Sepp Blatter to stand down as president of Fifa: Here's why

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Tuesday 02 June 2015 18:50
sport

Could it really be true?

Yes! In a hastily arranged press conference in Zurich on Tuesday afternoon Sepp Blatter announced that he will be standing down as Fifa president.

Why now?

The under pressure president said that despite being elected last week, the mandate he had been given by Fifa's members was clearly "not supported by everyone in world football".

Speaking in French in front of a small gathering of the world's media, Blatter said he had "thoroughly considered my presidency and thought about the last 40 years of my life" since last week's election.

I decided to stand again because I was convinced it was the best option for football. The election is over but the challenges that Fifa faces are not. Fifa needs a profound overhaul.

The president, who was elected for a fifth term last week, had come under increased pressure following the arrests of several senior figures on charges of corruption.

What happens next?

Blatter added that he would hold an "extraordinary congress" as soon as possible where a new president will be elected. "I, of course, will not stand." He will however stay in power until then.

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.

There is no suggestion that Blatter is under direct investigation following last week's arrests.

Tipping point?

Blatter's resignation comes after the revelation of a letter from the South African FA (SAFA) that appeared to implicate his right-hand man Jerome Valcke in an alleged bribery payment made two years ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

Fifa had earlier denied that Valcke, the governing body’s secretary general, was an intermediary for the $10m “diaspora legacy programme” payment to Concacaf.

The letter from SAFA’s Molefi Oliphant asked for the fund to be “implemented directly” by Concacaf’s (now former) disgraced president Jack Warner.

The governing body explained: “Neither the secretary general Jerome Valcke nor any other member of Fifa’s senior management were involved in the initiation, approval and implementation of the above project [$10m payment].”

Where does that leave us?

Scepticism over the governing body's practices will remain until the next leader is announced. The fact that Fifa's members still voted for Blatter last week doesn't leave much room for optimism.

But after decades of scandal, widespread allegations of corruption and a stubborn president who seemed destined to cling on to power interminably, a new era beckons for Fifa at last.

All that remains to be seen is who takes the reins next.

More: John Oliver gives utterly brilliant, scathing analysis of Sepp Blatter

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