FIFA President Sepp Blatter says he will resign from his position amid corruption scandal

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Sepp Blatter

ZURICH –  FIFA President Sepp Blatter will step down as head of world soccer’s governing body but only after the organization’s executive committee organizes a fresh vote “for the election of my successor,” he said Tuesday.

Blatter did not say when the election would be held but said it should before the next World Congress in May 2016. It cannot be held for at least four months, according to FIFA rules, Domenico Scala, chiarman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, said.

“The expectation is that this could take place anytime from December of this year to March of next year,” he said.

Speaking in Zurich, Blatter said the reforms he has tried to implement over the years have not been enough.

“I felt compelled to stand for re-election, as I believed that this was the best thing for the organization. That election is over, but FIFA’s challenges are not. FIFA needs a profound overhaul,” he said.

He continued, “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.”

Michel Platini, president of UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, has criticized Blatter in the past and told reporters last week that he had asked Blatter to bow out of the elections. He was one of the first to react to the announcement: “It was a difficult decision, a brave decision, and the right decision.”

Blatter won a fifth term Friday despite a week marred by arrests, investigations in the United States and Switzerland and questions about whether he was the man to rebuild FIFA’s reputation.

Blatter failed to get the required 140 votes in the first round of voting to prevail. Another round of voting was called, and because Blatter would need only a simple majority to win the second, his rival, Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, conceded.

The president of the embattled organization will continue his duties until a new president is elected, he said Tuesday.

Normally, the FIFA president is elected at the organization’s World Congress, the next one being scheduled in Mexico City on May 13.

Waiting until then to elect new leadership “would create unnecessary delay and I will urge the executive committee to organize an extraordinary congress for the election of my successor at the earliest opportunity.”

As he won’t be a candidate, he said, it will allow him “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.”

Here is Blatter’s full statement:

I have been reflecting deeply about my presidency and about the 40 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 organization. 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 organize 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 organized 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 and implementation of these and other measures. Mr. Scala is the Independent Chairman of our Audit 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.