The pressure on FIFA president Sepp Blatter was turned up on Friday as three key sponsors of world football’s governing body called on him to step down.
Coca Cola and Visa – headline FIFA partners – as well as World Cup sponsor McDonald’s demanded Blatter immediately step down from a role he is set to relinquish regardless in February after the president last week had criminal proceedings opened against him by Swiss authorities on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation.
It is the latest hit FIFA has taken since nine of its officials were among 14 individuals indicted by the United States Department of Justice on charges of racketeering conspiracy and corruption.
With threats that the vast money that FIFA brings into the game via sponsorship could soon be withdrawn, we look at the statements released by sponsors and Blatter himself.
Coca Cola: “For the benefit of the game, The Coca-Cola Company is calling for FIFA President Joseph Blatter to step down immediately so that a credible and sustainable reform process can begin in earnest. Every day that passes, the image and reputation of FIFA continues to tarnish. FIFA needs comprehensive and urgent reform, and that can only be accomplished through a truly independent approach.”
McDonald’s: “The events of recent weeks have continued to diminish the reputation of FIFA and public confidence in its leadership. We believe it would be in the best interest of the game for FIFA President Sepp Blatter to step down immediately so that the reform process can proceed with the credibility that is needed.”
Visa: “As we’ve previously said, we believe two things need to happen to ensure credible reform. First, an independent, third-party commission led by one or more impartial leaders is critical to formulate reforms. Second, we believe no meaningful reform can be made under FIFA’s existing leadership. And given the events of last week, it’s clear it would be in the best interests of FIFA and the sport for Sepp Blatter to step down immediately.”
Blatter: “While Coca Cola is a valued sponsor of FIFA, Mr Blatter respectfully disagrees with its position and believes firmly that his leaving office now would not be in the best interest of FIFA nor would it advance the process of reform and therefore, he will not resign.”