FIFA urged to scrap election
London - English football chiefs urged FIFA to scrap its presidential election on Tuesday as key sponsors voiced concern over the corruption-tainted governing body's tarnished image.
English FA chairperson David Bernstein said in a statement that Wednesday's election in Zurich needed to be postponed in order to allow a credible reform candidate to run against incumbent Sepp Blatter.
Blatter is set to be re-elected unopposed for a fourth term by FIFA's congress on Wednesday after the suspension of his election rival Mohamed bin Hammam pending investigation into bribery allegations.
But Bernstein said the mounting corruption allegations had prompted the FA to request for the postponement of the election "to give credibility to this process" and allow a "reforming candidate" to stand.
The FA also called for a "genuinely independent external party" to make recommendations for reform of FIFA's decision-making processes.
"This has been a very damaging time for the reputation of FIFA and therefore the whole of football," Bernstein said.
"To improve confidence in the way the game is governed at the very top, we believe these requests would be a positive step forward and the minimum that should take place."
In a potentially more significant development, three of FIFA's key commercial partners - soft drinks giant Coca-Cola, sports goods manufacturer Adidas and Emirates airlines spoke out about the various scandals engulfing the body.
"The current allegations being raised are distressing and bad for the sport," Coca-Cola spokesperson Petro Kacur said.
"We have every expectation that FIFA will resolve this situation in an expedient and thorough manner."
Adidas meanwhile said the "repeated accusations (of corruption) are good for neither the image of football nor FIFA itself."
A spokesman for Emirates, Boutros Boutros said the airline was "disappointed" by the issues surrounding FIFA.
Tuesday's developments followed the suspension of Bin Hammam and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner following allegations they offered bribes in the campaign to oust long-serving supremo Blatter.
The suspensions followed weeks of revelations which have alleged several other members of FIFA's executive committee were involved in corruption during the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
However embattled president Blatter adopted a defiant stance in a press conference before journalists at FIFA headquarters on Monday where he denied the organisation was in crisis.
"Crisis, what is a crisis?" Blatter said. "We are not in a crisis. We are only in some difficulties and these will be solved within the FIFA family.
Blatter also rejected suggestions that the vote for the 2022 World Cup - awarded to the oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar - should be held again.
"There is no issue for the World Cup in 2022," the 75-year-old Swiss said.
Meanwhile the first signs of protest by Asian delegates emerged as a senior Asian Football Confederation (AFC) official revealed representatives from "nine or 10" countries had already returned home.
"I can tell you that so far delegates from nine or 10 federations have gone home after arriving here," the official said in Zurich, declining to name the countries involved. "There is a deep sense of outrage amongst all of the delegates I have spoken to about the actions of the FIFA ethics committee."
Asian delegates declined to say whether they would stage a protest at the congress similar to their walkout in 1999, when they dramatically stormed out of a meeting in Los Angeles over World Cup places.
"But we are planning to make our voices heard," AFC vice-president Ganesh Thapa said.