The under-fire president cancelled his planned appearance in Zurich as one of the governing body’s major official partners expressed their “profound” concern.
Beleaguered Fifa president Sepp Blatter cancelled his planned appearance at the Fifa Medical Conference on Thursday as calls for his resignation grow.
Blatter has remained steadfast following the arrests of several Fifa officials, labelling the incident “unfortunate” and vowing to “work vigorously within Fifa in order to root out any misconduct”.
Thursday’s speech in Zurich would have presented the first opportunity for the world’s press to quiz the 79-year-old since Wednesday’s arrests.
“President Blatter apologises for not being able to come today because of the turbulence you have probably followed in the media,” said Fifa’s chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak.
“He said he has to fulfil his duties in the management of the situation which is probably more important than to come to us, so he sends his sincere apologies.”
Blatter and Fifa were handed a further blow as major sponsors Visa expressed their concern at the indictments of 18 people with alleged bribes totalling more than $150 million.
“Our disappointment and concern with Fifa in light of today’s developments is profound. As a sponsor, we expect Fifa to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organisation,” read an official VISA statement.
“This starts with rebuilding a culture with strong ethical practices. Should Fifa fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.”
Visa became an official Fifa partner in 2007 and their current deal is set to run through World Cup 2022.
Fifa’s other major sponsors, Adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Budweiser, Hyundai and Gazprom, have all expressed similar sentiments in the wake of Wednesday’s events.
English Football Association (FA) chairman Greg Dyke has added his name to a growing list calling for Blatter’s resignation.
In addition to the 14 people indicted on Wednesday, five parties, including Warner’s sons Daryll and Daryan and former Concacaf general secretary Chuck Blazer, had already pleaded guilty to fraudulent activities.
Blatter is due to stand against Prince Ali bin al-Hussein on Friday, but Uefa called for the presidential elections to be postponed.