Blatter to resign as FIFA president over corruption scandal

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Sepp Blatter says he will resign as president of football’s governing body Fifa amid a corruption scandal.

In announcing his exit, the 79-year-old Swiss has called an extraordinary Fifa congress “as soon as possible” to elect a new president.

Blatter was re-elected last week, despite seven top Fifa officials being arrested two days before the vote as part of a US prosecution, but he said: “My mandate does not appear to be supported by everybody.”

Blatter, who has been Fifa president since 1998, said: “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.”

The extraordinary congress is expected to take place between December 2015 and March 2016.

Fifa was rocked last week by the arrests on charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering as part of a US prosecution that also indicted 14 people.

The latest allegations of corruption to emerge on Tuesday involved reports claiming Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke was responsible for an alleged $10m (£6m) payment of bribes over South Africa’s bid to host the 2010 World Cup.

A separate criminal investigation by Swiss authorities into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were allocated is also under way.

Blatter says he stood for re-election as he felt it was the “best option for football” but took his decision to resign in Fifa’s best interests.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Michel Platini, the president of European football’s governing body Uefa, had urged Blatter not to stand for re-election and to quit following the arrests in Switzerland.

“It was a difficult decision, a brave decision, and the right decision,” said Platini after Blatter stated his intention to step down.

The English Football Association has been vociferous in its criticism of Blatter.
“This is great news for football. It should have happened years ago,” FA chairman Greg Dyke said.

“The timetable doesn’t matter. There has to be a root-and-branch investigation of Fifa. It has all got to be transparent in the future.”

England lost out to Russia in the bidding for the 2018 World Cup and Simon Johnson, who led England’s 2018 bid, told BBC 5 live: “I want the full facts around the bidding to be known and published. I want there to be openness and transparency.

“If everybody won it because of a fair fight and everything was fair and objective and transparent then good, well done.

“If it wasn’t, if it was found there was improper behaviour in any way by any of the winning bidders then Fifa must have a look at whether they should re-open the process.

“I think 2018 will go ahead. The preliminary draw for the Russia World Cup is a few weeks away and it’s too late to change that, but 2022 is another matter.”

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