Fifa corruption: Sponsor Coca-Cola demands third-party reform

Fifa sponsor Coca-Cola has told world football’s governing body that it wants an independent third-party commission to oversee reform of the crisis-hit organisation, the BBC has learned.

On 9 July the American drinks giant formally requested that Fifa’s leadership support the idea.

It wants the commission to be overseen by what it described as “one or more eminent impartial leaders to manage the efforts necessary to help reform Fifa’s governance and its human rights requirements”.

In correspondence obtained by the BBC, Coca-Cola says: “We believe that establishing this independent commission will be the most credible way for Fifa to approach its reform process and is necessary to build back the trust it has lost.

“We are calling for this approach out of our deep commitment to ethics and human rights and in the interest of seeing Fifa succeed.”

The move will put pressure on Fifa’s outgoing president Sepp Blatter, who will discuss his preferred reform programme with the body’s executive committee on Monday.

Blatter is expected to propose a number of reforms designed to repair Fifa’s battered reputation.

These include term limits for members of the executive committee and the president, as well as full salary disclosure for senior officials.

However critics of Fifa have argued that it is so discredited that reform should be taken out of the body’s control, and they will be encouraged by Coca-Cola’s move.

In May, trade unions and campaign groups wrote to Fifa’s eight biggest commercial partners – Adidas, Gazprom, Hyundai, Kia, McDonald’s, Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Visa – asking them to speak out about the treatment of workers in Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup.

The working and housing conditions of migrant construction workers have been heavily criticised.

Soon after, Fifa was plunged into the biggest crisis in its history after twin criminal investigations in the US and Switzerland into allegations of corruption. That led to the arrest of senior football officials, and the resignation of Blatter.

Sharan Burrow of the International Trade Union Confederation said: “Coca-Cola sets the benchmark against corruption by supporting the call for an independent reform commission to rebuild Fifa.

“It’s now time for the other sponsors to take a stand against corruption and put the game back on track.

“Football and other sports carry the passions of billions around the world, and can effect real change and solidarity, and corruption has no place in this. The workers enslaved in Qatar need to know a Fifa that will demand fundamental labour rights of this nation.

“We back the leadership of Coca-Cola and call on the Fifa executive to do the right thing on Monday.

“An external reform commission led by a man like [former United Nations secretary-general] Kofi Annan, supported by men and women including sport leaders and players with similar integrity, can make the difference.”

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