Roger Barker, director of corporate governance at the Institute of Directors, says Yes
Matters have come to a head at Fifa. The investigations and accusations that have been circulating for years have become charges and indictments. Sponsors have expressed concerns several times, but it is now time for those who pour millions into Fifa’s coffers every year to take a stand.
Its sponsors take pride in robust governance structures and commitment to ethics and transparency. They should demand the same of those they work with, and must use their influence to force through the necessary change. At the very least, companies have a duty to shareholders to address the reputational damage of giving money to an organisation mired in scandal, and seemingly unwilling to address its problems.
Several sponsors have expressed concerns and pressed Fifa for reform since the American and Swiss authorities swooped on Wednesday. If they do not see genuine change, and quickly, they must not rule out the option of pulling back their cash.
Sophie Devonshire, chief executive of The Caffeine Partnership, says No
Fifa’s sponsors can change the future of football with their actions. While the corporate brand of Fifa needs swift, dramatic reform, it has, at its heart, a truly fantastic product.
Fifa effectively owns and controls the rights to the world’s most popular sport. The corporate sponsors have an opportunity here to transform the leadership approach within Fifa, and to drive a change in culture which sees Fifa taking the power it has and ensuring it is consistently used for good.
Brands are judged by what they do and how people see them – not just what they say. But withdrawal should be the last resort. The sponsors should be driving change from within. Ultimately, the best result for everyone is if these terrible allegations turn into a transformed Fifa.
The sponsors have a role in driving Fifa to demonstrate that business, like football, can be played incredibly competitively to win, while still being played ethically.