Sepp Blatter said Tuesday that he will step down as FIFA president amid a widening corruption investigation into the world soccer’s governing body.
In an unexpected announcement just four days after he secured a fifth term as FIFA chief, the 79-year-old said he will quit after the organization’s executive committee arranges a fresh election to choose his successor.
An election will be held as soon as possible, Blatter said, although other FIFA officials indicated that it might not take place until at least December.
In a hastily arranged news conference in Zurich, six days after police raided a hotel in the city and arrested several FIFA officials, Blatter admitted that “FIFA needs profound restructuring”.
“Although the members of FIFA gave me a new mandate, this mandate does not seem to be supported by everyone in the world,” the Swiss national said, according to Reuters.
The announcement of his exit came amid reports that Blatter was being probed by US authorities as part of the corruption investigation into FIFA.
Blatter has not been charged with any wrongdoing yet.
The New York Times cited sources as saying that in their efforts to build a case against Blatter, US authorities were hoping to win the cooperation of some of the FIFA officials now under indictment.
Meanwhile, the soccer chief’s decision to step down has been welcomed by his critics.
Reuters quoted European football federation chief Michel Platini, a French former international player and favorite to succeed Blatter as FIFA president, as saying that “it was a difficult decision, a brave decision, and the right decision.”
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