ZURICH, Switzerland, Oct. 2 (UPI) — Coca-Cola is one of world football’s biggest sponsors, having attached its brand to every World Cup since 1950. On Friday, the corporate behemoth called on Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s embattled president, to step down.
Blatter’s attorney responded quickly, saying that he would not resign. The attorney said “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.”
McDonald’s and Visa, two huge sponsors, joined Coca-Cola in calling for Blatter’s resignation Friday.
“FIFA needs comprehensive and urgent reform, and that can only be accomplished through a truly independent approach,” the Coca-Cola company wrote in a released statement. “Every day that passes FIFA’s image and reputation continues to tarnish.”
For decades, FIFA has been the target of critics and corruption charges. But the world’s largest football organization has come under increasing attacks since last summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
Misgivings about nature of construction contracts and ticket sales in Brazil, as well as the awarding of both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup to Russia and Qatar, respectively, have ramped up pressure on FIFA and its leaders. Criminal prosecutors in Switzerland and the United States are pursuing corruption charges against Blatter for receiving millions of dollars in kickbacks.
McDonald’s joined Coca-Cola in calling for Blatter’s resignation, saying his departure would be “in the best interest of the game.”
Coca-Cola has been been publicly critical of FIFA for several months; in May, the company called on the organization to get its house in order, pronto. And in November of last year, Coca-Cola execs criticized FIFA’s ability to police itself.
“Anything that detracts from the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup is a concern to us,” the company said. “The current conflicting perspectives regarding the investigation are disappointing.”