Two leading sponsors of the FIFA World Cup have called on Sepp Blatter to immediately resign as president of world football's governing body.

The calls from the soft drinks giant Coca-Cola and the international fast-food company McDonald's on Friday, come a week after Blatter was placed under criminal investigation by Swiss authorities for alleged financial wrongdoing at FIFA, which he has led since 1998.

"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," Coca-Cola said in a statement.
"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."
Meanwhile, McDonald's said: "The events of recent weeks have continued to diminish the reputation of FIFA and public confidence in its leadership."
It added that Blatter's resignation is in the best interest of FIFA, "so that the reform process can proceed with the credibility that is needed."
The 79-year-old Swiss, however, rejected the call to resign, according to his lawyer on Friday.

Women's role in football

Earlier this week, Blatter told FIFA staff he was determined to remain in power until February's emergency presidential election.

Blatter's own position has been weakened as lawyers oversee key decisions at scandal-battered FIFA and he waits to hear whether he will be suspended by the ethics committee.

Switzerland opens criminal case against FIFA's Blatter

Blatter did address a leadership issue earlier Friday in FIFA's in-house magazine - but not his own.

Blatter complained that quotas must be implemented to stop men dominating positions of power in football.

"Football continues to be dominated by men," Blatter wrote in FIFA Weekly. "It is our duty to change this. Women must feel that they have an equal chance of succeeding in football as their male counterparts.

"FIFA, the confederations and our member associations have to break the cycle that makes it so much easier for men to ascend to positions of responsibility. This is not just a moral duty."

Blatter said there is "compelling evidence that gender-balanced organisations make better decisions and produce better results".

There are currently no female contenders in the race to succeed Blatter in the February 26 election.

Source: Al Jazeera