Monday, June 9, 2014

Qatar: FIFA's Asian Partners Expect Thorough Investigation into Corruption Allegations Re: Qatar's 2022 World Cup Bid

According to AFP in Seoul, FIFA's Asian commercial partners said Monday (June 9) that they expect a "thorough investigation" into corruption allegations over Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid, reflecting concerns that their multi-million dollar sponsorship deals may well be tainted.

Analysts say official statements from some of football's biggest financial backers reveal the extent of corporate concern over the charges of bribery.

After Adidas and Visa spoke out at the weekend, FIFA's two top-tier "partner" sponsors in Asia, Hyundai and Sony, both underlined the importance of an exhaustive inquiry.

"We are confident that FIFA is taking these allegations seriously and that the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee will conduct a thorough investigation," Hyundai said.

Sony had a similar reaction to the allegations that former Qatari football boss Mohamed bin Hammam paid millions of dollars in bribes to secure support for Qatar's deeply controversial victory in a 2010 FIFA vote.

COMMENT: The tone was mild, but FIFA's corporate backers rarely speak out and the fact that they issued statements at all pointed, analysts said, to the level of concern.
The two Asian conglomerates make up the six FIFA full partners, along with Adidas, Coca-Cola, Emirates and Visa. Together they account for hundreds of millions of dollars in World Cup revenues.

Adidas said Sunday (June 8) it was confident that the matter was being dealt with "as a priority," while Visa said it would continue to monitor the internal FIFA investigation.

FIFA investigator Michael García, a former US federal prosecutor, is scheduled to complete his inquiry into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes on Tuesday (June 10). His report is not expected until mid-July, when the World Cup finals wrap up.

UK-based THE SUNDAY TIMES has said it has obtained millions of emails, documents and bank transfers revealing that bin Hammam paid over $5 million (3.67m euros) to win support in the bidding process.