In a lunchtime press conference today, 17 year president of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Sepp Blatter announced that he is stepping down, but not with immediate effect. His current plans are to call an “extraordinary congress” of the association to elect a new president.
A federal corruption investigation in the U.S. recently saw several high ranking members of the organization, including former vice-president Jack Warner, indicted and or arrested for a variety of crimes including money laundering, illegal wire transfers, bribery and racketeering. The investigation has been ongoing for at least three years according to some reports.
Although Blatter has not been charged, the money trail looked to be getting closer to the president with revelations yesterday of $10 million in bank transactions, dating back to 2008, that have been tied to Blatter’s top lieutenant, Jérôme Valcke. Reports in the U.S., citing inside sources, indicate that Blatter is under investigation in the probe.
Blatter was re-elected to another four year term just days after top officials were arrested in Zurich and elsewhere for their roles in the alleged wrong-doing.
Organization officials and notable sponsors have welcomed the resignation as a way to a start fresh, while some players were pleased for other reasons. Former Brazilian striker, and current federal senator in Brazil, Romário de Souza Faria is quoted in media as saying, “His fall will come as a tsunami to every corrupt leader in the confederations around the world.” And, “We need the corrupt ones in prison, and we need the contributions from great idols, good sports leaders and football lovers.”
Joseph S. “Sepp” Blatter has worked for the FIFA since 1975 and has been its president since June 1998.