Baku, October 3, AZERTAC
Sepp Blatter’s lameduck FIFA presidency until the election next February was looking increasingly untenable on Friday night as world football’s biggest sponsors urged him to go immediately, dailymail informs.
Heavyweight backers McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Budweiser and VISA making such demands for the first time puts added pressure on Blatter.
The 79-year-old found himself under criminal proceedings from the Swiss Attorney General’s office a week ago over a £1.35million payment to UEFA chief Michel Platini and a TV rights deal with the disgraced former FIFA executive Jack Warner. Blatter denies wrongdoing.
His immediate response was to insist that he is staying in office until February but the action of such high-profile sponsors will crank up the pressure to an intense degree.
Football Association chairman Greg Dyke believes this should now be the end of the road for Blatter.
Dyke said: ‘I think this is a game changer. It doesn’t matter what Mr Blatter says now, if the people who pay for FIFA want a change they will get a change.
'What is important is that it isn’t just about Mr Blatter standing down, it’s about making sure there is a comprehensive and effective reform programme. So for those of us who want fundamental change this is good news.’
Blatter has already announced he will be stepping down in February, but Coca-Cola said in a statement: ‘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 added: ‘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 Sepp Blatter to step down immediately so the reform process can proceed with the credibility that is needed.’
VISA, who have also called for his resignation, said: '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.'
Sponsors Hyundai, Adidas and Gazprom have not yet made any comment.