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I am now free, says Sepp Blatter as he resigns as FIFA president

Under-fire FIFA chief Sepp Blatter says he will say goodbye to world football’s hot seat and concentrate on profound reforms’ which were called for in his tenure

Zurich: Sepp Blatter on Tuesday resigned as president of FIFA as a mounting corruption scandal engulfed world football's governing body.

ALSO READ: Sepp Blatter comes through another storm, re-elected FIFA president

The 79-year-old Swiss official, FIFA president for 17 years and only reelected on Friday, said a special congress would be called as soon as possible to elect a successor.

Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter

Blatter said that the scandal-tainted FIFA needs "profound reconstruction" and that he had "thoroughly reconsidered" his presidency since his reelection. He added that the vote "does not seem to be supported by everybody in the world of football."

ALSO READ: Sepp Blatter's aide Valcke linked to $10 million payment, FIFA clears him 

His resignation came less than a week after Swiss police arrested seven FIFA officials, including two vice presidents, at a Zurich hotel. The arrests were carried out on behalf of US prosecutors who accuse the seven, and eight other suspects, of involvement in $150 million of bribes.

Blatter told the news conference: “I will organise an extraordinary congress for a replacement for me as president. I will not stand. I am now free from the constraints of an election. I will be in a position to focus on profound reforms. For many years we have called for reforms. But these are not sufficient.

“I have thoroughly considered and thought about my presidency and the last 40 years in my life. These years were closely related to FIFA and the wonderful sport of football. I appreciate and love FIFA more than anything else.

“I only want to do the best for FIFA and my institution. I decided to stand again as the best option for football. The elections are closed but the challenges we face haven’t come to an end.”

Blatter’s announcement comes after FIFA has admitted it paid 10million USD destined for the South Africa World Cup to an account controlled by the disgraced former vice-president Jack Warner. The payment followed a letter from the South African FA to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.

Sepp Blatter's resignation statement

Statement by Sepp Blatter on Tuesday announcing he would be stepping down as president of world football's governing body FIFA: "I have been reflecting deeply about my presidency and about the forty years in which my life has been inextricably bound to FIFA and the great sport of football. I cherish FIFA more than anything and I want to do only what is best for FIFA and for football.

"I felt compelled to stand for re-election, as I believed that this was the best thing for the organisation. That election is over but FIFA's challenges are not. FIFA needs a profound overhaul. 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. 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.

"Since I shall not be a candidate, and am therefore now free from the constraints that elections inevitably impose, I shall be able to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts. For years, we have worked hard to put in place administrative reforms, but it is plain to me that while these must continue, they are not enough.

The Executive Committee includes representatives of confederations over whom we have no control, but for whose actions FIFA is held responsible. We need deep-rooted structural change. The size of the Executive Committee must be reduced and its members should be elected through the FIFA Congress.

"The integrity checks for all Executive Committee members must be organised centrally through FIFA and not through the confederations. We need term limits not only for the president but for all members of the Executive Committee. I have fought for these changes before and, as everyone knows, my efforts have been blocked.

"This time, I will succeed. I cannot do this alone. I have asked Domenico Scala to oversee the introduction and implementation of these and other measures.

"Mr. Scala is the Independent Chairman of our Audit and Compliance Committee elected by the FIFA Congress. He is also the Chairman of the ad hoc Electoral Committee and, as such, he will oversee the election of my successor. Mr. Scala enjoys the confidence of a wide range of constituents within and outside of FIFA and has all the knowledge and experience necessary to help tackle these major reforms.

"It is my deep care for FIFA and its interests, which I hold very dear, that has led me to take this decision. I would like to thank those who have always supported me in a constructive and loyal manner as President of FIFA and who have done so much for the game that we all love. What matters to me more than anything is that when all of this is over, football is the winner." 

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