(Adds sponsors’ statement)
By Brian Homewood
ZURICH, Aug 20 (Reuters) - FIFA discussed reforms with some of its leading commercial partners on Thursday during a secretive meeting at the headquarters of world soccer’s scandal-plagued governing body.
FIFA told its partners it was committed to reform and transparency but would not comment further on the meeting which it described as “internal.”
“During the meeting, FIFA reaffirmed its commitment to transparency, reform, and collaboration with its valued partners,” said a statement. “No further comment will be made on the internal discussions between the parties.”
FIFA said that AB InBev, Adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa were present.
The sponsors said in a joint statement: “FIFA provided the sponsors with updates on several topics. During this meeting, we reiterated our expectations for robust reform, and we will continue to engage with FIFA.”
A security guard was placed on the entrance to FIFA’s headquarters, situated at the edge of an affluent hillside suburb, to prevent anyone from entering the grounds without an appointment.
On most days, visitors can walk straight into the building and go to reception.
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said last month that the sponsors had written asking for information about what was being done to clean up governance of the sport and offering to meet soccer’s ruling body.
Valcke’s announcement came after Coca-Cola and Visa publicly urged FIFA to support the creation of an independent body to reform the way it is run.
McDonald’s said it had told FIFA that its internal controls and compliance culture were not consistent with the expectations it had for its business partners.
FIFA was thrown into turmoil in May when U.S. prosecutors indicted nine soccer officials, most of whom had FIFA positions, and five marketing and broadcasting company executives over a range of alleged offences.
The charges included fraud, money-laundering and racketeering.
FIFA has set up a new Reform Committee, headed by former International Olympic Committee (IOC) director general Francois Carrard.
However, critics say it lacks independence as it is made up mostly of members of the continental confederations who also elect the members of the executive committee.
The executive committee is, itself, one of the main targets for reforms. (Editing by Clare Lovell and Ken Ferris)