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Blatter resigns as FIFA president

Blatter said an election to choose a new president for the deeply troubled organisation would be held as soon as possible.
Blatter, 79, announced the decision at a hastily arranged news conference in Zurich. (Photo: Ennio Leanza/Keystone AP )
02/06/2015
14:45
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Sepp Blatter rocked the world of soccer on Tuesday by unexpectedly quitting as FIFA president in the face of a corruption investigation that has plunged the game's governing body into the worst crisis in its history.

Blatter, 79, announced the decision at a hastily arranged news conference in Zurich, six days after the FBI raided a hotel in Zurich and arrested several FIFA officials and just four days after he was re-elected to a fifth term as president.

Blatter said an election to choose a new president for the deeply troubled organisation would be held as soon as possible. A FIFA official said that could happen any time from December this year to March of next year.

"FIFA needs profound restructuring," said Blatter, a Swiss national who has been a dominating presence at FIFA for decades.

 

"I have thoroughly considered my presidency and thought about my presidency and the last 40 years of my life," Blatter, speaking in French, told the news conference.

"I decided to stand again to be elected because I was convinced it was the best option for football.

"Although the members of FIFA gave me a new mandate, this mandate does not seem to be supported by everyone in the world."

Blatter's decision was immediately welcomed by his most prominent critics.

European football federation chief Michel Platini, a French former international soccer star, said: "It was a difficult decision, a brave decision, and the right decision."

Greg Dyke, chairman of the English Football Association, said it was "good news for world football". He then asked: "Who got him? Who shot him? What happened between then (when he was elected) and now?"

"We haven't had a squeaky clean president for many, many years," Dyke told Sky Sports.

FIFA, which Blatter had ruled since 1998, was left reeling this week by the announcement of a U.S. investigation into alleged widespread financial wrongdoing stretching back for more than two decades.

Swiss authorities also mounted their own criminal probe into the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

The U.S. Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn had no immediate comment.

The office of the Swiss Attorney General, which is investigating alleged criminal mismanagement and money laundering at FIFA, said Blatter's resignation would have no effect on its proceedings. It said Blatter himself was not subject to investigation.

While Blatter was not mentioned in either the U.S. or Swiss investigations, there had been widespread calls for him to quit, mostly from Western nations. Some major sponsors also expressed misgivings about the impact of the scandal.

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