Investors concerned as Adidas declines to join Blatter exit call

Wed Oct 7, 2015 8:56am EDT
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By Jörn Poltz

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Investors in Adidas are increasingly worried that the FIFA corruption scandal risks tarnishing the German sportswear brand after the company declined to join other major sponsors and demand the immediate departure of President Sepp Blatter.

Coca-Cola Co, McDonald's, Visa and Budweiser-owner Anheuser-Busch InBev last week made a coordinated push for Blatter to quit after Swiss authorities opened a criminal investigation into him.

The 79-year-old Swiss national who has led FIFA for the past 17 years has denied any wrongdoing and said that he had no plans for an immediate resignation ahead of a scheduled February election to choose a successor.

Adidas, which has provided the World Cup match ball since 1970 and extended its partnership with FIFA until 2030 two years ago, stuck to earlier comments calling for FIFA to "implement fundamental changes for the sake of football."

Ingo Speich, fund manager at Union Investment, which owns a 0.75 percent stake in Adidas, is concerned.

"If you finance a corrupt system, the brand will suffer," Speich told Reuters. "This is a glaring risk for Adidas. Consumer boycotts, fines or pressure from regulators could be the result."

A survey in July showed that around 38 percent of Germans would consider switching from FIFA sponsors such as Adidas and Coca-Cola to alternative brands due to the scandal engulfing soccer's governing body.

The survey of 1,000 Germans by consultancy Prophet found that 78 percent thought companies should end their sponsorship of FIFA and instead invest more in local initiatives, with 45 percent saying the affair had hurt the sponsors' image.   Continued...

FIFA's logo is seen at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland October 3, 2015.  REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann