FIFA president Sepp Blatter will resign from soccer’s governing body amid a widening corruption scandal and has promised to call for fresh elections to choose a successor.
Blatter, 79 was re-elected to a fifth term Friday, two days after a corruption crisis erupted and seven soccer officials were arrested in Zurich ahead of the FIFA congress.
“This mandate does not seem to be supported by everybody in the world of football,” Blatter said Tuesday at a hastily arranged news conference. “FIFA needs a profound restructuring.”
Elections are expected to take place sometime between December and March.
“I will continue to exercise my function (until the new election),” said Blatter, who looked strained and serious.
Three days earlier, Blatter was defiant and feisty in the same room when fending off questions about FIFA’s battered reputation and the chance U.S. federal agencies could seek his arrest.
Blatter said he reached the decision after he had “thoroughly considered my presidency and … the last 40 years in my life.”
Canadian men’s coach Benito Floro had little to say about Blatter’s resignation.
“I do not have any opinion because this is not my matter,” the Spanish native said on a conference call to announce Canada’s roster for its upcoming World Cup qualifying matches against Dominica. “I don’t understand the situation.
“My only desire is that FIFA work correctly and nothing more. But I don’t control this situation.”
Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani was not immediately available. Canada did not vote for Blatter at last week’s FIFA Congress, saying change was needed in the way the game of soccer was governed.
Blatter joined FIFA in 1975 as technical director for development projects, was promoted to general secretary in 1981 and spent 17 years as right-hand man to Joao Havelange of Brazil before being elected to lead world soccer.
The new election will be overseen by Domenico Scala, chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee.
Scala gave a statement immediately after Blatter in which he praised a decision that was “difficult and courageous in the current circumstances.”
“This is the most responsible way to ensure an orderly transition,” Scala said.
Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press