Ultimately what might be the greatest agent for change at FIFA will be the money; the hundreds of millions that footballs’ governing body has persuaded and negotiated out of some of the world’s biggest business names in the form of advertising contracts, sponsorship deals, endorsements and partnerships.
Except that most of those names will run a mile to avoid their precious brands being polluted by the stain of wrongdoing.
Visa, Adidas, or Coca Cola have indicated their patience is all but over. Some critics increasingly complain that the sport has been hijacked by a secretive, unaccountable cabal.
“I think there is a good chance that we’ll see big companies who really care about their image actually think about moving their sponsorship elsewhere. So I think it won’t just be about renegotiation, I think the whole of football could really suffer from this,” said Forex.com’s Director of Research Kathleen Brooks.
Voices have been raised about the scale of corruption involved, for example, in Russia’s successful 2018 World Cup bid, and the following 2022 event in Qatar. Both are mired in controversy, not least the huge loss of life of foreign workers in Qatar’s building programme.
FIFA’s woes are prime material for satirists, too, so every hypocritical or perfidious aspect of its commercial partnerships can be mocked. Last September FIFA’s ructions became too much for giant sponsors Sony and Emirates airlines who walked away from the bad publicity.
Sepp Blatter made have made a lot of money for FIFA, but if he has cost the organisation its reputation it will have been a poor bargain.