Fifa presidency: How brands can stop the beautiful game turning sour

Andrew Mulholland
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Visa has used its position as one of its main sponsors to criticise Fifa for its behaviour (Source: Getty)

That there is something unsavoury at the top of world football would appear to be beyond doubt, it’s just that it seems most people are powerless to do anything about it, and the situation is rapidly falling into farce, with the likes of David Ginola and now Luis Figo threatening to make bids for the role of Fifa president.

But as I’ve said before, when the system seems incapable or unwilling to change, brands can bravely lead the way, and the new generation of "millennials" (those born after 1980) are ready to reward them with their loyalty (and that doesn't just come in the form of Facebook ‘Likes’).

If you don’t believe me, track the fortunes of companies like Unilever, which has shifted its focus to doing well by doing good, or more recently, the Natwest's "Fairer Banking" campaign. Both these institutions are using their brands to drive change for the better.

So no doubt, the likes of Sony and Emirates are hoping this is indeed the case, as they pull their support for Fifa in varying forms.

The question is, of course, is it better to drive change from within, or without? Visa for example, which remains a key sponsor, has been a vocal critic of the football governing body’s handling of the investigation into alleged corruption, which is in stark contrast to the silence from Castrol, Continental and Johnson & Johnson, which refused to comment as they decided not to renew their contracts.

To my mind, if you want to be a champion of change, you have to speak out. Consumers then know your position and are able to make an informed choice as a result.

So how best to save the beautiful game? Show the same passion for fair-play as the fans and footballers demand, and trust in the power of your brand to lead the way.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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