Sepp Blatter has announced he is resigning as the FIFA president, a position he just won.
Blatter, who has worked for FIFA since 1975 and was FIFA president from 1989, stunned the soccer world with his announcement today. Blatter said a meeting would be held shortly to appoint is successor, according to ESPN. Blatter, speaking in his native French, made the announcement in Zurich, Switzerland.
“FIFA needs profound restructuring,” Blatter said. “Although members have given me the new mandate, this mandate does not seem to be supported by everyone. We will hold an extraordinary conference as soon as possible. A new president will be elected.” After his announcement, he walked off-stage without taking any questions.
It was just four days ago that Blatter won reelection after only two ballots. Blatter fell just seven votes short of the two-thirds majority during the first ballot against Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein. Al-Hussein surprisingly withdrew from the balloting, giving Blatter a clear road to victory.
Before the election, 14 FIFA officials had been indicted in what is considered one of the largest corruption scandals in history. Many feel that Blatter, 79, and many of his lieutenants sold their influence to get the World Cup to be hosted in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. Though Russia’s hosting seems safe right now, Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup is now in question.
The Guardian is reporting that Blatter did a sudden about-face from the smug, overconfident incumbent from Friday. “I will organise extraordinary congress for a replacement for me as president. I will not stand. I am now free from the constraints of an election. I will be in a position to focus on profound reforms. For many years we have called for reforms. But these are not sufficient.”
“Fifa’s interest are dear to me. That’s why I have taken this decision. What counts most for me, is the institution of Fifa and football around the world.”
Even with Blatter’s resignation, there are still many unanswered questions. When will the new elections be held? Will Al-Hussein run again? Why did Blatter resign now, instead of before the elections began? Will one of Blatter’s lackeys be elected?
What is clear from Blatter’s resignation now is that he could see the writing on the wall. The investigation into the corruption while on his watch was growing, and the wolves were closing in. Now, Blatter will serve as president until the new president is elected. After that, he will step down. Whether or not he will be held accountable if any wrongdoing is found on his part remains to be seen.