Blatter under pressure as calls for reforms mount

Blatter, the 75-year-old Swiss who has run soccer's world governing body 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 on Wednesday.

English soccer's governing body (the 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 soccer.  Visa, another major sponsor, also expressed concern over the developments.

In the space of a few days, Qatar has been tainted by suggestions it bought the 2022 World Cup; the head of Asian soccer Mohamed bin Hammam and CONCACAF chief Jack Warner have been suspended over bribery allegations; and Bin Hammam withdrew from Wednesday's FIFA presidential race, leaving Blatter to run unopposed.

FIFA's general secretary Jerome Valcke has since said he had not meant to suggest Qatar had used bribes to get the World Cup, Qatar has flatly denied any wrongdoing, Bin Hammam has launched an appeal against his provisional suspension and Warner called the ethics committee a kangaroo court.

The only way Blatter will not be re-elected on Wednesday is if the FIFA Congress proposes and passes a motion to call off the vote with the support of 75 percent of voting delegates. That is unlikely to happen as while Blatter may not be able to connect with fans, he is highly skilled at talking to the only audience that really matters — the voting delegates at the Congress.

Warner in more trouble

Barred CONCACAF president Jack Warner was accused of breaching his suspension on Tuesday after reminding Caribbean Football Union members they should vote for incumbent Sepp Blatter in FIFA's presidential election.

Warner asked the members not to protest against his suspension during Wednesday's FIFA congress in Zurich.

"At our last meeting we agreed as a Union to support the incumbent Joseph Sepp Blatter in his quest to regain the Presidency," Warner wrote in a letter. "I wish to assure you nothing has changed -- our mandate was set then and despite it all we must fulfil it."
Warner's position is a surprising one given that he had called for FIFA members to "stop Blatter" on Sunday.

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