Football

Blatter steps down as Fifa president

Swiss steps down from Fifa top post, says extraordinary congress for a 
new president 
will be held soon

Sepp Blatter resigned as president of Fifa this morning (Singapore time) as a mounting corruption scandal engulfed world football's governing body.

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

Blatter said that the scandal-tainted Fifa needs "profound reconstruction" and that he had "thoroughly reconsidered" his presidency since his re-election.

He added that the vote "does not seem to be supported by everybody in the world of football".

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 US$150 million ($203m) of bribes.

ALLEGATIONS

Blatter's announcement came in the wake of Fifa calling a news conference yesterday following further revelations surrounding allegations of bribery regarding a US$10m payment.

It has emerged that the payment from Fifa to an account controlled by the disgraced former vice-president Jack Warner followed a letter from 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa to Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke.

South African FA president Molefi Oliphant wrote to Valcke asking for the payment to be withheld from World Cup funds and paid instead to Warner to support football in the Caribbean.

Details of the letter emerged overnight and, at 3.30pm yesterday (Zurich time), Fifa announced the news conference at its headquarters.

The US$10m payment is at the heart of the Fifa bribery scandal - a US justice department indictment of 18 people on corruption charges says the money was paid to Warner and his deputy Chuck Blazer in return for them voting for the 2010 World Cup to be played in South Africa.

A Fifa statement said Valcke was not involved, but that the payment was made at the request of the South African government and FA, and authorised by Julio Grondona, the former finance chief and long-time ally of president Sepp Blatter. Grondona died last year.

PA Sport has seen a copy of the letter which contains detailed instructions for the payment.

Prior to the letter emerging, Fifa had insisted Valcke, nor any other senior management figure, was involved.

Once the letter was out, Fifa stuck to that line in a statement. - PA Sport.

I will organise extraordinary congress for a replacement for me as president. I will not stand... Fifa’s interest are dear to me. That’s why I have taken this decision.

— Sepp Blatter on his decision to resign just after winning a fifth term as Fifa president


WHAT THEY SAY

“Something has come out of the events of last week that has caused Mr Blatter to resign… He’s gone. At long last we can sort out Fifa. We can go back to looking at those two World Cups. If I were Qatar right now, I wouldn’t be feeling very comfortable.”

— England FA chief Greg Dyke

“Blatter has resigned. Can’t quite believe it. Fifa always appeared to be such a fine upstanding organisation.”

— Ex-England captain Gary Lineker

“Finally!”

— Ex-Man United and Everton defender Philip Neville

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