Jun 1, 2011
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Coke, Adidas say FIFA allegations hurt soccer

Jun 1, 2011

May 31 - Corporate sponsors Coca-Cola Co and German sportswear maker Adidas on Monday expressed concern about allegations of corruption within FIFA, soccer's governing body, and warned that it could harm the game.

adidas, Fifa
FIFA president Sepp Blatter (Photo: Corbis)

The two companies are longtime partners with FIFA, providing money, goods and services to support its events worldwide -- most notably the World Cup -- in return for global brand recognition.

"The current allegations being raised are distressing and bad for the sport," Coca-Cola spokesman Petro Kacur said in an email to Reuters.

"We have every expectation that FIFA will resolve this situation in an expedient and thorough manner," Kacur added.

FIFA has been beset by accusations of bribery involving members of its inner circle of executive committee members since the vote to decide the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups took place in Zurich in December.

On Monday, FIFA President Sepp Blatter denied there was a crisis in soccer after a leaked email suggested Qatar had bought the rights to host the 2022 World Cup.

Ten of the 24 members of the executive committee have been subject to allegations of corruption in the last year.

"The negative tonality of the public debate surrounding FIFA is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners," said a spokesman for Adidas.

The spokesman said Adidas plans to continue its long partnership with FIFA, which stretches back more than 30 years. Since 1970, Adidas has provided the official match ball for World Cup matches and is slated to be an official licensee and supplier for the World Cup in 2014.

Coca-Cola is one of the largest corporate partners of FIFA and has been an official sponsor of the World Cup since 1978.

The Atlanta-based company provides cash, products and services in support of FIFA-organized events around the world, including the FIFA World Youth Championship and the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Another major sponsor, Brazilian telecoms group Oi, declined to comment.

Others could not be reached for comment, including Sony Corp, Visa Inc and Castrol Ltd.

(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by David Gregorio and Dan Grebler)

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