Dismiss the corrupt World Cup sponsors, don’t coddle them

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Dismiss the corrupt World Cup sponsors, don’t coddle them

Every day the World Cup gets closer, and the excitement builds.
And while we can’t wait for the action to start, the countless sponsors of this year’s World Cup may be even more excited. Even FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, which should be worrying about the players on the field, has expressed a personal interest in the sponsors.
Hyundai Motor intends to provide 1,252 official cars for the World Cup. The company's chairman, Chung Mong-koo, probably had planned to go to Germany himself to promote his company’s product, but he may have to watch the games behind bars after being charged with embezzlement and bribery.
That is, if his health holds up to the harsh conditions of a jail cell, designed especially for those bearing a high profile. As we have witnessed many times, corrupt South Korean chief executives tend to have mysterious sudden health problems once jailed. Many are then released for those reasons.
There is no verdict yet on the charges Mr. Chung faces, but already the company has tried to calm public sentiment by offering to donate 1 trillion won ($1.08 billion) to society.
Here, various interest groups argued that jailing Mr. Chung would be a bad thing for the company. Newspapers, sports organizations sponsored by Hyundai, and who knows who else had their say in the matter.
Amid that ballyhoo, Oliver Takahashi, a senior official with FIFA, sent a personal letter of concern to Hyundai about the situation, saying Hyundai’s pledge to supply cars for the World Cup was crucial and expressing hope that the situation would be resolved quickly.
This news was used widely by domestic newspapers here, along with other arguments, to create the impression that Mr. Chung needed to be given a break by authorities. Do I think that Chung Mong-joon, brother of the embattled Mr. Chung and also president of the Korea Football Association played a hand in this fishy letter? Hmmm.
The logic in FIFA’s letter is just complete nonsense. The world’s seventh-biggest car dealer can’t direct operations because their head is having a big headache?
This argument has been used by many company sympathizers, but I think it is totally absurd. So a CRIME is committed, but for the sake of the economy he has to be let off the hook? It happened many times in the past. That is why, even after the Asian economic crisis in 1997, we are still having companies that are not done with the old practices. That is one of the main reasons we are facing this crisis in the first place.
What the world's top soccer authority should have done instead would be to cross Hyundai from the sponsor list or at least show that corrupt companies would not be tolerated by reducing the number of cars used during the World Cup. But we know that money buys a lot of things, including moral values.
As it is, Hyundai cars will roll along in Germany's streets just because FIFA followed its own unofficial motto: Show me the money!
For an event that is spurred by passion, that is such a shame.

by Brian Lee
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