July 23, 2015 / 10:45 PM / 2 years ago

Visa joins Coke in call for independent body to reform FIFA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Visa Inc joined fellow FIFA sponsor Coca-Cola Co on Thursday in calling for an independent commission to reform the way that soccer’s governing body is run.

A Visa logo is seen during the International CTIA WIRELESS Conference & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Sean Gardner

The credit card company’s chief executive said on its quarterly earnings call that FIFA’s responses to corruption allegations were “wholly inadequate” and showed a lack of awareness of the need for change.

“We view the stewardship of our company, our brand and our clients with the utmost importance and try to hold ourselves to the highest standards,” CEO Charlie Scharf said on the call. “We seek to partner with those who think and act like us. I don’t believe that FIFA is living up to these standards.”

FIFA has been the subject of a series of allegations in the media and in books for many years. That came to a head in May when U.S. prosecutors indicted nine soccer officials, most of whom had FIFA positions, and five marketing and broadcasting company executives for a range of bribery-related offenses, including fraud, money laundering and racketeering.

Last week, two other sponsors, Coke and McDonald’s Corp, ratcheted up pressure on FIFA and made clear that they wanted change. A Coke spokeswoman said the soda maker had written to FIFA and asked it to support an independent commission for reforms.

Visa reiterated that call: “First, an independent, third-party commission led by one or more impartial leaders is critical to formulate reforms,” Scharf said. “Second, we believe no meaningful reform can be made under FIFA’s existing leadership.”

Reporting by Anjali Athavaley; Editing bySteve Orlofsky

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