Sponsor Adidas concerned at FIFA corruption claims

The Associated Press
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German national soccer player Mesut Ozil is visible on the facade of a publisher's building at Alexanderplatz square inBerlin, Germany, Friday June 6, e 2014. Sportswear manufacturer Adidas has put up the advertisement on the entire facade of the building prior to the soccer World Cup tournament in Brazil. (AP Photo/dpa,Jens Kalaene)

SAO PAULO (AP) -- In a rare comment on FIFA issues by World Cup sponsors, Adidas said it was concerned about renewed allegations of corruption and Visa called for football's governing body to show strong ethics.

''The negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners,'' Adidas said in a statement.

The German company spoke out following renewed claims of financial wrongdoing linked to former FIFA board member Mohamed bin Hammam and Qatar's successful 2022 World Cup hosting bid.

The Sunday Times has published claims in a second week of reports drawn from Bin Hammam's emails and documents, which previously alleged he paid millions of dollars to buy support from African football officials.

The newspaper said the former Asian football leader arranged government-level talks for Thailand's FIFA executive Worawi Makudi - his longtime ally on FIFA's executive committee, and a World Cup voter - to discuss a natural gas sale which was ''potentially worth tens of millions of dollars to Thailand.''

Adidas said it is ''confident that the matter is being dealt with as a priority'' by FIFA's ethics committee.

The World Cup ball provider issued a similarly worded statement in June 2011 when FIFA President Sepp Blatter was re-elected unopposed after his Qatari opponent Bin Hammam was implicated in bribing voters.

FIFA ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia has said he will close the information-gathering phase of his investigation on Monday. He should update FIFA's 209 member countries on his work on Wednesday at their annual congress in Sao Paulo.

Sponsors rarely comment on FIFA issues, and Adidas is the longest-standing World Cup partner.

FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil said there was constant contact with commercial partners.

''Our sponsors have not requested anything that is not covered by the on-going investigation by the ethics committee,'' Weil said in a statement.

Top-tier FIFA sponsors pay on average more than $100 million each over four years to be linked to the World Cup.

Adidas joined FIFA for the 1970 World Cup and recently renewed for four more tournaments through 2030.

''Adidas enjoys a long-term and successful partnership with FIFA that we are looking forward to continue,'' the firm said.

Visa extend its World Cup sponsorship in January through the 2018 event in Russia and 2022.

''Our expectation remains that all of our partners maintain strong ethical standards and operate with transparency,'' the firm said in a statement.

Visa's signing with FIFA ahead of the 2008 World Cup cost football's governing body $90 million in a damages settlement with ousted sponsor Mastercard.

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