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By ESPN Staff

Emirates add voice to FIFA criticism

Airline giant Emirates have become the third of FIFA's key sponsors to express disappointment at the continuing controversy surrounding the world governing body.

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Coca-Cola and adidas both issued statements on Sunday revealing their concern about the ongoing crisis at the top of the game's administration.

Boutros Boutros, Emirates' divisional senior vice-president, corporate communications, said: "Emirates, like all football fans around the world, are disappointed with the issues that are currently surrounding the administration of this sport.

"Emirates' sponsorship of all FIFA tournaments, including the FIFA World Cup, aims to help promote football and ensure that it is accessible to the billions of football fans; something FIFA have managed to do extremely well in recent years.

"We hope that these issues will be resolved as soon as possible and the outcome will be in the interest of the game and sport in general.''

Fellow sponsors Sony and Hyundai-Kia Motor are keeping their distance from the row, though Visa also made their feeling known on Tuesday.

A Visa spokesperson said: "The current situation is clearly not good for the game and we ask that FIFA take all necessary steps to resolve the concerns that have been raised.''

Both Coca-Cola and fellow sponsors adidas appeared to stand by FIFA but not without also expressing concern.

A Coca-Cola spokesperson said: "The current allegations being raised are distressing and bad for the sport. We have every expectation that FIFA will resolve this situation in an expedient and thorough manner.''

An adidas spokesman said: "Adidas enjoys a long-term, close and successful partnership with FIFA that we are looking forward to continuing. Adidas will be an official sponsor of FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil.

"Having said that, the negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners.''

time when the body has rarely been in better financial shape.

Their most recent accounts for the four-year period up to and including the 2010 World Cup revealed revenues of USD 4 billion (currently £2.4 billion) and profits of $631 million (£382 million). Income from the key sponsors amounts to 26% of total revenue, around $1 billion.

Adidas have said they are committed to remaining as a sponsor until the 2014 World Cup and others will have firm agreements in place but any dissatisfaction could nevertheless have ramifications.

Sports consultant Stephen Dunham said: "With sponsors starting to make noises, that could potentially start to ring alarm bells within FIFA. These guys pay huge amounts of money for their products to be associated with football because of the global reach of the game.

"They will be wanting it taken new territories but they will want it done properly and sensibly. It could soon come to a point where they might think it potentially becomes damaging to their brand.

"You would have to look at what the contracts say in terms of get-out and break clauses and whether there was any scope to break a contract legally from what they have signed. But sponsors making noises will resonate with them because of the impact that will have with revenues.''


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