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Pressure mounting for Sepp Blatter

May 28, 2015

There is growing turmoil ahead of the presidential election at football's world governing body following several arrests on corruption charges. Some of FIFA's biggest sponsors have demanded that it clean up its act.

FIFA Sepp Blatter Korruption Ermittlungen Verhaftungen Symbolbild
Image: Reuters/A. Wiegmann

A day after Europe woke up to the news that several officials with the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) had been arrested in Zurich, the organization was facing more pressure to make deep changes.

France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius on Thursday came out in favor of postponing an election scheduled for Friday, in which President Josef "Sepp" Blatter is set to seek a fifth four-year term.

"It's been several years that there have been accusations of corruption. It would make sense to take a bit of time, see what is true and not and then the authorities can adjudicate, but for now, it's giving a disastrous image," Fabius said in an interview with France Inter radio.

"I'm saying this on a personal level, but it would seem to make sense (to delay the vote)," Fabius added.

Earlier, his British counterpart, Philip Hammond stopped short of calling for the vote to be delayed but said he felt FIFA had somehow gone astray.

"There is something deeply wrong at the heart of FIFA and international football needs to reform, needs to get its act together," the British foreign secretary told public broadcaster BBC.

Corporate criticism

Perhaps most importantly though, several of FIFA's major sponsors have publicly rebuked soccer's world governing body over the corruption allegations.

"Our disappointment and concern with FIFA in light of today's (Wednesday) developments is profound," a statement released by credit card company VISA said, adding that it expected the governing body to implement "strong ethical practices."

"This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations. We expect FIFA to continue to address these issues thoroughly," the soft drink company Coca-Cola said.

"McDonald's takes matters of ethics and corruption very seriously," the US-based fast-food chain said. "We will continue to monitor the situation very closely."

"The Adidas group is fully committed to creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics and compliance, and we expect the same from our partners," the Germany-based sports equipment and attire company said.

Despite such rebukes and the fact that Europe's governing body, UEFA, had previously said it would oppose Blatter's re-election at Friday's vote at the FIFA Congress in Zurich, the 79-year-old Swiss national is widely expected to win a third term due to publicly expressed support from a majority of the organization's more than 200 members. The Congress is slated to open later on Thursday.

pfd/jil (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)