FIFA sponsor Visa calls for independent reform board

NEW YORK: FIFA sponsor Visa Inc. called Thursday for an independent commission to be formed to clean up world soccer's scandal-ridden governing body.

The credit card company joined fellow sponsor Coca-Cola in asking for the commission to consist of "impartial leaders" to ensure the reforms are credible.

FIFA is reeling from the indictment of 14 people — including two now-ousted vice presidents who were arrested in Zurich — in an American investigation into alleged racketeering, bribery and money laundering in soccer.

Visa CEO Charles Scharf said on the company's quarterly earnings call Thursday that FIFA's responses to the scandal "are wholly inadequate and continue to show its lack of awareness of the seriousness of the changes which are needed."

He said the company believes no meaningful progress can be made under FIFA's existing leadership.

"We view the stewardship of our company, our brands and our clients with the utmost importance and try to hold ourselves to the highest standards," Scharf said. "We seek to partner with those who think and act like us. I don't believe that FIFA is living up to these standards."

In an emailed statement, FIFA said it values the input of its commercial affiliates as the organization cooperates with the investigations by US and Swiss authorities.

"FIFA's goal is to achieve the highest standards of governance and accountability for the international football community," said spokeswoman Delia Fischer.