Adidas’ global brand hasn’t suffered any damage as a result of its association with FIFA, even as several top international soccer officials are under investigation for corruption, the German apparel company’s chief executive Herbert Hainer said Thursday. His comments came weeks after Adidas declined to join other top corporate sponsors demanding the immediate resignation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who last month became the subject of a criminal probe in Switzerland.
Adidas is in “constant dialogue” with FIFA regarding its reform process and remains supportive of the organization’s ongoing efforts to address public concern, Hainer said, according to Reuters. Sales of soccer products increased by 19 percent in Adidas’ most recent fiscal quarter, the company has said, while third-quarter profit was $338 million, according to Bloomberg.
“The image of our products have never been better so I am definitely convinced that the consumers clearly differentiates between us as a company and the brand and what’s going on in FIFA,” Hainer said.
Adidas is among FIFA’s oldest and most prestigious corporate sponsors. The company has supplied game balls for the FIFA World Cup since 1970, and its current sponsorship agreement with FIFA stretches through the year 2030. FIFA earns more than $1 billion every four years from its corporate sponsors, the Guardian reported.
FIFA has dealt with unprecedented scrutiny since May, when nine current and former soccer executives were indicted as part of a U.S. Justice Department investigation into a multimillion-dollar bribery scandal regarding soccer media rights. Facing public backlash and calls from corporate sponsors for organization-wide change, FIFA created a reform committee last summer, and it will elect a new president next February.
Last month, Swiss authorities announced a criminal probe into Blatter’s activity amid allegations of “criminal mismanagement” of FIFA’s finances, with particular emphasis on a suspicious $2 million payment Blatter made in 2011 to Michel Platini, the head of the Union of European Football Associations. Both Blatter and Platini have denied wrongdoing.
Shortly after the Swiss investigation became public knowledge, FIFA’s main U.S.-based corporate sponsors – McDonald’s, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Visa and Coca-Cola – issued simultaneous demands for Blatter’s immediate resignation from FIFA. After an internal investigation, FIFA suspended Blatter and Platini for at least 90 days, but did not force either executive to leave office.
Rather than call for Blatter’s resignation, Adidas reiterated its support for “fundamental changes” to FIFA’s governance model.
“As pointed out several times already, FIFA must implement fundamental changes for the sake of football. Therefore, the initiated reform process must continue quickly and transparently,” Adidas said in a statement at the time.