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Pressure Mounts On Blatter To Stand Down

Wed 11th Jun 2014 | FIFA

Pressure is mounting on FIFA President, Sepp Blatter not to stand for a fifth term of office following criticism from UEFA members at a meeting on Tuesday.

In an astonishing turn of events at a gathering of UEFA associations, Blatter was confronted with calls to stand down, firstly from Dutch FA President, Michael van Praag then by English FA Chairman, Greg Dyke who said, “It is time for FIFA to stop attacking the messenger and instead consider, and understand, the message.”

Blatter has been engulfed by criticism ahead of the World Cup which begins in Brazil on Thursday following allegations of corruption over Qatar’s successful 2022 World Cup bid by the Sunday Times, which he described as being “racist and discriminatory”.

However, Dyke countered Blatter’s claims stating, "The allegations being made are nothing to do with racism. They are allegations about corruption.

“I read the articles in the Sunday Times in great detail; the allegations being made were nothing to do with racism. They are allegations about corruption within FIFA. These allegations need to be properly investigated and properly answered.”

Van Praag, who is a likely candidate to stand for the FIFA Presidency should UEFA President Michel Platini choose not to stand added, “FIFA has an ugly reputation around the world and Blatter is ultimately responsible.”

FIFA’s chief investigator, lawyer Michael Garcia, who is due to give the findings of his investigation into the bidding process for the 2018/2022 World Cups is due to give his evidence later in the year. However, the furore over the way the bidding was handled for the 2022 world Cup and the allegations of corruption has led to five of FIFA’s six main sponsors to call for a full and thorough investigation.

“This is an unprecedented step, as sponsors rarely involve themselves in the political or legal issues surrounding a sponsored party, but the allegations of secret deals between FIFA and Qatari officials, even if they are unfounded, are very damaging,” commented Stephanie Beckett, a Solicitor on the sport and leisure team at law firm Thomas Eggar LLP.

“With the World Cup attracting such huge media and public interest, sponsors such as Sony, Adidas and Visa naturally want to limit exposure to reputational damage by association with FIFA.

“One way they can do this to ensure that the sponsorship agreements they sign sufficiently protect them against reputational damage arising from an association with corrupt behaviour.

“The inclusion of anti-bribery provisions in sponsorship agreements is advised, whereby each party agrees to comply with all applicable laws. They must also implement anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies and procedures in the relevant jurisdiction, breach of which would allow the other party to terminate the agreement. 

“Sponsors could also seek to include an obligation on FIFA to ensure that it complies with all applicable laws and regulations generally during the term of the agreement, as well as a provision obliging FIFA to indemnify them for any losses occasioned by reputational damage resulting its association with corrupt behaviours (although such losses may be difficult to evidence in practice).

“In the long term, the allegations against FIFA may lead to fewer potential sponsors, thus reducing this lucrative revenue stream and damaging FIFA’s reputation for retaining them. It remains to be seen whether sponsors will take advantage of this tipping of the balance of power in their favour by negotiating more favourable sponsorship agreements and lower sponsorship fees with FIFA in future.”

Image: Action Images / Jed Leicester Livepic 

Posted by: Aaron Gourley 

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