And then it happened.
Four of FIFA’s main sponsors simultaneously announced Sepp Blatter – increasingly isolated and delusional – must stand down from his role as President of the world governing body – or else the companies will withdraw their sponsorship.
Coming from typically conservative corporate companies, the announcements are as significant as they are blunt. Some of the most powerful corporations in the world have decided Blatter is done. He must go. Their “brands” suffer from an association with Captain Blatter and his ship of crooks.
Coca-Cola: “For the benefit of the game the Coca-Cola company is calling for Fifa president Joseph Blatter to step down immediately so that a credible and sustainable reform process can begin in earnest.”
McDonald’s: “It would be in the best interest of the game for Fifa president Sepp Blatter to step down immediately so that the reform process can proceed with the credibility that is needed.”
Budweiser: “It would be appropriate for Mr Blatter to step down as we believe his continued presence to be an obstacle in the reform process.”
VISA: “We believe no meaningful reform can be made under FIFA’s existing leadership.”
The announcements serve as victories for pressure groups such as New FIFA Now which lobbied FIFA’s sponsors to take a stand against FIFA’s institutional corruption and rallied fans to tell the companies the sport’s grassroots supporters wanted reform.
Sensitive to their own brands and image, the sponsors were put under significant soft pressure – aided by Blatter and his cohort sinking deeper into the mud – that they had to act.
@matthew_hall @newfifanow reform 100% driven by fans & corporate visionaries like Jaimie Fuller not games leadership elite in national assns
— Remo Nogarotto (@RNogarotto) October 2, 2015
@RNogarotto @matthew_hall Not to mention some whistleblowers (inc your compatriot) & investigative journalists.
— New FIFA Now (@newfifanow) October 2, 2015
New FIFA Now’s velvet-gloved campaign cannot be understated – especially considering one of the organisation’s founders, the Australian Bonita Mersiades – was vilified and subjected to a smear campaign by FIFA staff for her unrelenting role in exposing the inherent awfulness practised by the so called “guardian” of the game.
A nod must also go to the 208 national associations – the members of the so-called football “family” – most of which did nothing as Blatter oversaw an organization the U.S. Department of Justice described as “like a mafia”.
As Mersiades wrote acknowledging the sponsor demands:
“We have lobbied the 209 FAs, with only three bothering to respond – it will be no surprise to most that Australia was not one of the three. We have lobbied the FIFA Executive Committee, with only two of them responding (again, not the Australian). We’ve talked to organised fans’ groups and players’ representatives as well as individual former players. We’ve lobbied the FIFA Presidential candidates. Importantly, we’ve been focussed on the sponsors.”
Mersiades also wrote: This is about being on the right side of history.
As it turns out, some are not.
Others, most definitely, are.