Sponsors Coca-Cola and Adidas whack FIFA boss Sepp Blatter

That’s ‘whack’ in the sense of a Mafia hit, it’s going to be very hard for FIFA president Sepp Blatter to recover from the assault launched on him yesterday by Coca-Cola and Adidas, two of FIFA’s and world football’s biggest sponsors.

Coca-Cola said that the current state of FIFA, which organises World Cups, was “distressing” and said it expected football’s world governing body to sort itself out in an “expedient and thorough manner.”

Adidas, whose business depends on its expensive involvement with World Cups and the Olympics, said the current controversy was “not good for football or its partners.”

In corporate speak this is about as heavy as it gets, a threat to turn the money taps off.

75-year old Blatter has kept his job as head of FIFA because of his ability to drive the gravy train that is world football. But new evidence that Mohamed Bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Confederation, has been dispensing envelopes full of cash to FIFA delegates to buy the 2022 World Cup for Qatar, may be the end of Blatter as well as Hammam who has been suspended.

It’s not just a matter of corruption but of FIFA’s decision to award the World Cup to Qatar with or without envelopes full of dollars.. Qatar, which has no football tradition or infrastructure, enjoys temperatures of 50 degrees centigrade in the summer and so any World Cup held there would probably have to be moved to winter to take place at all.

This would be highly unpopular with just about everybody, not least the big club teams in Europe who own the players and would see the lucrative final stages of competitions from the Champion’s League downwards interrupted. Coke and Adidas are also intimately involved with these.

A World Cup without the world’s star players would hardly merit hundreds of millions of dollars of investment from Coke and Adidas.

So there will surely be a re-run of the vote to host the 2022 World Cup and it’s highly unlikely that Blatter will survive to oversee it.

Blatter may be able to thumb his nose at governments, including the British government line-up of prime minister David Cameron, Prince William and even David Beckham who pitched unavailingly against Russia for the 2018 tournament.

But taking on Coke and Adidas is a challenge of a different order entirely.

And what of the Brits? Will they try to assemble a new bid for 2022?

Be a shame not to really, provided Blatter is history by then.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.