By Brian Homewood
ST PETERSBURG, July 24 (Reuters) - FIFA will meet its leading commercial partners next month after three of them increased pressure for major reforms to soccer’s governing body following a series of corruption scandals.
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said that Coca-Cola , Visa and McDonald’s had written asking for information about what was being done to clean up governance of the sport. He admitted that scandal had made it difficult to attract new sponsors.
“Clearly, there were a number of sponsors, mainly three, its Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa, who have expressed and sent a letter to FIFA, asking for information,” he told a new conference in the Russian city of St Petersburg.
“Two or three days ago we received a letter from all of them offering to meet together, so there will there will be a meeting next month.”
Criticism of FIFA’s governance came to a head 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.
These included fraud, money-laundering and racketeering.
Valcke added that FIFA has been keeping its partners informed of developments.
“We sent (information) to all our commercial partners, not just those three,” he said. “We sent them an update, a summary, of all that has happened within FIFA since 2012 since the first reform process started, (of) what has been changed within FIFA’s administration and around FIFA.”
“Definitely, the current situation doesn’t help to finalise any new agreements, it’s a fact, and I‘m sure that until the next election, until February 26, there (will be) no major (sponsorship) announcements.”
FIFA President Sepp Blatter is stepping down and a replacement will be chosen in February. Valcke also signalled that he would be leaving his job then.
Valcke said that despite the current difficulties there was still enough time before the 2018 World Cup, to be held in Russia, to sign up new partners.
The current sponsors have been goal in demanding changes.
Earlier this month, Coca-Cola urged Zurich-based FIFA to support the creation of an independent body to reform the way it is run.
McDonald’s said it had told FIFA that it’s internal controls and compliance culture were not consistent with expectations it has for its business partners.
Visa joined in the criticism on Thursday when it also called for an independent reform commission to be set up.
“We seek to partner with those who think and act like us,” said Visa Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf. “I don’t believe that FIFA is living up to these standards.”
FIFA announced on Monday that it would set up a task force to recommend reforms, however this will be made up of representatives from the continental soccer confederations.
Those confederations are also responsible for electing the members of FIFA’s executive committee. (Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)