FIFA sponsor McDonald's backs independent reform body-group

ZURICH: World Cup sponsor McDonald’s has joined Coca-Cola and Visa in urging FIFA to adopt an independent reform commission in response to the scandals that have plagued world football’s governing body.

The campaign group New FIFA Now on Thursday published an email from a McDonald's saying the fast food giant supports the creation of an independent body to deal with FIFA’s problems. “In regards to an independent reform commission, we do believe this is an important step in the greater reform that has to happen within FIFA,” McDonald’s vice-president of global media relations and issues management, Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem wrote in the email. Previously, McDonald’s had been critical of FIFA and urged change without specifically calling for an independent reform process.

“An independent commission would bring an appropriate level of credibility, transparency, and neutrality to the role, and ultimately provide sponsors and fans across the globe with the confidence that the reform effort is both meaningful and a step in the right direction,” wrote Sa Shekhem.

World soccer's governing body has been in crisis since May, when nine officials and five marketing executives were charged by the U.S. Justice Department with exploiting the sport for their own gain through bribes of more than $150 million over 24 years.

In the wake of the scandal, FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said he will stand down next February. Last month FIFA announced they were creating a Reform Task Force made up of ten representatives of its regional confederations and to be chaired by someone from outside of football.

That body, which has yet to have its membership announced, is scheduled to make its proposals to FIFA’s executive committee in late September.

Campaigners were critical of the move, saying only an entirely independent body could bring about effective change.

“We applaud McDonald’s for joining with Coca-Cola and Visa. They understand just how vital it is that reform of FIFA is independent of the deep vested interests surrounding the organisation and its personnel,” said New FIFA Now co-founder Jaimie Fuller.

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has said he will meet with the organisation’s sponsors during August.