News 2 June 2015

Blatter to step down as FIFA President

Joseph S. Blatter today announced that he is to step down as President of FIFA between December 2015 and March 2016, but plans to remain at FIFA to drive through governance reforms to its Executive Committee. The delay is due to the FIFA Statutes, which under Article 24 require at least five of FIFA’s 209 member associations to notify the FIFA general secretariat in writing of a candidature for FIFA Presidency at least four months before the start of the FIFA Congress. ‘FIFA must also consider appropriate time to vet candidates and allow them to present their ideas for the organisation that set forth their vision’, read an explanation from Domenico Scala, the Independent Chairman of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee. ‘Therefore, while the decision on timing of the Extraordinary Congress and election of a new President will ultimately be up to the Executive Committee, the expectation is that this could take place anytime from December of this year to March of next year’.

A FIFA President can only be elected via secret ballot of FIFA’s 209 member associations at a FIFA Congress. There is more on how this process works here. Blatter was recently re-elected after his only challenger, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, withdrew after being defeated by 133 to 73 votes in the first ballot (three electronic votes were considered ineligible). This was despite US and Swiss authorities separately taking action against FIFA executives two days ahead of the FIFA Congress. Blatter elected to proceed with the election. “Why would I step down?” he told Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS). “That would mean I recognise that I did wrong. I fought for the last three or four years against all the corruption.”

He plans to fight on against the corruption with Scala, whom he has asked to oversee his planned reform of the FIFA Executive Committee, which he expects to be able to implement now that he is ‘free from the constraints that elections inevitably impose’. Blatter was the only one of the initial five candidates for FIFA President not to publish a written manifesto.

‘The Executive Committee includes representatives of confederations over whom we have no control, but for whose actions FIFA is held responsible’, read a transcript of Blatter’s address to journalists in Zurich today. ‘We need deep-rooted structural change. The size of the Executive Committee must be reduced and its members should be elected through the FIFA Congress. The integrity checks for all Executive Committee members must be organised centrally through FIFA and not through the confederations.’

‘We need term limits not only for the President, but for all members of the Executive Committee’, continued Blatter. ‘I have fought for these changes before and, as everyone knows, my efforts have been blocked’, he said, referring to a proposal on age and term limits for FIFA executives, which was rejected at the 2014 FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo – if the proposals had been approved, Blatter would not have been able to stand for election as President at last week’s Congress. ‘This time, I will succeed.’

Scala expanded on some of the planned reforms. ‘FIFA will seek to implement FIFA-driven integrity checks for all Executive Committee members’, he said. ‘Such a reform was previously proposed by the Independent Governance Committee, but was rejected by the Confederations. Today these checks are the responsibility of the confederations to which these members belong. This must change. Confederations actions must be consistent with their speech.’

‘While FIFA operates in line with all applicable laws and international accounting standards, FIFA recognises that many have questioned the transparency by which FIFA operates’, continued Scala. ‘To addValckeLetterress specific calls, FIFA will seek to publicise the compensation of the President and the Executive Committee Members and will propose term limits for the President and Executive Committee members.’

Blatter announced his intention to resign after FIFA today admitted that in 2008, it had arranged for its former Vice President, Jack Warner, to be paid US$10 million earmarked for the local organising committee for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. It denied that senior management were involved, only for a letter (pictured) to later emerge addressed to FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke concerning the payment. US law enforcement officials have confirmed that he is under investigation by US authorities, reports the New York Times. ‘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’, said Blatter today.

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