BERLIN (Reuters) - FIFA should set limits on the term and age of its future presidents as world soccer’s governing body seeks to reform after a corruption scandal, the chief executive of long-standing sponsor Adidas was quoted as saying on Thursday.
The comments by Herbert Hainer are the first concrete proposals for reform from the German sportswear company that has provided the World Cup match ball since 1970 and two years ago extended its partnership with FIFA until 2030.
Hainer also said the role of FIFA president should be more like that of a chief executive, overseen by a supervisory body, like in companies.
“It doesn’t help at all for just one person to go. You have to fundamentally change the organization,” Hainer said in an interview with the WirtschaftsWoche magazine released on Thursday ahead of publication.
The way that decisions are taken had to be changed as well as limiting the term and age of future presidents, he added. He did not specify a maximum age or recommend how long the term should be.
Adidas has faced criticism for declining to join other major sponsors like Visa and Coca-Cola in October when they demanded the immediate departure of FIFA President Sepp Blatter after Swiss authorities opened a criminal investigation into him. [L8N12714X]
Blatter, 79, who has been at the head of FIFA since 1998, lost his appeal on Wednesday against a provisional 90-day ban by the global soccer body’s ethics committee.
Sponsors like Visa and Coca-Cola have demanded that FIFA reform is driven by an independent, third-party commission of impartial experts.
However, Hainer reiterated his support for the existing reform commission, with which he had discussed his ideas.
“I can’t say what will come out in the end, but you will see that the structures will change significantly,” he said.
Buffeted by scandals over the last few years, FIFA was thrown into turmoil in May by the U.S. indictments of 14 sports marketing executives and soccer officials for alleged corruption.
Hainer, who has said the FIFA scandal is not hurting the company’s image, also told the magazine he expects soccer sales to grow by more than 10 percent next year, when France hosts the European championships.
Adidas said its sales of soccer products rose 19 percent in the third quarter, helped by the launch of new “ACE” and “X” soccer boots and kits for new partners Manchester United and Italian champions Juventus.
Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Victoria Bryan and Keith Weir