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What can FIFA teach us about trust?

Bryan Brennan
By Bryan Brennan on May 27, 2015 1:18:00 PM

What a morning for the sport of soccer (football for anyone reading this outside of the U.S). Seven high-ranking FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) officials, the game’s international governing body, were arrested this morning following an investigation led by the FBI into corruption inside of the organization.


Ironically, the FIFA officials arrested were attending the annual FIFA meeting to potentially re-elect Sepp Blatter (FIFA’s current, and only, president). Mr Blatter is use to accusations against him for corruption, with both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup subject to bid tampering allegations. Being a rampant sports fan, this news does not come as a shock, but more of right justice amid the rumors surrounding this organization for the past 20 years. That got me thinking; what are some takeaways from these series of events?

It’s easy to loop business ethics and morals into any discussion of corruption, however, in today’s trust economy, the trust between the organization and the customer defines the ethics and morals of any business. Customers buy and stick with a company that they trust. So how does a company truly build trust in today’s digital world? *Beware, soccer puns ahead*

  1. The First Team. Pretty self explanatory. A company draws in customers with a great product or service offering. But this is only the way into gain initial access to the customer’s circle of trust, a way to “open the door”.
  2. The Match Result. Once a company has opened the door for a great product, marketing that product or service offering in a positive view against competitors helps a customer commit to the purchase.  
  3. The Training Staff. Providing top level support and service for the product they have offered. No product is perfect, so being able to support and service the product truly bonds the trust relationship between customer and company.

FIFA offers one of the greatest products in the world, a collection of the world’s most accomplished soccer talent on one stage every 2 years (World Cup and European Championship). FIFA has done a fantastic job partnering with some of the largest global companies (adidas, Visa, Coca-Cola, Budweiser) to promote the product and get people to buy into the product. In fact, the World Cup is one of the largest televised and attended events with over 5 million people attending the Fan Fest in 2014. However, where FIFA has ultimately fallen short is in their support/service of the product.

Take the 2022 World Cup, scheduled to take place in Qatar. For those that are unaware, the World Cup normally takes place in July as to not have a conflict with the top talent’s club commitments during the fall/winter/spring months. The average temperature in Qatar during the month of July is 106℉. The FIFA officials arrested today were arrested on the charges of accepting bribes to place the event in this country, despite the dangerous playing conditions. Even though FIFA moved the event to winter ultimately, the move was widely viewed as a cover for the bribes they accepted to place the event in Qatar. The upcoming trials and hearings about the corruption will lead to people losing trust in the organization governing the world’s “beautiful game”.

The biggest takeaway from this series of events is the importance companies must put on servicing/supporting their product/service that they offer to customers. In 2013, 62% of people switched purchases to a different company because of the poor customer service they received. Customer service is more than just being available, it’s about actually resolving the current issue, but ensuring that your business is trying to support the product from future problems. Companies that invest in a best-in-class customer service strategy are companies that have the strong, trusting relationships with their clients. The importance of trust cannot be overlooked by companies today, as without it, companies can expect devastating, public consequences.

Follow me @bbren151

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