With the FIFA annual congress meeting in Zurich today, one man appears to be somewhat absent – as I write this anyway…
Whether you are a football/soccer fan or not, most people know the name Sepp Blatter.
So far, teflon Sepp has managed to avoid the direct controversy that has surrounded his reign and tomorrow’s vote for his probable re-election is seen by many as more of a parade than a democratic process. Rivals for the role have fallen by the wayside, although some, such as the legendary Portuguese player Luis Figo have not gone quietly:
“People who love football such as I do, will remember 26th [27th] May as one of the worst days of the history of FIFA. I reiterate what I said last week: what is happening Friday in Zurich it’s not an election.
‘Now, there’s much more people who agree with me. To give consent to this plebiscite is a mistake.’
We’ve all heard the whispers, the nudge-nudge, wink-winks and of course…many say no more. However, this time it is different. The sponsors are getting nervous.
- Credit card giant Visa said: “We expect Fifa to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues. Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship”
- Coca-Cola said: “This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the Fifa World Cup”
- Adidas said it was “fully committed to creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics and compliance, and we expect the same from our partners”
- McDonald’s, a second-tier sponsor, said the latest developments were “extremely concerning” and it was closely monitoring the situation
- Hyundai Motor told the BBC it was “extremely concerned about the legal proceedings… and will continue to monitor the situation closely”
They say politics and sport should be kept apart but FIFA bestrides both, with the UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond telling the BBC there was “something deeply wrong at the heart of Fifa and international football needs to reform, needs to get its act together.”
It will be interesting to see what, if anything Mr Blatter has to say later today or tomorrow. It is clear something has to change…will it be the leader?
I would suggest that the sponsors will be the king-maker this time around.