FIFA’s embattled president Sepp Blatter on Tuesday said he would resign as chief of soccer’s governing body, a stunning turn of events days after the Swiss national was elected to a fifth term amid a damaging corruption scandal.
In a press conference at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, Mr. Blatter admitted no wrongdoing himself but said it had become clear that he no longer had the widespread support of the soccer world after 17 years at the helm.
“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,” Mr. Blatter said Tuesday evening.
FIFA has been rocked by widespread allegations of corruption and the arrest last week of top officials from the body by Swiss authorities at the behest of U.S. federal investigators. Despite the allegations, Mr. Blatter was re-elected to a fifth term at the helm of the organization on Friday.
On Tuesday, Mr. Blatter said he would resign as soon as a successor had been elected. Without offering a time frame, he called on the executive committee that runs the organization to organize a new election “at the earliest possible opportunity.” He urged this to happen before FIFA’s next official Congress in May 2016.
The news came as a shock to much of the soccer world after it looked like Mr. Blatter was gearing up for battle with his many opponents, including the European football associations that had been his toughest critics and had called on him to resign.
“It was a difficult decision, a brave decision and the right decision,” Michel Platini, the head of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, said in a statement on Mr. Blatter’s resignation.