Blatter to quit as FIFA president, calls special congress to elect successor

Sepp Blatter has said he will resign as president of football’s governing body, FIFA, at an extraordinary congress of the organization. The sensational announcement comes just four days after Blatter was reelected as FIFA boss for a fifth term.

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Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, who gave in to Blatter during the vote last Friday, will run in the new FIFA election for president.

“As for new elections, Prince Ali is ready,” Sala Sabra, vice-president of the Jordanian football federation which the prince heads up, told AFP. “Prince Ali is ready to take over as FIFA head at any moment, should they ask him.”

Blatter, who took charge of world football in 1998, said he would be carrying out the duties of FIFA president until the extraordinary congress.

"I cherish FIFA most of all and always try to do the best for football and the organization,” Blatter said at a press conference in Switzerland. “I decided that I should keep running in elections. The election now is over, but the challenges remain. FIFA needs restructuring, the FIFA delegates have given me the mandate. But it is not supported by other members of FIFA, fans, clubs.Those who inspire FIFA like we do.Therefore, I ask to convene an extraordinary congress as soon as possible to elect my successor.”

The new congress will take place between December 2015 and March 2016, the chairman of FIFA's audit and compliance committee, Domenico Scala, has said. He has taken the floor after Blatter.

The fact that he won’t be running in the election will allow him to “focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts,” Blatter said.

He said that his team had been trying to implement administrative reforms in FIFA “for years,” adding that he has now come to realization that those efforts weren’t enough.

According to the outgoing FIFA boss, deep structural changes are needed in the organization as FIFA has no control overthe representatives from the various confederations on its Executive Committee, while at the same time it is held responsible for the actions of those people.

Blatter urged that integrity checks be performed by FIFA on all Executive Committee members. He also proposed that they be subject to term limits, as the president already is.

On Friday, 79-year-old Blatter won his fifth presidential term at FIFA after his opponent, Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, withdrew before the voting went into a second round.

The Swiss official was elected amid a massive corruption scandal at FIFA, which was prompted by a wave of accusations against senior FIFA figures just days before the vote.

Fourteen FIFA-linked officials and businessmen have been accused by the US of bribery, fraud and money laundering. Several were arrested in a Zurich hotel where they had gathered ahead of the organization’s general meeting.

Swiss prosecutors are also investigating the awarding of the World Cups 2018 and 2022 to Russia and Qatar, respectively, to ascertain whether the votes were clean and legal.

Meanwhile, Switzerland’s office of attorney general (OAG) said that it is not investigating Blatter in connection with the FIFA corruption probe.

“Joseph S. Blatter is not under investigation by the OAG. His announced resignation will have no influence on the ongoing criminal proceedings," the attorney general is cited as saying by Reuters.

FIFA’s chief ethics investigator, Cornel Borbley, said “the (investigatory) chamber will continue” working as world soccer's governing body “along with the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee of consistently ensuring compliance with FIFA's Code of Ethics” regardless of who takes the president’s seat.

“The body's independence from the president, regardless of who is exercising this function, is a key part of good corporate governance,” he added.

Blatter’s resignation quickly became a trend on Twitter, razing a wave of comments from all over the world.

The vast majority of users confessed to being shocked following the announcement and welcomed changes in FIFA.

Others expressed concern over the host nations of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, which had won their bids under Blatter’s rule.

Some users praised US investigators for shaking the foundations of world football’s governing body.