Less than a week after a corruption scandal rocked the soccer world, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who had once maintained he was the man to lead soccer’s international governing body, has announced he is stepping down.
Blatter, 79, was re-elected to a fifth term in office Friday, but announced days later on Tuesday from Zurich, Switzerland, that he will resign. He has called for a new election to choose a successor. The Associated Press reports that elections are expected to take place between December and March.
In his address, Blatter expressed that he did not feel he had the fans’ support.
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.
Therefore, I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective Congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as FIFA President until that election
Watch Blatter’s full announcement below:
On Wednesday, the Justice Department charged 14 people — nine of international soccer’s top officials and five sports marketing executives — with crimes including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering. It’s a case that involves more than $150 million in bribes, doled out over decades, for media and marketing rights to various tournaments.
Swiss officials also opened an investigation on the individuals involved with the vote to award Russia and Qatar Men’s World Cup hosting rights in 2018 and 2022, respectively. Qatar especially is under scrutiny for its human rights violations and history of migrant worker deaths. A report last year by the International Trade Union Confederation estimated that 1,200 World Cup workers had died since Qatar’s bid was announced in 2010. The organization estimates that 4,000 will have died by 2022, the time of the event.
And on Monday, Blatter’s No. 2 in command, FIFA’s secretary general Jerome Valcke, was implicated as the “high-ranking FIFA official” in the Justice Department’s indictment who is said to have transferred $10 million into the account of another FIFA official, Jack Warner. Warner is accused of taking bribes in exchange for helping South Africa secure the 2010 World Cup. Read the full indictment here.
One of Blatter’s most vocal critics has been television host John Oliver. In a 13-minute rant Sunday on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight,” the comedian, and admitted soccer fan, called FIFA, “an appalling organization,” and “the dictionary definition of corruption.”
This massive shakeup comes days before world’s best female players gather to compete for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. The first match is Saturday in Edmonton, Alberta, between Canada and China.
We will have analysis on this latest development in the FIFA corruption scandal on tonight’s PBS NewsHour.