Sepp Blatter has told delegates at a football congress in Zurich that FIFA's reputation ''couldn't be dragged through mud.'' But the organisation's reputation has clearly taken a hit. Ciara Lee asks a branding expert how FIFA can restore trust.
Delegates arrive at the FIFA congress in Zurich, as the corruption scandal takes its toll. As one of the biggest brands in the world, representing one of the most popular sports - FIFA reaches nearly every corner of the planet. But in light of the indictment of nine FIFA officials on corruption and bribery charges, it's in trouble, both with its sponsors and with fans. What can FIFA do to restore trust? Lois Jacobs is CEO of branding experts Landor. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LOIS JACOBS, CEO OF LANDOR, SAYING: "They need to really redefine what their brand stands for, what their brand purpose is, why they are in business. They need to define that in a very broad context. FIFA does a lot of good things aside from running the World Cup. And it's those things they should emphasise as well. They should talk about social responsibilty and about all the changes that they make to peoples lives all over the world." The world cup host's major sponsors have issued public warnings, with Visa saying it may end support if FIFA doesn't clean up its act, and fast. The organisation relies heavily on sponsorship revenue to fund its activities, receiving a total of $177 million last year from its long-term partners. But those sponsors now have leverage. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LOIS JACOBS, CEO OF LANDOR, SAYING: "It's inevitable that sponsors will withdraw support, because the reason that they support such an event, or such an organisation, and actually it is the event they support rather than the organisation, is because they want to couple their brand with the values of integrity of truth and of fair play that are inherent to a sporting event. So when those values are damaged, they have to rethink what they are doing." It's the biggest crisis in the body's 111-year history. And it's not just sponsors who are upset. Consumers have been piling on the pressure, taking to social media to boycott FIFA-backed brands. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LOIS JACOBS, CEO OF LANDOR, SAYING: "It reminds me of back in the late 90s, the Olympic movement went through a very similar crisis around the awarding of the winter Olympics to Salt Lake City. There was some very quick and draconian action that took place immediately. Reviews, 54 reforms were announced within months of the scandal. And now the Olympic movement remains very strong." Around 1.6 billion dollars of FIFA's 5.7 billion dollar revenue between 2011 to 2014 came from marketing rights. And while World Cup sponsorships are usually in high demand, brand experts say FIFA would have a hard time replacing any cancelled agreements as long as its reputation was in question.