FIFA president Sepp Blatter suddenly resigns amid corruption scandal
Embattled FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced his resignation in a brief press conference in Zurich, Switzerland on Tuesday, stunning the soccer world just five days after he’d handily won re-election for his fifth term in office.
The news arrived amidst the organization’s latest corruption scandal, less than a week after the U.S. Department of Justice and Swiss law enforcement officials unsealed a raft of corruption, fraud and money-laundering indictments against high-ranking officials in and around FIFA, soccer’s global governing body.
Blatter, 78, was not charged and was widely perceived to be insulated from the scandal thanks to his power and stature, especially after he was re-elected with a strong base of support, particularly among the developing world.
Swiss authorities said on Tuesday that he was not under their investigation, but DOJ officials specifically declined to exonerate him in a press briefing last week.
Blatter’s full speech transcript:
“I have been reflecting deeply about my presidency and about the forty years in which my life has been inextricably bound to FIFA and the great sport of football. I cherish FIFA more than anything and I want to do only what is best for FIFA and for football. I felt compelled to stand for re-election, as I believed that this was the best thing for the organisation. That election is over but FIFA’s challenges are not. FIFA needs a profound overhaul.
While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football – the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at FIFA. Therefore, I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective Congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as FIFA President until that election.
The next ordinary FIFA Congress will take place on 13 May 2016 in Mexico City. This would create unnecessary delay and I will urge the Executive Committee to organise an Extraordinary Congress for the election of my successor at the earliest opportunity. This will need to be done in line with FIFA’s statutes and we must allow enough time for the best candidates to present themselves and to campaign.
Since I shall not be a candidate, and am therefore now free from the constraints that elections inevitably impose, I shall be able to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts. For years, we have worked hard to put in place administrative reforms, but it is plain to me that while these must continue, they are not enough.
The Executive Committee includes representatives of confederations over whom we have no control, but for whose actions FIFA is held responsible. We need deep-rooted structural change. The size of the Executive Committee must be reduced and its members should be elected through the FIFA Congress. The integrity checks for all Executive Committee members must be organised centrally through FIFA and not through the confederations. We need term limits not only for the president but for all members of the Executive Committee.
I have fought for these changes before and, as everyone knows, my efforts have been blocked. This time, I will succeed.
I cannot do this alone. I have asked Domenico Scala to oversee the introduction andimplementation of these and other measures. Mr. Scala is the Independent Chairman of ourAudit and Compliance Committee elected by the FIFA Congress. He is also the Chairman of the ad hoc Electoral Committee and, as such, he will oversee the election of my successor. Mr. Scala enjoys the confidence of a wide range of constituents within and outside of FIFA and has all the knowledge and experience necessary to help tackle these major reforms.
It is my deep care for FIFA and its interests, which I hold very dear, that has led me to take this decision. I would like to thank those who have always supported me in a constructive and loyal manner as President of FIFA and who have done so much for the game that we all love. What matters to me more than anything is that when all of this is over, football is the winner.”