Fifa president Sepp Blatter skips third public appearance as sponsors threaten future after corruption arrests

Visa says it will 'reassess its sponsorship' if changes are not made

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The Independent Online

Fifa President Sepp Blatter has pulled out of a third scheduled public appearance since the arrest of seven Fifa executives at their Zurich hotel yesterday morning.

Mr Blatter was supposed to speak at the opening of the second session of Fifa’s Medical Conference at Zurich’s Hallenstadion this morning, but will not be attending for what his spokesperson called “obvious reasons.”

Fifa’s President is no stranger to crisis in his seventeen embattled years as head of football’s global governing body. That he should turn down the opportunity to publicly defend himself is almost unheard of, confirming what is already known – that this is by far the most serious scandal in the organisation’s history.

Live blog: Fifa corruption investigation

Yesterday he was expected to appear at meetings of the Fifa’s African and South American Federations but was not there. Before yesterday’s stunning developments, both federations had pledged vociferous support to Mr Blatter in Friday’s Presidential elections, which Fifa have so far indicated it has no plans to postpone.

Meanwhile, Visa has issued the strongest statement by a Fifa sponsor, calling the developments "profound" and incidating that "unless real changes are made we will reassess our sponsorship."

As an American financial services firm, at a time when Fifa officials are being actively pursued by the American FBI and IRS, Visa will find the the developments acutely embarrassing.

South American football officials are among the most tainted by the indictments by the US Department of Justice, which also claim the South African government pledged to pay Jack Warner, the disgraced Trinidadian former football chief $10m. It has denied the allegations.