but FIFA boss claims leaving now ‘would not be in the best interests of the organisation’
- Coca Cola and McDonald’s have both called for Sepp Blatter’s resignation
- Swiss authorities have announced a criminal investigation into Blatter
- Blatter released a statement vowing to cling onto his position within FIFA
- Credit card company Visa has also joined the calls for Blatter’s head
Three of FIFA’s biggest corporate sponsors McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Visa have called on Sepp Blatter to resign immediately after Swiss authorities launched a criminal investigation into the FIFA President.
But the 79-year-old Swiss said leaving now would not be in the ‘best interests’ of the organisation.
The three corporate giants accused Blatter of ‘tarnishing’ FIFA’s reputation and claimed that the organisation required ‘urgent reform’.
A spokesman for Coca-Cola said: ‘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 and Coca Cola have both called for FIFA President Sepp Blatter to stand down immediatley
Both major sponsors made their announcement after Swiss authorities announced plans to investigate Blatter
Blatter, right, is accused of giving UEFA President Michel Platini, left, a £1.35million ‘disloyal payment’
McDonald’s also said Blatter needed to go immediately. ‘The events of recent weeks have continued to diminish the reputation of FIFA and public confidence in its leadership.’
US credit card giant Visa became the third top FIFA sponsor to demand Sepp Blatter’s immediate resignation on Friday, following calls for the football chief to quit by Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.
A Visa spokesman 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.
However, Blatter’s lawyer released a statement rejecting the calls for his resignation.
Richard Cullen, who is representing the FIFA president said: ‘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.’
The 79-year-old Swiss told Fifa staff earlier this week he’s determined to remain in power until February’s emergency presidential election, but pressure from sponsors who fund the organisation could force him out before then.
Coca Cola said: ‘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.’
It is understood that Budweiser and VIsa have also called for Blatter’s resignation.
Former England Captain Gary LIneker took the opportunity to make fun of the beleaguered FIFA president
Blatter, pictured, released a statement claiming that his resignation would not be in FIFA’s ‘best interests’
Blatter’s own position has been weakened as lawyers oversee key decisions at scandal-battered Fifa and he waits to hear whether he will be suspended by the ethics committee.
Blatter did address a leadership issue earlier today in Fifa’s in-house magazine – but not his own.
Blatter complained that quotas must be implemented to stop men dominating positions of power in football.
He wrote: ‘Football continues to be dominated by men. It is our duty to change this. Women must feel that they have an equal chance of succeeding in football as their male counterparts.
‘Fifa, the confederations and our member associations have to break the cycle that makes it so much easier for men to ascend to positions of responsibility. This is not just a moral duty.’
Blatter said there is ‘compelling evidence that gender-balanced organisations make better decisions and produce better results’.
The next FIFA presidential elections are due to take place on February 26.
The Swiss attorney general’s office (OAG) last week opened criminal proceedings against Blatter saying he was suspected of making a ‘disloyal payment’ of £1.35million to Michael Platini.
A 2005 television rights contract which Blatter signed on behalf of FIFA with the Caribbean Football Union is also part of the investigation, the OAG said.
Blatter described Coca Cola as a ‘valuable sponsor’ but refused to accede to their resignation demand
Blatter, pictured, claimed he wanted to remain on as FIFA president until February despite the criminal probe
Blatter announced in June, following the indictment of 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives, that he would ‘give back his mandate’ at a special elective congress on February 26.
Earlier this week, FIFA and UEFA had to cancel their annual staff match due to the ongoing scandal.
The friendly game had been scheduled to take place in Nyon, home to European governing body UEFA and its president Michel Platini.
A FIFA spokesman said: ‘In a joint decision it was agreed to postpone the UEFA-FIFA challenge 2015, which had been scheduled for Friday, October 2, until further notice.’
On Tuesday, Swiss authorities said they were treating Platini as somewhere ‘between a witness and an accused person’ in a probe that was widened last week to include FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
Attorney General Michael Lauber told reporters he did not rule out searching the Nyon headquarters of UEFA as part of the investigation.
FIFA’s awarding of the 2018 and 2022 competitions to Russia and Qatar is one of the strands under scrutiny from U.S. and Swiss authorities investigating corruption in the organization – a worry for tournament sponsors such as McDonald’s Corp, Coca-Cola and Visa.
The scandal exploded in May, when 14 soccer officials and sports marketing executives were indicted on U.S. charges of racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud in relations to bribery schemes that dated back decades.
FIFA claimed it was assisting Swiss authorities with their probe.
In a statement, the governing body claimed: ‘Since May 27, 2015, FIFA has been cooperating with the Office of the Swiss Attorney General (OAG) and has complied with all requests for documents, data and other information. We will continue this level of cooperation throughout the investigation.
‘Today, (September 25) at the Home of FIFA, representatives from the Office of the Swiss Attorney General conducted interviews and gathered documents pursuant to its investigation. FIFA facilitated these interviews as part of our ongoing cooperation.
‘We will have no further comment on the matter as it is an active investigation.’
Source: Daily Mail