Sepp Blatter winning last week’s FIFA presidency election was the best thing for football because it has whet the appetite for reform according to NewFIFANow founder Jaimie Fuller.
Fuller last month launched the ‘Hypocrisy World Cup’ campaign and is pushing for FIFA reform by revealing the “slave-like” and “disgusting” conditions of migrants in Qatar employed to work on the 2022 World Cup infrastructure.
A recent graphic which went viral on social media showed there had been 1,200 migrant worker deaths in Qatar since earning hosting rights in December 2010.
Speaking exclusively to FourFourTwo, Fuller said the figure is far higher, but 28 of the 30 nations who have a Memorandum of Understanding with Qatar for the supply of labour had refused to release official data.
The Swiss-based Australian, who is the chairman of sportswear company SKINS, was sought out by former FFA head of corporate and public affairs Bonita Mersiades at a conference in Denmark in October 2013, where they hatched the NewFIFANow plan.
The campaign, where videos can be watched at officialnonsponsor.com, aims to publicly shame FIFA’s sponsors - based on their human rights standards - into acknowledging and pressuring football’s governing body to reform.
NewFIFANow’s initial campaigns had generated little to no response from FIFA’s sponsors, but inroads are now being made.
Last week, Coca Cola’s global workplace rights director agreed to a meeting, which Fuller hopes will be held in Doha with the company chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent.
Late last month, Visa also threatened to withdraw its sponsorship of FIFA, which Fuller labeled a “huge step”.
The chronology of the past fortnight’s developments, from the arrests of several FIFA officials, to Blatter’s re-appointment and subsequent resignation, have further fuelled the widespread public discontent towards FIFA.
In turn, the situation has heaped the pressure on the organisation’s sponsors and Fuller wanted to ensure that sentiment remained strong.
“Now it’s about being very intelligent about what the reform means,” Fuller told FourFourTwo.
“The last thing we can do is get a false sense of security because Sepp Blatter is gone. He hasn’t gone.
“The best thing that happened was Blatter winning the election on Friday, because if he’d lost, then the appetite for reform would be very different.
“There was a huge message to the world about how toxic and rancid FIFA is after everything that happened last Wednesday.”
Fuller said he felt Blatter was “buying time” by resigning and was critical of the timing of the extraordinary election which will be in seven to 10 months, well beyond the minimum four months under the FIFA constitution.
“All he said is he won’t be standing for election. He said four years ago he wouldn’t be standing,” Fuller said.
“I think he’s buying himself some time in this vain, forlorn hope that he can try and turn things around."
Fuller said the initial public reaction to the ‘Hypocrisy World Cup’ campaign, which includes work and videos from well-known investigative journalist Andrew Jennings had been huge.
“The sentiment is enormous,” he said. “I’ve seen some brand reports which show some enormous damage being done to those sponsors.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the first things Sepp Blatter said after he was elected was he was going to personally go and visit all of the sponsors.
“This is absolutely a soft underbelly for FIFA. Reform and change has been talked about for years.
“FIFA don’t give a flying f**k, Sepp Blatter doesn’t give a flying f**k. Now they do.”
As part of Fuller’s campaign, he travelled to Qatar where he was smuggled into one of the labour camps for migrant workers which he described as “hell on earth”.
The video shows feces overflowing in bathrooms, bug-infested and filthy kitchens, exposed pipes and drainage, overcrowded bedrooms and people with a "dead look in their eyes".
He said the workers are promised contracts which aren't fulfilled and aren't allowed to leave the country, working seven days a week, leading to numerous deaths, largely from heart attacks from the stifling heat and overloaded hours.
"It’s just the most vulnerable people in the world being used," he said. “The issue here is made all the more disgusting because we’re talking about the wealthiest country in the world.”
Fuller provided a call to action for people wanting to get involved.
“Go to the website, educate yourself through the films,” he said. “Mine is only 60 seconds, but it’s entertaining and informative.
“We’ve made available contact details for the CEOs and chairmen of the eight brands who sponsor FIFA. There’s a suggested letter, you can copy paste into your email.
“That goes direct to the CEO of Coca Cola, Muhtar Kent; the CEO of visa, Charles Scharf; the CEO of Adidas, Herbert Hainer. We need them to understand.
“This isn’t a boycott, but the boycott will be next. We don’t want to do that, but if you continue to duck your responsibility and obligation, then the next one is we’ll try to hurt you at the cash register.”
Videos and more information can be found at www.officialnonsponsor.comcomments