FIFA and brand integrity: an idea

Great mark: shame
about the slogan ...
Even the most fervent football-agnostic must by now have spotted that all is not well in the wonderful world of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, otherwise known as FIFA. Indeed, a Google search of the terms FIFA + corruption yielded over 29 million hits.  This weblog has not been uniformly impressed with FIFA's intellectual property activities over the years (see eg "Fifa scandal: the sponsors awaken", here; "FIFA's unfair catenaccio on World Cup's IP", here; "Ferrero v FIFA (in the World Cup trade mark dispute) -- 1:0 says the German BGH", here; "Put those vuvuzelas away, here comes FIFA", here; "Pants off in Anti-Ambush Marketing Frenzy", here; "Ferrero 5 Fifa 0 -- but will there be a replay?", here; "World Cup 2018: a dilemma for some sponsors?", here; "Global IP: the British are (almost, sort of) best", here).

Did Nike just do it? The company is said to be
cooperating fully with the US authorities
The popularity of the product offered by FIFA -- football tournaments, recordings, memorabilia etc -- is so great that no amount of toxicity of the FIFA brand image appears capable of denting it.  Whether the same can be said for FIFA's major sponsors over the years, which include Nike, Coca-Cola, Visa and McDonalds, Gazprom, Hyandai, Kia and Adidas, remains to be seen.  Consumer brands such as Nike and Coca-Cola have more to gain from association with wholesome causes -- and more to lose from unwholesome ones -- than enterprises such as Gazprom whose clientele is unlikely to switch to another brand of fuel supplier on a whim or a matter of moral scruples.

"I know nothing ...!"
The current spate of arrests of FIFA dignitaries and officials for a range of corruption offences spanning some 20 twenty years, offences of which FIFA President Sepp ("I know nothing") Blatter denies all knowledge, set this Kat thinking.  Bribery and corruption appear to be endemic within FIFA, and indeed within much of the world within which we live.  Why not therefore come to terms with the inevitable?

A simple scheme would provide for the registration of all bribes and inducements received by FIFA office-holders and functionaries.  It would work as follows:
  • A centralised register of bribes would be administered, naturally, by FIFA itself;
  • Recipients would be allowed to retain the benefit of all bribes and inducements received, so long as they were registered within three months of being promised or received, whichever the earlier;
  • Required registration details would include the name of the donor, the organisation if any on behalf of which the bribe or inducement was made, the sum involved, the currency of payment and whether payment was made gross or net of tax deductions;
  • The objective to be secured by making the bribe or inducement should be declared, together with information concerning the making of bribes or inducements to other recipients in connection with the same objective, if known;
  • In the case of non-pecuniary inducements (holidays, hospitality, sexual favours etc), recipients would be required to provide either an estimate of their cash value or, where that should not be possible, an indication of personal gratification on a scale of 0 to 10;
  • It should be clearly stated whether the bribe or inducement is required to be refunded in the event that the objective to be achieved is not met (note: this does not apply to the non-pecuniary inducements listed above);
  • Recipients should state whether the bribe or inducement received is final in its effect or whether it may be superseded by a subsequent bribe or inducement.
This scheme would not only make the bidding for World Cup venues and other entitlements more transparent but would also open it up to more competitive bidding. In addition, recipients of bribes and inducements would no longer have to go around in an embarrassing state of denial, and everyone -- including FIFA Presidents -- would be taken, by virtue of the fact of registration, to have constructive notice of all amounts declared and the purposes for which they were given and received.

Further reading:
"The FIFA corporate sponsor corruption dashboard" on Quartz, here 
"Visa, Nike involved in FIFA corruption scandal 'brand wagon'", on DNA India, here
"Nike Confirms It’s ‘Cooperating’ in FIFA Corruption Inquiry", Brandchannel, here
2018 Fifa World Cup Russia here
FIFA and brand integrity: an idea FIFA and brand integrity: an idea Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, May 28, 2015 Rating: 5


  1. Not forgetting the Olympics, of course...

    Perhaps we could take a leaf out of the Chippendales' book - when the World Cup was staged in France, they staged a show in Paris for soccer widows, called "Les girls sans foot" (girls without football) - which is, by coincidence pronounced the same way as "Les girls s'en foutent" (the girls don't give a d**n)

  2. Am I the only person who took about 10 minutes to realise what the asterisked word was? I thought the French term was a little stronger, but perhaps the d word is on par with the f word in anonymous' country.


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