the relationship is probably best."

The professor also suggested it is important for companies to track their reputations, using dimensions such as customer orientation, good employer, reliable & financially strong company, product & service quality, and social/environmental responsibility.

"If some measures are taken, for example demanding Blatter to retire, the brands need to do a before/after test of their reputation – pretty easy to do with the measurement instruments available."

Click below for more information:

Aston Business School