By Tariq Salloum – Thompson Rivers University 2L JD Student
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the universe’s largest spanning sporting organization with six confederations and 209 national associations, indeed the FIFA Empire stretches nearly across every corner of the globe and there is no sight of its overwhelming success slowing down anytime soon. However, not all is well in the empire, with charges pending against multiple senior level FIFA level officials for corruption in the United States and the five-time elected President Sepp Blatter facing corruptions charges in Switzerland, and the FIFA ethics board internally investigating its top members – it seems the sponsors have had enough.
As FIFA’s top officials find themselves strife with corruption allegations, major sponsors such as Coca Cola, McDonalds, Budweiser and Visa are done with their wait-and-see approach with FIFA’s top officials, each issuing statements within hours of each other voicing their disdain with FIFA’s top officials including the president, Darth Vade …err – Sepp Blatter. So the question becomes, can our world’s top capitalists do what our world’s top governments can’t do, mainly remove Seth Blatter and his inner circle from the helm of the world’s most beautiful game.
FIFA is estimated to make $177 million a year in marketing deals from top tier sponsors such as Visa, Adidas, Hyundai and Coca-Cola, all of which have recently signed eight year deals worth a cumulative total of $993 million just between these four global corporations. In 2014, a World Cup year, FIFA is estimated to have made $2.1 billion dollars in revenue. Indeed, with all the corporate money that FIFA may lose if its top sponsors live up to their threats and were to withdraw its sponsorship and support if Sepp Blatter was to stay in power is considerable. One would suspect that Sepp Blatter’s fate with FIFA had been sealed.
In the most recent developments, it seems as the arm twisting by the sponsors has worked at least in the interim. As FIFA’s ethics committee has decided to suspend President Seth Blatter and those in his inner circle for at least 90 days, with no details being released until their investigation is finalized due to Articles 41 and 42 of the FIFA code of ethics.
However, Blatter issued a statement through his lawyers saying he was “disappointed” the ethics committee had not followed its own code in allowing him an opportunity to be heard, and claimed the suspension was based on “a misunderstanding of the actions of the attorney general in Switzerland.”
Amidst the united global alliance demanding the resignation of the 79 year old, Blatter still remains defiant and why wouldn’t he be? Up until now he has faced no real consequences for his alleged corruption. In fact, soccer/football and FIFA continue to grow in popularity worldwide year in and year out with no end in sight. No matter what, it seems that the heads of FIFA and the law are going to collide sooner rather than later. Whether it be business law, criminal law, international law, or internal regulations; it’s all sports law at this point and fittingly it seems that the scandals surrounding FIFA are only going to be settled in an adverse arena – albeit a legal arena – nonetheless the score will be settled once and for all … eventually.