FIFA sponsor McDonald's has called for a thorough investigation into allegations of wrongdoing at FIFA following the suspension of the organisation's president Sepp Blatter. As Ivor Bennett reports, the scandal engulfing world football's governing body is presenting its commercial partners with a difficult dilemma.
Silently slipping out of FIFA's headquarters - the question is: will he ever come back? Sepp Blatter's 90-day suspension by world football's governing body no doubt has sponsors breathing a sigh of relief. Because for them, too, it would be a difficult exit, says sports business strategy professor Simon Chadwick. SOUNDBITE (English) SIMON CHADWICK, PROFESSOR OF SPORT BUSINESS STRATEGY, COVENTRY UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "FIFA sponsorship deals are so valuable in terms of the number of people looking at these deals, the number of football fans across the world the amount of value it delivers to sponsors that I think withdrawal is a move of last resort. Worse still, it opens the door to rivals. SOUNDBITE (English) SIMON CHADWICK, PROFESSOR OF SPORT BUSINESS STRATEGY, COVENTRY UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "Amongst this top table level of sponsors you've got some fairly big battles taking place. So for example coca cola. And we know that if coca cola was ever to pull out, you can pretty much imagine that Pepsi would move straight in there." But the deepening scandal presents a difficult dilemma. Financial pressures balanced by corporate responsibility. Coke, Visa, Budweiser and McDonald's all issued statements last week calling on Blatter to quit. And the fast food giant has spoken out again today. Saying all allegations of wrongdoing need to be investigated thoroughly so the reform process can proceed. A bigger worry, says Chadwick, would be a comment from Adidas. A loyal partner since 1970, FIFA's oldest sponsor has so far said nothing at all. SOUNDBITE (English) SIMON CHADWICK, PROFESSOR OF SPORT BUSINESS STRATEGY, COVENTRY UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "If Adidas was to start making any form of public statement about FIFA, that's the point at which FIFA would really need to start becoming concerned." Comment or no comment though, the beautiful game this is no longer. And the sense is it could get much uglier yet.