FIFA executive committee member Franz Beckenbauer tells Al Jazeera that football’s governing body is close to crisis and that president Sepp Blatter is feeling the pressure.
Speaking exclusively to our correspondent Lee Wellings in Zurich on Tuesday, the former World Cup winner with Germany defended Blatter’s actions, saying he was a “good president” and that he was protective of FIFA because “it is his baby.”
Blatter was due to stand unopposed for re-election to football’s top post on Wednesday.
But a war of words that erupted on Monday over the suspension of AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam – who stood down from his challenge to Blatter’s presidency – and CONCACAF president Jack Warner, was followed by further controversy on Tuesday.
Calls for FIFA to reform football’s governance intensified, with England’s Football Association urging the postponement of Wednesday’s election and heavyweight sponsors voicing their concerns.
Blatter, the 75-year-old Swiss who has run FIFA since 1998, has rejected talk of a crisis in the game and stands poised to win what he has said will be a final four-year term at FIFA’s Congress.
The English FA, which had announced it would abstain in protest at corruption allegations, called on other nations to support its bid to delay that vote and provide an opportunity for another candidate to stand.
The FA joined a chorus of discontent from fans, officials, governments and sponsors, after Blatter shrugged off recent criticism with a call of “Crisis? What crisis?” in a bad-tempered news conference on Monday.
Emirates airline became the latest of FIFA’s top-tier sponsors, known as FIFA partners, to express disquiet, saying it was “disappointed with the issues that are currently surrounding the administration of the sport”.
Earlier, Coca-Cola said the allegations of corruption were “distressing and bad for the sport”. German sportswear maker Adidas also said the controversy had hurt football.