AP News

Emirates wants FIFA changes before new sponsorship


LONDON (AP) — Emirates airlines wants evidence FIFA is eradicating corruption and the scandal-hit organization's public image is improving before renewing its sponsorship.

The Dubai-based carrier's $195 million, eight-year sponsorship of world soccer's governing body expires in 2014.

Emirates senior vice president Boutros Boutros said Friday the airline has yet to see enough progress since FIFA President Sepp Blatter instigated a reform drive to prevent a repeat of scandals that have damaged the credibility of the organization in recent years.

"So far they talk a lot about them, but we are yet to see," Boutros Boutros said. "They look serious about it and we are optimistic. We hope they will work on it and do what the public want ... we are waiting until after 2014 to evaluate."

Asked if Emirates will ensure FIFA is no longer perceived to be a tainted organization before agreeing on a new deal, Boutros responded: "Definitely."

"Our research is to see how people perceive our brand — how they perceive our relationship with them, how they look at it," Boutros said at Arsenal's ground in London after Emirates signed a $240 million sponsorship extension with the Premier League club.

FIFA's reputation was rocked by claims of bribery and vote-rigging in the presidential election campaign last year and the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests in December 2010.

"Blatter is working on cleaning the image of FIFA — they had unfortunate events and incidents and issues," Boutros said. "In one way, I am glad they were courageous enough to talk about it and discuss it. And they were courageous enough to announce they were taking measures.

"I am yet to see the outcome of these measures and we are waiting and watching."

Mark Pieth, one of Blatter's anti-corruption advisers, said this year that older elected officials were resisting the reform proposals and moves to dilute their power at FIFA.

A panel headed by Pieth has begun preparing a second round of reform proposals that FIFA members will vote on next May.

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Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris


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