FIFA Drops the Ball with Crisis Communications

Soccer organization FIFA stumbled over its own media kerfuffle, providing fodder for late night hosts and endless entertainment for crisis communicators around the world. There’s a lesson to be learned from FIFA’s communications fail. Read on to see Digiday’s top five ways to avoid a crisis foul

“Don’t respond when a popular late night host skewers your internal machinery.”

Digiday points out that FIFA should have jumped on managing the story since a John Oliver story on Last Week Tonight, and quotes Matt Rizzetta, CEO of public relations agency N6A as saying: “FIFA is sitting on an asset [The World Cup] that has conjured up images of positive memories, passion and emotion among consumers across the world for generations.”

“Don’t do anything when your biggest sponsors rap you on the knuckles.”

Digiday criticizes FIFA for failing to respond to threats that Visa, Coca-Cola and other 2018 World Cup sponsors would drop their sponsorship if operations didn’t improve, and says that FIFA is also ignoring sponsor concern about human right violations allegations in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.

“If FIFA gets complacent and doesn’t implement an approach to managing sponsor relationships, valuable sponsorship revenues could be at risk over the long run,” said Rizzetta to Digiday.

“Quote an Onion article to defend yourself.”

Social media had a field day when ex-FIFA vice president Jack Warner tried to use an article from the Onion as evidence that the investigation into his corruption was flawed. Although the video has been pulled, as we all know, items on the Internet live forever.

“If one of your top officials is implicated, don’t fire him.”

Re-electing FIFA president Sepp Blatter was a crucial mistake, says Digiday. “Whether or not he’s been complicit in the scandal, the mass perception is that FIFA President Sepp Blatter has breached the trust of FIFA’s billions of consumers and customers across the world,” Rizzetta told Digiday. “‘The solution is to get rid of him — and there shouldn’t be a shortage of candidates,’ he said.”

After his re-election, Blatter then suddenly resigned on June 2.

“If your governance is called into question, become even less transparent.”

Don’t hide your process from customers, especially in times of scandal, says Digiday.

“There’s an completely transparent and objective system of checks and balances for the sporting part of all of FIFA’s competitions that have been effective for decades,” said Rizzetta to Digiday. “These same procedures should be applied to the business side of FIFA’s dealings, and then the organization will slowly be able to regain the trust of their consumers by providing transparency and objectiveness into their critical business decisions that have been plagued by ambiguity for ages.”


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