Five World Cup sponsors call secret meeting with FIFA, reiterate demands for reform

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If the heat on FIFA was turned up to full-blast by the FBI and Department of Justice earlier this year, it’s the world football’s governing body’s commercial sponsors that are keeping it that way.

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Representatives from five major World Cup sponsors — adidas, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa — demanded a closed-door meeting with a number of the organization’s current leaders on Thursday, in which they reiterated their demands that widespread reform and transparency be implemented immediately.

Upon completion of the meeting, FIFA issued a short statement in which they declined to make any comments beyond “FIFA has reaffirmed its commitment to transparency, reform, and collaboration with its valued partners,” to which the sponsors’ joint statement said, “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.”

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The other two sponsors currently committed to future World Cup deals — Gazprom and Hyundai — were absent from Thursday’s meeting. No explanation was given by FIFA or the two sponsors.

FIFA will hold its second presidential election in less than 10 months on Feb. 26, 2016, to select a replacement for 17-year-incumbent Sepp Blatter, who last month confirmed he would not be running for re-election upon stepping down mere days after being re-elected in May.