FIFA sponsor Adidas concerned over Qatar World Cup corruption claims

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - In a rare comment on FIFA issues by a World Cup sponsor, Adidas said it was concerned about renewed allegations of corruption.

''The negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners,'' the German company said in a statement.

The World Cup ball provider spoke out following renewed claims of financial wrongdoing linked to Qatari former FIFA board member Mohamed bin Hammam and his country's successful 2022 World Cup hosting bid. The Sunday Times has published claims in a second week of reports drawn from Bin Hammam's emails and documents, which previously alleged he paid millions of dollars to buy support from African football officials.

The newspaper said the former Asian football leader arranged government-level talks for Thailand's FIFA executive Worawi Makudi - his longtime ally on FIFA's executive committee, and a World Cup voter - to discuss a natural gas sale which was ''potentially worth tens of millions of dollars to Thailand.''

Adidas said it is ''confident that the matter is being dealt with as a priority'' by FIFA's ethics committee, which is investigating the 2018-2022 hosting contests. Russia won the 2018 hosting rights.

FIFA ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia has said he will close the information-gathering phase of his investigation on Monday. He should update FIFA's 209 member countries on his work on Wednesday at their annual congress in Sao Paulo. Sponsors rarely comment on FIFA issues, and Adidas is the longest-standing World Cup partner. Adidas joined FIFA for the 1970 World Cup and recently renewed for four more tournaments through 2030.

''Adidas enjoys a long-term and successful partnership with FIFA that we are looking forward to continue,'' the firm said.

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