Visa Sends A Warning That It Could Pull Its FIFA Sponsorship

What a difference a week makes: Although last week it seemed Visa, Coca-Cola and other big name sponsors would stick with their sponsorships of the 2022 soccer World Cup amidst rumors of human rights abuses in host country Qatar, after multiple officials of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and several allied businesses were arrested yesterday, it seems some companies are getting cold feet.

Visa is throwing out a yellow card, warning that it might cut sponsorship ties today, after expressing some concerns about the conditions of migrant workers in Qatar last week. The company issued a new statement in light of the arrests in Switzerland, where officials and other parties were charged with racketeering, bribery, wire fraud and money laundering, saying it expects FIFA to take “swift and immediate steps” to address its issues.

“This starts with rebuilding a culture with strong ethical practices in order to restore the reputation of the games for fans everywhere,” it said in a statement, via the Associated Press. “Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.”

Coca-Cola also changed its tune a bit from last week, when it didn’t mention any alleged human rights issues but said it expected FIFA to sort things out. Its new view of the situation takes a harder stance than before as well.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

Sponsors pull a lot of weight with FIFA, as they provide almost a third of its revenues, notes the AP.

Visa becomes first FIFA sponsor to warn it could jump ship [Associated Press]

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