Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has called for Sepp Blatter to step down as Fifa president immediately after the world governing body saw four of its main sponsors turn against the leader of world football.
Blatter is due to resign in February when an “extraordinary congress” will be held in Zurich to elect a new Fifa president, but a number of leading sponsors last night called for Blatter to “step down immediately” in what appeared to be a pre-arranged announcement.
Coca-Cola, Visa, Budweiser and McDonald’s all released statement calling for Blatter to resign, and despite the 79-year-old Swiss releasing his own statement through his lawyer, Richard Cullen, that refused to bow to pressure to leave his post immediately, Dyke believes that his position is becoming ever more untenable.
Speaking to Press Association, Dyke said: "I think this is a game-changer. It doesn't matter what Mr Blatter says now - if the people who pay for Fifa want a change they will get a change.
"What is important is that it isn't just about Mr Blatter standing down - it's about making sure there is a comprehensive and effective reform programme. So for those of us who want fundamental change this is good news."
Coca-Cola became the first main sponsor to speak out over Blatter’s position. A statement released on Friday evening read: "For the benefit of the game, the Coca-Cola Company is calling for FIFA president Joseph Blatter to step down immediately so that a credible and sustainable reform process can begin in earnest.
"Every day that passes, the image and reputation of Fifa continues to tarnish. Fifa needs comprehensive and urgent reform, and that can only be accomplished through a truly independent approach."
McDonald’s soon followed, with their statement reading: "The events of recent weeks have continued to diminish the reputation of Fifa and public confidence in its leadership."
Visa added: "Given the events of the last week, it is clear it would be in the best interests of Fifa and the sport for Sepp Blatter to step down immediately." Budweiser’s producers AB InBev claimed that Blatter remained “an obstacle in the reform process” while he remained in charge of Fifa.
However, with Blatter already due to step down in February, the actions of the four key sponsors are being regarded as too little too late. Had the calls for Blatter to resign come earlier into his tenure, the sponsors would have been seen as trying to do something to address the reputation of the world governing body, but with Blatter already on his way out of Fifa some are suggesting that the statements are nothing more than a PR stunt that will fall on deaf ears.
The statements come a week after Blatter saw Swiss authorities open criminal proceedings against him. Blatter is suspected of criminal mismanagement or misappropriation over a TV rights deal that he signed in 2005 along with disgraced former Caribbean football president Jack Warner, who made a personal profit of £11m from the deal.
Blatter is also being investigated for a “disloyal payment” after current Uefa president and Fifa presidential hopeful Michel Platini received 2m Swiss Francs (£1.4m) in 2011 for work that the Frenchman is said to have completed for Fifa in the years spanning 1999 and 2002.
Blatter has protested his innocence and denied any wrong-doing through a statement released by Mr Cullen. The statement read: "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."Reuse content