If you expected this week’s sham re-election of Sepp Blatter after a massive federal corruption takedown to be the final straw in corporate slave sponsors’ relationship with FIFA, you have far too optimistic a view of the world. McDonald’s, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Visa, and other FIFA sponsors are smiling and nodding their heads, while backing the corrupt regime to the very end.
Here’s a sampling of corporate press releases:
As a company that places the highest priority on ethical standards and transparency, Hyundai Motor is extremely concerned about the legal proceedings being taken against FIFA executives and will continue to monitor the situation closely.
Following today’s news, we can therefore only encourage FIFA to continue to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do.
FIFA has stated that it is responding to all requests for information and we are confident it will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities.
We continue to closely monitor the situation through our ongoing communications with FIFA.
Our sponsorship has always focused on supporting the teams, enabling a great fan experience, and inspiring communities to come together and celebrate the spirit of competition and personal achievement – and it is important that FIFA makes changes now, so that the focus remain on these going forward. Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.
Those aren’t the strongest statements! (They also might sound familiar, because the same sponsors said the same things during FIFA’s last corruption crisis.) Compare to what Anheuser-Busch said to the NFL during its domestic violence crisis:
We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code.
The longer the brands Budweiser, McDonald’s, Visa, Adidas, and Coca-Cola remain affiliated with FIFA, the longer they are direct sponsors of slavery and corruption. Can whatever value that comes from sponsoring a tournament that is still three years away possibly outweigh the continued direct association with human rights violations?
You’ll notice something else in common with the corporate statements: overt efforts at image repair. Not only do they feature phrasing that bolsters the corporations’ own reputations (“Adidas Group is fully committed to creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics,” etc) they even open the door for FIFA to transcend its self-created image problem (“FIFA must now seize the opportunity.”)
That, folks, is how you take thousands of slave-labor deaths and make lemonade.