Short, Sweet, and Scandalous: FIFA President Blatter Resigns Days After Re-election

On Tuesday, June 2, FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced that he would resign his position at a sudden press conference at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich.  Blatter, who was just re-elected to a fifth term on Friday, May 29, explained that he would continue to carry out the functions as the head of FIFA until a new election occurs.  With FIFA’s next congress scheduled for May 2016, a special meeting of FIFA’s member nations will be held to elect a new president.  Pursuant to FIFA’s rules, these members must have at least four months’ notice for such a meeting, so this election likely will not take place until at least December 2015.

Due to the short notice regarding this speech, Blatter made his announcement before a mostly empty room and, after finishing his prepared remarks, walked off without taking questions from the few reporters who were present.  Even with FIFA and Blatter having come under fire after the arrests that took place as a result of bribery and corruption charges, this announcement seems to have come as a major surprise.  Just days earlier, Blatter had responded to a question about resigning in disbelief, telling a Swiss TV station that if he were to step down, it would mean that he partook in the wrongdoing.

While it is unclear what led to Blatter’s change of heart over the span of just a few days, a high-ranking soccer official has said that Blatter was advised by his legal counsel that continuing as the head of FIFA could increase the difficulty in defending him against possible future prosecution.  The anonymous official additionally explained that Blatter, as president, would need to make public comments on the ongoing investigations that could create additional legal problems for him, and that the pressure on Blatter from soccer’s corporate partners and various FIFA members increased considerably over the weekend and likely would continue to do so.

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