Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA and the most powerful man in world soccer, abruptly announced his resignation on Tuesday, less than a week after the sport’s governing body was engulfed by a corruption scandal.
“FIFA needs a profound restructuring,” he said at a quickly assembled news conference in Zurich.
He had sailed to re-election only last Friday. Blatter, 79, said that he would stay on until a new election could be scheduled, probably between December and March.
He said that he made the decision after considering his presidency and “the last 40 years in my life.”
“While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA,” he said, “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.”
Blatter, who has been Fifa president since 1998, said: “The next ordinary Fifa congress will take place on 13 May, 2016 in Mexico City.
“This would create unnecessary delay and I will urge the executive committee to organise an extraordinary congress for the election of my successor at the earliest opportunity.
“This will need to be done in line with Fifa’s statutes and we must allow enough time for the best candidates to present themselves and to campaign.”
The extraordinary congress is expected to take place between December 2015 and March 2016.
“It is my deep care for FIFA and its interests, which I hold very dear, that has led me to take this decision,” Blatter said.
Blatter was elected to a fifth term as FIFA president on Friday, two days after U.S. prosecutors indicted a number of FIFA officials on corruption charges and promised more indictments were likely, though Blatter’s name was not specifically mentioned. However, after Blatter’s announcement, news broke that he is being targeted by the FBI.
On Monday, reports linked FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, Blatter’s right-hand man, to a $10 million payment sent to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner in exchange for what prosecutors say was a positive vote on South Africa’s bid for the 2010 World Cup.
The $10 million was taken out of the operating budget for that year’s World Cup and transferred by FIFA in 2008 to an account controlled by Warner, ostensibly to fund something called the “Diaspora Legacy Programme.” All of this was detailed in a letter sent from the South African Football Association to Valcke in 2008.
In a statement released Tuesday, FIFA claimed the program supported “the African diaspora in Caribbean countries as part of the World Cup legacy” and that neither Valcke “nor any other member of FIFA’s senior management were involved in the initiation, approval and implementation of the above project.” However, the program’s name did not appear in any official FIFA documents until the letter was uncovered Tuesday, and U.S. prosecutors allege that Warner transferred the $10 million to his personal accounts.