Sepp Blatter: Coca-Cola among sponsors saying Fifa boss must go

Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter has been president of Fifa since 1998

Fifa president Sepp Blatter will not resign despite major sponsors Coca-Cola, Visa, Budweiser and McDonald's calling for him to go immediately.

The four each issued statements saying Blatter should quit after Swiss criminal proceedings were opened against him last week.

Coca-Cola took the first step, saying: "Every day that passes Fifa's image and reputation continues to tarnish."

McDonald's said Blatter going would be "in the best interest of the game".

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The 79-year-old is accused by Swiss prosecutors of signing a contract that was "unfavourable to Fifa" and making a "disloyal payment" to Uefa president Michel Platini, but denies any wrongdoing.

In a statement released through his lawyers on Friday, Blatter said resigning now "would not be in the best interest of Fifa, nor would it advance the process of reform".

Budweiser's parent company, AB InBev, said it considered Blatter "to be an obstacle in the reform process", while Visa said it would be in "the best interests of Fifa and the sport" for the Swiss to resign immediately.

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke described Friday's developments as a "game-changer".

He added: "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."

BBC sports editor Dan Roan
"The dramatic and co-ordinated intervention of these powerful US sponsors - including one of Fifa's oldest partners, Coca-Cola - heaps yet more pressure on Sepp Blatter, and adds to the sense of chaos that now surrounds world football's governing body.
"However, some will ask whether or not these corporations are prepared to back up their words with actions. Will they actually withdraw their sponsorship if Blatter continues to defy them? With the threat of rival companies taking their place, many suspect they will not. It is also highly unlikely that Fifa's other non-US sponsors - Hyundai/Kia, Gazprom and Adidas - will join the demands for him to quit immediately.
"There is no easy solution here for Fifa. If Blatter was finally forced out, next in line to take over is Fifa senior vice-president Issa Hayatou, a man who in 2011 was reprimanded by the IOC over alleged bribes. The calls for a fully independent, external reform commission get louder every day."

Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term as president of world football's governing body in May, but the election was overshadowed when seven Fifa officials were arrested in dawn raids at a five-star Zurich hotel at the request of the United States.

The US later indicted 14 current and former Fifa officials and associates on charges of "rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted" corruption following a major inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Blatter then announced he would be stepping down as president, but not until February 2016.

On Monday, Blatter said through lawyers he would not resign before then, despite criminal proceedings being opened against him.

He has said the 2011 £1.5m payment made to Platini, the head of European football's governing body, was "valid compensation and nothing more".

Platini, 60, has said he received the payment for work as Blatter's technical advisor between 1999 and 2002 and has written a letter to Uefa members denying any wrongdoing.

Who are Fifa's partners and sponsors?
Adidas: German sports clothing, footwear and accessories corporation
Budweiser: American pale lager produced by Anheuser-Busch InBev
Coca-Cola: American multinational beverage corporation
Gazprom: Russian global energy company
Hyundai: South Korean multinational automotive manufacturer
McDonald's: World's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants founded in United States
Visa: American multinational financial services company

The contract described by Swiss prosecutors as "unfavourable to Fifa" is thought to refer to a 2005 TV rights deal between Fifa and Jack Warner, the former president of Concacaf, the governing body of football in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

According to an investigation by Swiss broadcaster SRF in September, the deal allegedly resulted in a multi-million pound profit for Warner's company.

Meanwhile, a separate Swiss investigation is looking into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which will be held in Russia and Qatar respectively.

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