Big corporations can put heat on Sepp Blatter to clean up the game, writes Sam Wallace

At the World Cup finals in South Africa last year you could hardly move for the corporate messages that bombarded every level of your consciousness until you were waking in the middle of the night with the tune from the Coca-Cola television commercial playing in your head.

By the end of six weeks in South Africa, Wavin' Flag by K'Naan - the soundtrack to the ubiquitous Coke advert - was so ingrained in my psyche I thought I might need therapy to shift it.

The way the sponsors pitch themselves has changed. Advertising in football is no longer based exclusively around the famous players on the pitch, it targets the fan himself and his identity: his hopes, his fears, the car he drives and the beer he drinks. Not to mention the face paint and colourful wig without which no advertiser feels any representation of a supporter is complete.

What is it that absorbs most fans? It varies, but last week you did not have to be Don Draper to identify the subject on everyone's mind. Sepp Blatter's comments on racism in general, and specifically that racist abuse should be resolved with a handshake, were not just headlines. The story led the radio bulletins, the websites and the radio phone-ins. It trended for days on end. It pretty much pushed every button for a modern media news sensation.

For a couple of days Blatter wiped everything off the soccer agenda and everyone had a view.

Everyone, that is, apart from those Fifa partners.

While the rest of the country knew exactly what they thought about Blatter, these behemoths of modern consumerism said nothing.

Not quite nothing. When I contacted the major sponsors, their responses were written in the constipated doublespeak of PR people, terrified a word out of place would spark a media firestorm.

These six companies are the forces that could effect change at Fifa. If the sponsors were to add their voices to the calls for Blatter to go, they could apply infinitely more pressure than that exercised individually by the supporters to whom they sell cars, PlayStations and fizzy drinks.

The commercialisation of soccer is here to stay. It is how stadiums get built. It is easy to despise the corporate grip on football but one has to be realistic about what the game has become and these are multinational companies which provide employment and pay corporation taxes. But they were woefully out of touch with the mood last week.

Blattergate and the instantaneous reaction it drew from people, from supporters to high-profile players, was a prime example of how, in the modern age, these global corporations that want soccer's reflected glory can be so off the pace. They are so timid to say what they actually think that they say nothing at all.

The credibility of Blatter's regime is shot to bits. From the fallout from the ISL collapse to the vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup and on to his uncontested Fifa presidency election, the organisation has gone beyond parody. Or, as Rio Ferdinand put it, Fifa has become "sitcom material".

In Brazil in 2014, will Fifa's partners ignore all this as they project more images of joyous supporters and 3D tellies? Or is someone going to tell them that, in the current climate, they stand out like a middle-aged divorcee at a Katy Perry gig? That if they want to reflect the fan experience - the phrase is unpleasant, but it is the language they understand - then they need to get with the programme and effect change.

When I rang adidas, the woman in the press office thanked me for "reaching out" and then, when I suggested we had a chat about Blatter, kept repeating to me that if I provided my email address she would send a statement.

With their Lionel Messi/Derrick Rose ads, adidas portray themselves as the preferred choice of the cool kids in the schoolyard. They should never be associated with anything as lame as ducking a straight question. One can only imagine that, in private, Fifa's global partners are saying exactly the same about Blatter as the rest of us. They should say the same in public and see what happens. I can guarantee they would like the reaction.

- Independent