BERLIN (Reuters) - Around 38 percent of Germans would consider switching from FIFA sponsors such as Adidas and Coca-Cola to alternative brands due to the corruption scandal engulfing soccer’s governing body, a survey published on Wednesday said.
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.
FIFA was thrown into turmoil in late May after 14 sports marketing executives and soccer officials were indicted by the United States on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges.
Six days later FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who was not charged, said he would give up the post which he had held since 1998.
Prophet, a marketing and brand consultancy whose clients include FIFA sponsors such as McDonalds and Visa, did not say if the survey was commissioned by a client or carried out for its own benefit.
It said its findings were based on an online survey asking to what extent respondents agreed with statements such as “I believe that Adidas, Coca Cola and co’s image has been hurt by their engagement with FIFA” and “I no longer buy FIFA sponsors’ products without a second thought but avoid them in favor of other brands in protest.”
Prophet consultant Tobias Baerschneider said the FIFA scandal could lead brands to rethink sponsorship deals and move to back smaller-scale regional competitions.
“That kind of sponsoring could be more sustainable and more interesting for some brands than the expensive and risky support of international big events,” Baerschneider said in a statement.
Visa is the only major FIFA sponsor to say it could end its partnership if the body does not quickly clean up its act, while firms like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have expressed concern and urged FIFA to transform itself.
Adidas has said it has no intention of ditching FIFA in the next few years as its current contract runs until 2030, but will consider how influential this kind of partnership is to its target consumer when it comes up for renewal.
Adidas chief Herbert Hainer told Focus magazine in an interview he had had countless conversations with FIFA executives over the scandal and said everybody had recognized the need to make the body more transparent and clamp down on bribery, money laundering and tax evasion.
Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by David Holmes