by Trevor Williams
Coca-Cola Co., a long-time FIFA sponsor that underscores the power of soccer to bring people together globally, issued a statement urging the sport’s governing body to address the issues that led to the arrest of seven executives on U.S. corruption charges in Switzerland Wednesday.
“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 an emailed statement. “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 U.S. Department of Justice named 14 defendants in an indictment alleging that for more than two decades FIFA executives accepted bribes and kickbacks in exchange for votes on World Cup bids and preferential treatment on broadcast and marketing deals. Four sports marketing executives and two companies were also alleged to have paid or agreed to pay more than $150 million in bribes.
The statement comes just two weeks after Coke joined other FIFA sponsors in speaking out over allegations of human rights abuses leveled against Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup. Rights groups accuse Qatari companies handling construction of World Cup venues and infrastructure of exploiting mostly South Asian migrant laborers by withholding income and subjecting them to unsafe working conditions and squalid living conditions.
Read how one of the indicted executives is connected to Atlanta here (includes links to the DOJ’s release on the indictment).