FIFA says corruption crisis hinders search for new sponsors

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) The FIFA corruption crisis is hurting its search for new World Cup sponsors.

Targeting almost $6 billion in revenue from the 2018 tournament, FIFA has not signed any new sponsors since the previous World Cup finished last year in Brazil.

''Definitely the current situation does not help to finalize any new agreement. That is a fact,'' FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said Friday ahead of this weekend's qualifying draw, the first big event for host Russia.

Valcke said no major deals would be completed until FIFA's future is clearer - after Sepp Blatter is replaced as president next year.

''I'm sure until the (presidential) election, until the 26th of February, there will not be major announcements,'' Valcke said.

Current sponsors will be invited to a briefing next month with FIFA lawyers and marketing officials, Valcke said.

Valcke spoke at a news conference hours after Visa said FIFA's responses to the recent crisis were ''wholly inadequate.''

''We believe no meaningful progress can be made under FIFA's existing leadership,'' the United States-based credit card company said Thursday.

Long-time FIFA backer Coca-Cola and second-tier sponsor McDonalds have also broken ranks from their traditional loyalty to FIFA by criticizing its handling of bribery allegations that led to soccer officials being indicted in the United States in May.

Blatter and Valcke are expected targets in the U.S. Department of Justice's case.

FIFA's slate of current World Cup sponsors is looking thin as its seeks to fill 34 available slots for two-tournament packages taking in the 2018 event in Russia and the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

Only seven of 14 available positions in the top two categories have been filled, and none of the 20 slots in a new regional category designed to increase revenue from the 2010-2014 tournament cycle.

FIFA earned $1.63 billion in marketing revenue tied to the 2014 tournament in Brazil. Its total ''event-related revenue'' for 2011-14 was more than $5.1 billion, the governing body's accounts showed in March.