FIFA key sponsors use their influential voices to force FIFA into action

October 02, 2019 by Mark Dunn

The Women's World Cup generated a lot of interest—with The Guardian reporting the USA's World Cup victory over Japan smashed the TV record for soccer with more than 25 million viewers, making it the most watched soccer game in US history. Unfortunately, with the game—and the viewership—now marked down in the record books, eyes are once again turning to the FIFA corruption allegations.

FIFA key sponsors have piled on the pressure in the wake of the corruption scandal, with the London Evening Standard reporting that "Visa threatened to break off its contract over concerns about the £100 million corruption allegations, saying it would withdraw sponsorship unless FIFA made urgent reforms".

Following the announcement by Swiss and US investigators of criminal proceedings against FIFA for alleged money laundering in connection with the 2018 and 2022 World Cups – and allegations of "systematic" corruption in the United States and Latin America – Transparency International issued a press release with Cobus de Swardt, Managing Director of the anti-corruption campaigning group, stating the pressure was now on sponsors to make their influential voices heard.

"The warning signs for FIFA have been there for a long time. FIFA has refused to abide by many basic standards of good governance that would reduce the risk of corruption," de Swardt said.

In fact, back in 2011, Transparency International published "Safe Hands" outlining the measures that FIFA should take to strengthen organisational integrity and reduce opportunities for corruption. These included enhanced anti-bribery measures on areas of high risk including "Intermediaries acting on FIFA's behalf".

Why Third-Party Due Diligence & Monitoring Matters

To limit the danger of bribery and corruption, Transparency International recommended that FIFA should – under the guidance and scrutiny of the multi-stakeholder group – follow the principles set out in leading anti-bribery codes, such as their Business Principles for Countering Bribery including:

"commitment to […] a transparent, published implementation process that is monitored and evaluated."

A thorough and on-going due-diligence and monitoring process is particularly important when working through third-party agents in different countries. Rigorous compliance, due diligence and supply chain management policies and practices are instrumental if manufacturers are to avoid the reputational damage associated with supply chain risks.  Monitoring negative media stories around industry critical areas and locations can help a business keep a close eye on suppliers. This avoids adverse publicity over environmental and social performance, as well as contributing to a pro-active culture of risk identification.

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