Just days after being re-elected to a fifth term as FIFA's president, Sepp Blatter resigned from his position on June 2 amid outside pressure to step aside due to his failure to stop corruption within the ranks of world soccer.
Sam Borden of the New York Times was among the first to report that the 79-year-old native of Switzerland was vacating his post.
However, a report from Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag (via The Guardian) on June 13 indicated that Blatter may be re-thinking his decision:
The newspaper said it had information that Blatter had received messages of support from African and Asian football associations asking him to rethink his decision to step down. The source told the paper Blatter was honoured by the support and had not ruled out remaining in office. Fifa did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The newspaper also suggested that Blatter’s renewed interest in the job was another reason for the departure of Walter de Gregorio as Fifa’s director of communications, since he had argued for a new start and advised Blatter to go. De Gregorio declined to comment.
Following the revelation of his decision, Blatter released a statement regarding what will happen next with the FIFA presidency, according to HuffPost Sports:
Blatter also explained the reasoning behind his resignation in a lengthy statement, courtesy of FIFA.com. The embattled administrator acknowledged that soccer’s governing body is in need of change:
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.
That overhaul is seemingly forthcoming, but it won't be immediate. Per Rob Harris of the Associated Press, another presidential election won’t take place for some time:
The Agence France-Press reported that Prince Ali bin-al Hussein will run for the now-vacant position.
CONCACAF president Alfredo Hawit released a statement following Blatter announcement:
We are at an important moment for the game, a moment that we must not squander. CONCACAF stands ready to assist in the process of rebuilding FIFA in a way that strengthens the game for many years to come.
Even though a new president is still months down the line, the chairman of FIFA's Audit and Compliance Committee, Domenico Scala, revealed the organization will take a long, hard look at what else can be changed in the meantime, according to Jerrad Peters of Sportsnet:
Among the procedures that Scala intends to change is the manner in which FIFA executives are elected:
Gabriele Marcotti of ESPN FC detailed more of those changes:
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati issued a statement on Blatter's resignation:
The announcement today by President Blatter represents an exceptional and immediate opportunity for positive change within FIFA. I commend him for making a decision that puts FIFA and the sport we love above all other interests. This is the first of many steps towards real and meaningful reform within FIFA. Today is an occasion for optimism and belief for everyone who shares a passion for our game.
The United States Department of Justice indicted 14 people involved in alleged misconduct within FIFA last week.
The Swiss attorney general said that "Sepp Blatter is not under investigation. His resignation will have no influence," according to Bryan Swanson of Sky Sports. While Blatter wasn't being investigated by the Swiss, the FBI investigation did concern the FIFA president, according to Doug McIntyre of ESPN.
Blatter's daughter Corinne told Richard Conway of BBC 5Live that today's "decision has nothing...to do with the accusations that are currently circulating."
The voting process for the 2018 World Cup and the 2022 World Cup in Russia and Qatar, respectively, is believed to be one of the biggest scandals perpetuated by FIFA. Because of that, English Football Association Chairman Greg Dyke said, "If I was the organisers of the Qatar World Cup, I wouldn't sleep well tonight," according to Harris.
Qatar's World Cup officials responded to Dyke, saying: “We would urge Mr Dyke to ... concentrate on delivering his promise to build an England team capable of winning the 2022 World Cup," via Harris.
Blatter was not among those indicted last week or implicated in potential voting fraud, but the longtime president had come under fire for his presence and ultimately opted to step aside.
FIFA has long been viewed as a potentially corrupt organization, but now that a change in leadership is imminent and those remaining are seemingly ready to make alterations, FIFA may finally be on the road to recovery.
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