Sony Calls for Investigation Into World Cup Bribery Allegations

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FIFA president Sepp Blatter oversaw the selection process for the 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cup.

Five of the six main sponsors of the FIFA World Cup have expressed concerns over the selection process that led to the surprise awarding of the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

TOKYO – Sony Corp., along with other major World Cup sponsors, is pressuring FIFA over the host-selection process that awarded the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

Sony, which has a sponsorship deal linked to the World Cup reported to be in the region of $300 million, called for FIFA to “appropriately investigate” the allegations.

“We continue to expect FIFA to adhere to its principles of integrity, ethics and fair play across all aspects of its operations,” Sony said in a statement.

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The World Cup has been a key part of Sony's promotional strategy for its ultra-high-definition 4K television sets.  

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Adidas, Coca-Cola, Visa, Hyundai, BP and Budweiser have also expressed concerns about the selection process, which has been dogged by allegations of bribery and backroom deals. Out of the main event sponsors, only Emirates airline, which is based in the UAE – near Qatar -- has kept quiet.

The allegations center around former FIFA vp Mohammed bin Hammam, who withdrew his bid for the presidency of soccer's world governing body amid allegations of corruption in that race. The current president, Sepp Blatter, who has been in office since 1998, has also been surrounded by rumors and allegations of corruption. 

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Britain's Sunday Times newspaper has been running a series of articles detailing millions of dollars in bribes, as well as trade deals, which secured votes for Qatar's surprise victory in 2010. The small Gulf state beat out competition from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States despite having little tradition of the game in the country — and summer temperatures that can top 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

FIFA is carrying out a $6 million internal investigation into the bidding process, with lawyer Michael Garcia overseeing proceedings. It is scheduled to report its findings next month.

The 2014 World Cup kicks off Thursday in Sao Paolo when host Brazil take on Croatia.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair