Sepp Blatter resigned as FIFA president yesterday, four days after being re-elected to a fifth term amid the biggest corruption scandal in the history of football’s global governing body.
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, 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 football 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 … Change at the very top of FIFA is the necessary first step in delivering real reform of the organisation." 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.
Romario, a member of the 1994 World Cup-winning Brazilan team, and now a Brazilian senator, said it’s "the best news in a long time. The resignation of Joseph Blatter from the presidency of FIFA represents the start of a new era for world soccer." He said that FIFA has become just a machine for making money in recent decades.
FIFA, which Blatter had ruled since 1998, has been in the spotlight this week for the announcement of a US investigation into alleged widespread financial wrongdoing.