Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Visa and Budweiser have called for Sepp Blatter to step down immediately as Fifa president in order to allow the beleaguered organisation to restore public confidence in its leadership. Blatter, who is due to stand down in February 2016 after 17 years at the helm of the international football governing body, is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation.
"Every day that passes Fifa's image and reputation continues to tarnish," American drinks company Coca-Cola said in a statement on Friday (2 October). "Fifa needs comprehensive and urgent reform, and that can only be accomplished through a truly independent approach."
Another sponsor, fast-food giant McDonald's, said recent events have diminished Fifa's reputation 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," it said.
Visa also called for Blatter to resign immediately, while Budweiser owners Anheuser-Busch InBev said he should leave as they "believe his continued presence to be an obstacle in the reform process".
'Mr Blatter respectfully disagrees'
Despite the calls for his resignation, a lawyer for the Fifa president released a statement on Friday declaring that "it would not be in the best interest of Fifa" for him to leave. "While Coca-Cola is a valued sponsor of Fifa, Mr Blatter respectfully disagrees with its position and believes firmly that his leaving office would not be in the best interest of Fifa nor would it advance the process for reform and therefore he will not resign," it said.
The 79-year-old Swiss was re-elected in May, but the vote was overshadowed by allegations of deep rooted corruption in the organisation and the arrests of several Fifa officials. Blatter is accused of making a "disloyal payment" to Uefa president Michel Platini as well "criminal mismanagement", but denies any wrongdoing.