Scandal closes in on former president
Sponsors urge new start at FIFA as Blatter faces FBI probe
US prosecutors, who last week arrested a number of senior officials at FIFA over bribery allegations, are said to be closing in on Sepp Blatter who last night resigned as president of world football’s governing body.
He delivered a bullish and defiant message on Friday after winning the support of Congress, but he is said to have been advised by those close to him, including his daughter Corinne, to stand down.
It is now understood that the FBI is stepping up inquiries into Mr Blatter and this seems to have persuaded him that it was time to blow the whistle on his 17 year tenure.
The move was welcomed by a number of global sponsors who have been struggling with reputational issues since the raids on the organisation by Swiss police last week.
Cola-Cola, Budweiser and Adidas were among those who last night welcomed Mr Blatter’s decision to resign.
In a statement, Coca-Cola said: “This decision will help FIFA transform itself rapidly into a much-needed 21st century structure and institution.”
It said FIFA should “take concrete actions to fully address all of the issues that have been raised and win back the trust of all who love the sport.”
Adidas, the German sportswear maker that tied its corporate identity to European soccer, said welcomed “FIFA’s commitment to change” and that Blatter’s pending resignation “marks a step in the right direction on FIFA’s path to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do.”
Anheuser-Busch InBev said it expects Blatter’s decision “to accelerate FIFA’s efforts to resolve internal issues, install positive change and adhere to the highest ethical standards and transparency.”
Mr Blatter’s decision will reopen debate about the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar which are suspected of being at the centre of the bribery allegations. It also leaves a vacuum at the top of FIFA.
Former French footballer Michel Platini, now president of Uefa, is expected to throw his hat into the ring, though he may be compromised by his support for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid.
The Reuters news agency said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has suggested Argentina’s footballing legend Diego Maradona who supported Mr Blatter’s rival in last Friday’s vote, the Jordanian Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein.
Associated Press has reported that former Brazilian player Zico is thinking about standing.