Zurich: FIFA president Sepp Blatter today faced angry demands to step down after US indictments and the dawn arrests of top officials engulfed world football in the biggest crisis yet of his 17-year reign. Stunned by the arrests of senior FIFA figures, top sponsors who pour millions into world football, including Coca-Cola, Adidas, McDonald’s and Visa, pressed the global body to clean itself up.
Visa said that unless FIFA rebuilds its culture with “strong ethical practices” at its heart, “we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship”.FIFA was adamant that despite the arrests early Wednesday of the seven officials in a luxury Zurich hotel, its annual congress and leadership vote would go ahead as planned this week. But leading figures in the global game, as well as newspapers around the world, said such a stand was untenable after US prosecutors said their investigation had unearthed the “World Cup of fraud”.
US authorities said nine football officials were among 14 people facing up to 20 years in jail if found guilty in the long-running corruption case involving more than 150 million in bribes.The US investigation said South African officials paid 10 million in bribes to host the 2010 tournament, while Swiss investigators raided FIFA’s Zurich headquarters as part of an investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
“Sepp Blatter has to go as FIFA president,” said Greg Dyke, chairman of the English Football Association, which lost out to Russia for the 2018 tournament amid allegations of bribery in the bidding process.”There is no way of rebuilding trust in FIFA while Sepp Blatter is still there… He either has to go through a resignation, or he has to be out-voted or we have to find a third way,” Dyke said.