Sponsors 'distressed' by Fifa corruption claims

Major sponsors Coca-Cola have described the ongoing controversy surrounding FIFA as "distressing and bad for the sport" as the saga rumbles on.

President Sepp Blatter was on the defensive last night at a news conference after another extraordinary day of revelations, claims and denials involving the world governing body's most senior officials.

Blatter appeared defiant and determined to press on with tomorrow's election, where he will now be unopposed, at the conference, which came shortly after FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke had confirmed that he sent an email suggesting the 2022 World Cup was "bought" - but insisted he was referring to Qatar using their "financial strength" to legitimately lobby for votes.

Mohamed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner, two of FIFA's most powerful men after Blatter, have been suspended on bribery charges - while a photograph of some of the cash alleged to have been paid to Caribbean officials emerged yesterday.

In the last month there have been allegations in the British Parliament that Qatar paid bribes for the World Cup, and from ex-Football Association chairman Lord Triesman that four other FIFA members asked for cash or favours from England's 2018 World Cup bid.

Asked about FIFA facing a crisis, Blatter said: "Crisis? What is a crisis? Football is not in a crisis."

Both Coca-Cola and fellow sponsors adidas appeared to stand by FIFA but not without also expressing concern.

A Coca-Cola spokesperson said: "The current allegations being raised are distressing and bad for the sport.

"We have every expectation that FIFA will resolve this situation in an expedient and thorough manner."

An adidas spokesman said: "Adidas enjoys a long-term, close and successful partnership with FIFA that we are looking forward to continuing.

"Adidas will be an official sponsor of FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil.

"Having said that, the negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners."

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