The calls for FIFA reform have come from far-reaching corners of the earth, and now they're coming from one of the more influential people on the planet.
Virgin Group founder and chairman Richard Branson has called for sweeping FIFA reform and for Sepp Blatter to step down amid the latest FIFA scandal in which nine organization executives and five others were implicated in a corruption indictment.
Branson wrote on his own blog:
Many have long expressed doubts and concern about the way in which World Cup hosts are chosen, a system apparently so rife with corruption that the legitimacy of nearly every recent and future World Cup bid is called into question. If FIFA can’t manage to reform its governance, limit the power (and impunity) of its senior officials, and introduce the kind of transparency we expect of any non-profit organisation, national associations should consider leaving. First signals are positive. I applaud David Gill of England’s FA for pledging to resign if Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s president, is re-elected tomorrow. I hope others will follow.
As the old adage goes, the fish rots from the head down. Even if Blatter had no knowledge of any of the crimes alleged yesterday by US authorities, he must step down now and get out of the way. Enough is enough. I don’t know of a business CEO still standing after presiding over a mess like this one.
I also hope that FIFA’s sponsors will reconsider their commitments beyond the typical statements of concern we are seeing today. Sponsorship money has played a major role in enabling and sustaining this corrupt system for decades, it seems. I couldn’t think of a greater risk to any brand than being described as complicit in what really looks like organised crime.
Blatter is up for a fifth term as FIFA president, and he is widely expected to be re-elected Friday in favor of current FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein despite the newest wave of dark clouds over the organization.