(WINDSOR, ON) – In a surprising move, hot on the heels of arrests of senior FIFA officials and media representatives in the US and Switzerland, FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced that he is resigning his position as soon as an elective congress can be held to choose his successor. That congress was scheduled to occur in May of 2016 in Mexico.
However Blatter, who was re-elected only days ago, is advocating for an earlier date. The advanced date for the congress could not be earlier than December this year.
“I have been reflecting deeply about my presidency,” Blatter said in a prepared statement. “I cherish FIFA more than anything and I want to do only what is best for FIFA and for football. I felt compelled to stand for re-election … That election is over but FIFA’s challenges are not. FIFA needs a profound overhaul.”
On May 26, 14 persons were arrested in coordinated raids in both the United States and in Switzerland, in connection to bribery, fraud, racketeering, and money laundering. Under intense pressure, Blatter finally abdicated his position at the head of soccer’s world governing body.
Yet, after 40 years of involvement with FIFA, including 17 years as president, Blatter is only now suggesting that far-reaching reforms are needed and that more power should be centrally concentrated at FIFA instead of with the regional confederations.
”I shall be able to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts,” he said. “For years, we have worked hard to put in place administrative reforms, but it is plain to me that while these must continue, they are not enough.”
At the same time, FIFA operative Domenico Scala is heading up an independent reform program. Scala, the Independent Chairman of the Audit and Compliance Committee, will act as Blatter’s right-hand man in pushing through the changes envisioned by the current president.
”I am committed to working to facilitate the implementation of the reforms that the President has outlined and to putting in place the conditions for the election of a new President,” said Scala, who will also oversee the selection process for Blatter’s replacement. “In order to ensure that those who represent FIFA are of the highest integrity, FIFA will seek to implement FIFA-driven integrity checks for all Executive Committee members.”
Additionally, Blatter and Scala are spearheading the move to publish the compensation of the president and executive members and are proposing term limits, as well.
The effort may fall short, however. Blatter’s involvement in the reform process could be its undoing.
“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,” Blatter said.
Meanwhile in Lyon, France, INTERPOL has today issued Red Notices, or international wanted persons alerts, for two former FIFA officials and four corporate executives for charges related to racketeering, conspiracy, and corruption.
Wanted are Jack Warner, of Trinidad and Tobago, a former FIFA vice president and executive committee member, Nicolás Leoz, a Paraguayan national and former FIFA executive committee member, Alejandro Burzaco, from Argentina, the controlling principal of Torneos y Competencias, a sports marketing business, Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis, both of Argentina and the controlling principals of Full Play Group, a sports marketing business, and José Margulies (also known as José Lazaro), a Brazilian national and controlling principal of Valente Corp and Somerton Ltd, broadcasting businesses.