McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and Budweiser have said FIFA president Sepp Blatter must go now, after criminal proceedings were opened against him last week by Swiss courts.
Greg Dyke, chairman of England’s Football Association, said the sponsors’ comments were a ‘game changer’.
A delighted Mr. Dyke said:
“It doesn’t matter what Mr Blatter says now. If the people who pay for FIFA want a change they will get a change. For those of us who want fundamental change, this is good news.”
How deeply and high does the stench of corruption in FIFA reach?
Despite the sponsors’ requests, Mr. Blatter, who has served as the 8th president of FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association) since June 1998, insists he will not resign.
“Every day that passes FIFA’s image and reputation continues to tarnish.” Resigning now would be “in the best interest of the game,” McDonald’s added.
In return for taking the World Cup trophy on a sponsored global tour, Coca-Cola pays out about $100 million every fours years.
Blatter accused of making huge disloyal payment
Swiss prosecutors are accusing Mr. Blatter of signing a contract they claim was ‘unfavorable to FIFA’, as well as making a ‘disloyal payment’ to Michel Platini, president of UEFA (Union of European Football Associations).
Mr. Blatter insists he did nothing wrong. He said the payment of £1.5m in 2011 made to Mr. Platini was ‘valid compensation and nothing more’. According to Mr. Platini, he was paid for being Mr. Blatter’s technical adviser from 1999 to 2002.
Mr. Platini wrote to UEFA members insisting that no wrongdoing took place.
Mr. Blatter has also been accused of handing a World Cup television contract to disgraced formed FIFA vice-president Jack Warner for way below market value.
Sponsors see Blatter as an ‘obstacle’
The 79-year-old issued a statement through his lawyers yesterday, saying that resigning now “would not be in the best interest of FIFA, nor would it advance the process of reform.”
Blatter is “an obstacle in the reform process,” AB InBev (Budweiser’s parent company) said. Visa added that Mr. Blatter’s resignation would be in “the best interest of FIFA and the sport.”
In May 2015, Mr. Blatter was elected as FIFA president for the 5th time. However, in the same year, seven FIFA officials were arrested at a five-star hotel in Zurich at the request of US authorities.
US prosecutors later indicted 14 former and current FIFA officials and associates on charges of corruption following a major FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) inquiry.
A few weeks ago Mr. Blatter announced that he would be resigning. However, his announcement was soon altered to “resigning, but not before February 2016.”
For the FIFA sponsors to come forward and make such public statements is unprecedented. Even during this year, with all the arrests that took place, they have stood back and kept quiet.
Reuters quoted Jaimie Fuller, co-founder of campaign group #NewFifaNow, said:
“The drastic nature of this call stresses the extreme problems faced by FIFA,and should show everybody how the sports governing body is teetering on the abyss.”
Video – FIFA sponsors want Blatter to quit immediately