FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter has resigned amid a corruption scandal less than a week after he was re-elected by the football governing body.
Announcing his resignation, the Swiss 79 year-old said that he clearly did not have the support of everybody in his bid to lead FIFA for a further term.
He was re-elected as president last week, despite seven high profile officials being arrested at a dawn raid at a hotel in Switzerland as part of a US-led prosecution. Allegations include corruption and money laundering.
Blatter said, “I will organise extraordinary congress for a replacement for me as president. I will not stand. I am now free from the constraints of an election. I will be in a position to focus on profound reforms. For many years we have called for reforms. But these are not sufficient.”
“Fifa’s interests are dear to me. That’s why I have taken this decision. What counts most for me, is the institution of Fifa and football around the world.”
He was elected just last week for a further term as president after Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan withdrew from the presidency race after a first round of counting.
Welcoming the decision, Sunil Gulati, the president of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) said, “The announcement today by President Blatter represents an exceptional and immediate opportunity for positive change within Fifa.”
“I commend him for making a decision that puts Fifa and the sport we love above all other interests. This is the first of many steps towards real and meaningful reform within Fifa. Today is an occasion for optimism and belief for everyone who shares a passion for our game.”
Questions were raised as to the body’s ability in light of the accusations to maintain the confidence of the public at large.
Commenting on the arrests, US attorney general Loretta Lynch said, “They were expected to uphold the rules that keep soccer honest, and protect the integrity of the game. Instead, they corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and enrich themselves”, Lynch said.
Following the accusations, high-profile sponsors including Visa and Coca-Cola warned that unless substantial changes were made, they would consider withdrawing their support.
Visa said in a statement it expected Fifa “to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organisation. This starts with rebuilding a culture with strong ethical practices in order to restore the reputation of the games for fans everywhere”.
Image: AsianFC via Flickr