- In a Tuesday press conference, FIFA president Sepp Blatter surprisingly announced that he will resign in the wake of the soccer governing body’s corruption scandal.
- Blatter was not charged in either of the criminal investigations opened into FIFA activities last week, and subsequently won reelection to a fifth term as president.
- Critics have accused Blatter of corruption for years. Earlier Tuesday, it was revealed that authorities believe Blatter’s top deputy Jérôme Valcke handled $10 million in bribe money.
- In his resignation speech, Blatter admitted no wrongdoing, and says he’s resigned for the good of the sport.
- FIFA will elect a new president to replace Blatter sometime between December 2015 and March 2016.
Why longtime FIFA president Sepp Blatter stepped down
Though Sepp Blatter easily won reelection to a fifth term as FIFA’s president last week, he’s made the very surprising decision to resign just days later.
In a short press conference announcing the move, he made no admission of wrongdoing, but acknowledged his critics — saying that the governing body would focus on reform to prevent future corruption, and that many felt he was not the right person to lead the change.
“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,” Blatter said.
He also announced a few reforms aimed at curbing corruption, such as term limits for FIFA president and integrity checks for all future FIFA executive committee members. A Swiss investigation is looking at accusations that these members took bribes during the process of awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively.
Meanwhile, a US-led investigation concerns bribes solicited by other FIFA officials in exchange for broadcast rights to the World Cup and other soccer tournaments. The Department of Justice indicted seven FIFA officials and several other sports marketing executives last week, and reportedly turned up evidence that Jérôme Valcke — FIFA’s secretary general and Blatter’s top deputy — made wire transfers involving $10 million in bribe money. It’s possible this investigation could soon ensnare Blatter himself.
The next opportunity for a regularly scheduled presidential election would be at FIFA’s planned meeting in Mexico City in May 2016, but during his speech, Blatter said he’d try to arrange for a replacement election sooner, perhaps as soon as December 2015.
It’s unknown whether FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan — who’d challenged Blatter as a reformist candidate in the election last week — would run for president.