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Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

Sponsors give FIFA a red card

Sally Herships Oct 8, 2015
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Things are not looking good for FIFA. The entire top layer of the soccer organization has been temporarily kicked out, starting with Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA. He has been suspended for 90 days. (Our partners at the BBC talked to Blatter recently.) 

Two of Blatter’s top deputies have also been suspended amid accusations of widespread corruption and a growing criminal investigation. And major sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Visa and McDonald’s, are demanding that something be done to clean up the sport. 

It’s what Mary Jo Jacobi, an expert in crisis management and a former assistant secretary at the Department of Commerce, calls “a crisis is of epic proportions.”

She says FIFA has “a real problem. Because it appears endemic to the organization, and they have been very slow to act.” 

It’s one thing to have a problem with a player, Jacobi said. But trouble with sponsors is on a whole other level. 

“Without the sponsors, you don’t have the money to fund the sport,” she said.  

Jacobi said one option for FIFA would be to bring in someone from the outside, who has a reputation of integrity and could take charge and provide reassurance for sponsors. There is another option, she said.

“There has to be, in every organization, no matter how corrupt it is, someone who’s not corrupted by it yet.” 

But that person may be hard to find, said Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Sounds like we’re talking about a needle in a haystack,” he said

There’s growing sentiment that an independent organization should step in, he said. But, Rishe notes, if they really want the sport cleaned up, sponsors may have to take real action — even if it hurts.

“They know that being tied to soccer is a great vehicle for getting their product in front of millions and millions and millions of people,” he said.

But, he added, nothing says serious like pulling your ad dollars. 

 

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