FIFA sponsor McDonald’s backs independent reform body – group
Many critics have expressed scepticism that an internal Reform Task Force set up by FIFA was capable of driving the radical change needed to restore confidence in the body.
The campaigning group New FIFA Now published an email from a McDonald’s spokesperson on Thursday saying the fast food giant supported creation of an independent body.
“In regards to an independent reform commission, we do believe this is an important step in the greater reform that has to happen within FIFA,” McDonald’s vice-president of global media relations and issues management, Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, wrote in the email published on the group’s website and a copy of which was made available to Reuters.
“An independent commission would bring an appropriate level of credibility, transparency, and neutrality to the role, and ultimately provide sponsors and fans across the globe with the confidence that the reform effort is both meaningful and a step in the right direction,” Sa Shekhem wrote.
Previously, McDonald’s had been critical of FIFA and urged change without specifically demanding an independent reform process. McDonald’s, which like other major sponsors exerts great influence in top-flight world football, did not immediately respond to a request for further comment. World football’s governing body has been in crisis since May, when nine officials and five marketing executives were charged by the U.S. Justice Department with exploiting the sport for their own gain through bribes of more than $150 million over 24 years.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said he will stand down next February, but denies any involvement in corruption.
Last month, FIFA announced it was creating a Reform Task Force made up of ten representatives of its regional confederations and to be chaired by someone from outside of football.
That body, the members of which have yet to be announced, is scheduled to make its proposals to FIFA’s executive committee in late September. Campaigners were critical of the move, saying only an entirely independent body could bring about effective change.
“We applaud McDonald’s for joining with Coca-Cola and Visa. They understand just how vital it is that reform of FIFA is independent of the deep vested interests surrounding the organisation and its personnel,” said New FIFA Now co-founder Jaimie Fuller in a statement.
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has said he will meet with the organisation’s sponsors during August.
New FIFA Now was launched in Brussels in January with the backing of ex-FIFA official and former French diplomat Jerome Champagne, the ex-head of England’s Football Association, David Triesman, who is a member of the House of Lords, and British Conservative MP Damian Collins.
The organisation has also worked with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Transparency International on FIFA-related issues.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; editing by Ralph Boulton)