Adidas expressed concern about the corruption scandal that rocked Fifa a few days ago, saying that it wanted to remain a partner of the organization but that the row over alleged bribes was distressing for football and Fifa's partners. Adidas has paid about $250 million for its partnership with Fifa in the eight-year period from 2006 until 2014, encompassing three World Cups, along with many other events for women, junior players and beach soccer.
The latest row at Fifa erupted just a few days before the planned election for the presidency of the organization, which was meant to pit the incumbent Sepp Blatter against Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar. Bin Hammam and Jack Warner, a member of Fifa's executive committee, were both summoned to appear before Fifa's ethics committee, on allegations that Bin Hammam had offered money to Fifa delegates. The two counter-attacked, leading to the convocation of Blatter himself before the committee.
However, while the sitting president was cleared, Bin Hammam and Warner were both temporarily suspended from all activities in football organizations – paving the way for an acrimonious yet somewhat farcical election featuring only a single candidate, Blatter, who was re-elected for a fourth term until 2015, with 186 of the 203 votes cast. Led by England's Football Association, a few officials called for the election to be postponed, but the proposal was turned down by 172 to 17 votes.
Several of Fifa's leading sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Visa and Adidas, issued critical statements about the entire fiasco, which has tarnishing the reputation of Fifa and football. Fifa reportedly earned about $1.6 billion from its global sponsors in the four-year period up to 2010.
As part of the election, Blatter promised to introduce reforms for more transparency, particularly around the bidding process for countries to host the World Cup, which again caused controversy when Qatar, a tiny and hot country with little heritage in football but all the more oil money, was awarded the right to host the World Cup in 2022. The secretary general of Fifa, Jérôme Valcke, wrote in an e-mail that the right had been “bought.”
The decision to attribute the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was made by Fifa's executive committee at the same time as the choice to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia. Blatter admitted that it had been a mistake to issue two bids at the same time, which provided more opportunity for trading of votes. It was further suggested that, in the coming years, such decisions could involve all federations, instead of just the executive committee.
Blatter's promises of reform were greeted with widespread skepticism because, in his 13 years at the helm, Blatter consistently failed to bring any transparency to the murky workings of Fifa, which have long been criticized by reporters and the public.