Blatter steps down as FIFA president

FIFAIn a surprising move, Sepp Blatter steps down as president of FIFA and is asking for an election to name a replacement as soon as possible.

Last week Blatter was reelected as FIFA president despite the cloud hanging over the organization, but since then new allegations regarding FIFA bribery were reported in news organizations around the world.

“FIFA needs a profound restructuring,” Blatter said today at a Zurich press conference. “I appreciate and love FIFA more than anything else. And I only want to do the best for FIFA.”

The new allegation say Blatter’s right-hand lieutenant, Jerome Valcke, approved a payment of $10 million to disgraced former vice-president Jack Warner and his deputy Chuck Blazer in return for them voting for the 2010 World Cup to be played in South Africa, according to the Mail Online:

Secretary general Jerome Valcke was last night suspected of signing off the payment, but FIFA issued a statement this morning robustly denying he had any involvement.

They insisted it was instead authorised by Julio Grondona, the former finance chief and Blatter’s long-time ally who died last year.

However, just an hour later, a letter from the South African Football Association emerged that appeared to blow apart those claims.

From Domenico Scala, FIFA’s head of audit and compliance committee: “I am dedicated to putting into place the conditions for the election of a new president. There will be reforms to how the elections are conducted. Under the rules governing FIFA, the election must be voted on by members at the FIFA congress. The president will ask the executive committee to form an extraordinary congress to elect a new president. While the timing will ultimately be up to the executive committee the timing of election likely to be between December and March.”

The resignation is a bombshell, to say the least. But it paves the way to restructure operations and impose term limits on the presidency — and perhaps moving power away from the president and into an executive committee, while also moving away from the one country, one vote structure. (It makes little sense to have a world organization where the Grand Caymans have the same voting power as Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.) It also gives FIFA an out in reevaluating World Cup bid in Qatar and Russia — which means we are in for some very interesting times in the coming year.

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