Just days after he won a fifth term as FIFA president, Sepp Blatter made an about-face on Tuesday afternoon, announcing that he will step down as head of the organization.
“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,” said Blatter. “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 announcement, which was made during a press conference on Tuesday in Zurich, comes as the world soccer governing body is awash in a massive corruption scandal that saw the arrest of 14 different officials.
A new election will be held to find Blatter’s successor, though the date has not been set. Per FIFA rules, the Extraordinary Congress that will be used to elect a new president can’t happen sooner than four months from now.
On Monday, The New York Times reported Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary general and Blatter’s No. 2 man, had been implicated in a scheme that the feds believe involved a $10 million bribe in exchange for votes for the 2010 South Africa World Cup.
Blatter’s 16-year tenure as president of FIFA has been riddled with controversy. The most notable example was the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to the tiny Gulf nation of Qatar, which has resulted in an astounding number of deaths among migrant workers who were tasking with building the stadiums. Due to the Middle Eastern country’s sweltering summer temperatures, FIFA moved that Cup to the winter, which caused dissent among many FIFA nations.
Along with Qatar, Swiss authorities are also looking at the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup, which was awarded to Russia. UEFA, the organization that governs soccer in Europe, may boycott the 2018 Cup in Russia.
The Women’s World Cup — which will controversially be played entirely on Astroturf — is set to begin June 6 from Canada, the first under Fox Sports’ deal with FIFA that will run through 2026.