Pressure mounts on Blatter as sponsors request he steps down

Three of Fifa’s longest-serving sponsors Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa have called for Sepp Blatter to immediately step down from his role as president.

Swiss authorities have begun criminal proceedings against the 79-year-old over allegations of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation, though Blatter has refused to do so after he maintained that he has “done nothing illegal”.

“Every day that passes, the image and reputation of Fifa continues to tarnish,” Coca-Cola said in a statement.

“Fifa needs comprehensive and urgent reform, and that can only be accomplished through a truly independent approach.

“[Blatter stepping down] would allow a credible and sustainable reform process to begin [and help the organisation] win back the trust of all who love the sport.”

A separate statement from McDonald’s read: “The events of recent weeks have continued to diminish the reputation of Fifa 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.”

A statement from Visa read: “As we previously said, we believe two things need to happen to ensure credible reform. First, an independent, third-party commission led by one or more impartial leaders is critical to formulate reforms.

“Second, 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.”

Follow the statements from Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa, Blatter’s United States-based lawyer Richard Cullen 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.”

Fifa recently suspended secretary general Jerome Valcke amid allegations that he tried to profit from inflated World Cup ticket prices,

Meanwhile, Jack Warner, one of several past and present Fifa officials indicted in an FBI investigation in May, has been banned from football-related activities for life.

Current Uefa president Michel Platini and Prince Ali bin Hussein, who lost to Blatter in the 2015 election, are seen as the frontrunners to replace him when elections are held in February 2016, though Brazil legend Zico is also in the race.