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FIFA sponsors demand 'independent oversight' of reforms

LONDON -- Five of FIFA's sponsors have written to the executive committee of football's scandal-battered governing body demanding "independent oversight" of the reform process.

Sponsors were originally promised places on the FIFA reform committee. But instead of being invited into meetings discussing the overhaul of the organization, they have only been offered seats on an advisory board which is yet to be appointed.

The sponsors' letter was sent from Adidas, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Visa and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch to FIFA's ruling body ahead of meetings this week.

The letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press, said it is "clear to us that such independent oversight needs to run long-term through the implementation and evolution of the reform process."

The reform committee was established following the indictment of football officials by American authorities.

The letter reads as follows:

"As sponsors and long-time supporters of football at every level, AB InBev, adidas, The Coca-Cola Company, McDonald's and Visa all want to see FIFA effectively resume its mission of developing the great sport of football around the world. We know that you, the Executive Committee members, will soon be considering a list of reforms aimed at strengthening FIFA's governance. We urge you to embrace positive changes and also recognize that this is just one step toward creating a credible future for FIFA.

"We want to emphasize to you the values and characteristics that we believe should be incorporated through the reforms. Transparency, accountability, respect for human rights, integrity, leadership and gender equality are crucial to the future of FIFA. Reforms can set the proper framework for these characteristics, but a cultural change is also needed. The culture change has to begin within FIFA and filter through to the Confederations and FIFA's Football Associations.

"We are aware of the positive work that the Reform Committee has been doing on governance reform, but we still believe any reforms should be subject to independent oversight. It has also become clear to us that such independent oversight needs to run long-term through the implementation and evolution of the reform process. We encourage you to become champions of this independent oversight as it will only enhance FIFA's credibility.

"Again, we want to stress that we are calling on you to embrace change, implement reforms, endorse a long-term independent oversight approach and initiate the cultural change because we all want to see football thrive.

"The actions you take with this first round of reform proposals will set the tone for the full Congress to get behind the reform process."

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