Moscow (AFP) – FIFA’s tarnished image is badly hindering the search for sponsors for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Wednesday.
His comments came after the Financial Times reported that the corruption-tainted world football body was struggling to find new sponsors for the upcoming World Cup, with Russian companies being “the slowest to come on board”.
The difficulties in securing sponsors “are tied to the fact that there was a huge and big attack against FIFA”, Interfax news agency quoted the outspoken Mutko as saying.
“FIFA has been accused of corruption and the like, they have ruined themselves. The losses in terms of image are colossal.”
Mutko added the FT report had “wrongly interpreted” FIFA’s predicament.
“FIFA is running into difficulties not for the 2018 World Cup in Russia but in general,” Mutko said.
FIFA has been struggling to find major new sponsors since corruption scandals that ousted its head Sepp Blatter and dozens of other football officials erupted in 2015.
Sony and the airline Emirates quit as top-level sponsors after the 2014 World Cup and were not immediately replaced.
FIFA this month announced hefty financial losses for 2016, saying it had spent a large portion of its reserves in the past year.
Mutko, who also heads Russia’s football union, was barred last month from re-running for his seat at the FIFA Council in light of his position as deputy prime minister.
FIFA’s governance committee ruled that Mutko was ineligible to run based on its principles of “political neutrality and the prevention of any form of government interference”.
Russia is set to host the World Cup in 11 cities, including Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Sochi.
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