(WFI) Amid worldwide calls for his resignation, FIFA president Sepp Blatter gave in on Tuesday.
Sponsors, fans, fellow FIFA members and government officials were all outspoken about their desire for a change within the leadership of the world football federation following the corruption scandal announced by the U.S. Department of Justice last Wednesday.
IOC president Thomas Bach released a statement applauding the embattled president’s decision.
“We highly respect this decision of President Blatter to step down and to initiate the necessary reforms – and to make way for a new leadership of FIFA to drive these changes.”
Swiss authorities arrested several FIFA officials ahead of the 65th FIFA congress last week. Sepp Blatter was not among those named in the indictment, yet he has presided over FIFA amidst several corruption scandals over the past 17 years.
Following the arrests, FIFA’s top sponsors such as Adidas, Visa, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s all issued statements detailing their concern over the federation’s corrupt leadership. FIFA member federations such as UEFA threatened to boycott the 2018 World Cup.
Blatter’s decision to resign on Tuesday was particularly surprising given his re-election as FIFA president last Friday.
On Monday, the New York Times reported that the investigation by U.S. federal authorities had tied the trail of corruption to Blatter’s inner circle, with Blatter’s top lieutenant Jérôme Valcke reportedly transferring $10 million to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner. Some are pointing
to this development as the cause of Blatter’s sudden resignation.
Olympic gold medalist and chair of the 1999 Women’s World Cup organizing committee Donna de Varona also questions what put Blatter “over the edge.”
“He did the right thing for the sport… Perhaps he wanted to win this one and then resign on his watch… This will help the Women’s World Cup as his shadow will not loom over the tournament,” de Varona tells Around the Rings.
Andrew Jennings, best known for his investigative reporting on the FIFA and IOC corruption scandals and professed dislike of Blatter, compares Blatter’s reign to that of a crime boss.
“Gotti is gone. The gangsters seek to replace him with son of Gotti. It will not happen,” Jennings tells ATR.
Blatter won the mandate from the federation to rule another four years against sole opponent Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan. Prince Ali told CNN after Blatter’s resignation he believes Blatter has done the right thing.
“I think that it is the right move from Sepp Blatter, and I think we have to look to the future.”
Blatter will step down as the FIFA president once the FIFA congress elects a new president at an extraordinary FIFA congress, the date of which will be determined in the coming months.
By INSIDER Kevin Nutley
Your best source of news about the global football business is World Football INSIDER