Key Fifa official says Sepp Blatter must stick to decision to quit

Domenico Scala underlines need for a new president after reports of Blatter U-turn

Domenico Scala, head of Fifa’s audit and compliance unit, has urged Sepp Blatter not to renege on his promise to stand down as Fifa president. Photograph: Reuters

The head of Fifa's audit and compliance unit, Domenico Scala, has underlined the need for a new president and for widespread reform in the wake of reports that the incumbent Sepp Blatter could try and stand again despite promising to quit.

Scala, who appeared alongside Blatter when he announced his departure, is understood to be adamant that he must follow through on his promise to stand down.“For me, the reforms are the central topic. That is why I think it is clearly indispensable to follow through with the initiated process of president’s change as it has been announced,” Scala said on Sunday.

His comments came after a Swiss newspaper reported an unnamed source close to Blatter as saying he had received messages of support from Asian and African associations asking him to rethink his decision and had not ruled out staying on.

Fifa insiders swiftly branded the suggestion "nonsense" and in a statement world football's embattled governing body, in crisis since US prosecutors charged 14 officials, nine of whom are current or former Fifa executives, over widespread bribery and fraud, pointed to Blatter's announcement on 2 June.


In that statement, he said he would carry on until an extraordinary elective congress to be held between December and February next year. But he was clear in his intention to “lay down my mandate” and stated: “I shall not be a candidate.”

Scepticism from those insistent on fundamental reform is inevitable since Blatter also promised in 2011 that his fourth term as president would be his last before performing a U-turn and declaring his “mission” unfinished.

Since Blatter announced he would leave, just four days after being re-elected as president, there has been great speculation within football as to his motives.

Some have suggested he was buying time to find a way to cling on as president. Others believe that, despite the fact that some of his closest lieutenants are among those indicted by US authorities, he planned to use the time until the new election to ease a favoured successor into the post.

Since Blatter made his announcement, amid the fallout from the FBI investigation that alleged a “World Cup of fraud” going back two generations, world football’s power brokers have been circling one another and calibrating their next moves.

The Uefa president, Michel Platini, has held meetings with the Kuwaiti Fifa executive, Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, who supported Blatter at the last election and is seen as the key powerbroker in Asia. Sheikh al-Sabah is also believed to have met with Issa Hayatou, head of the Confederation of African Football.

Blatter referred to “far-reaching, fundamental reforms” in the speech in which he promised to stand down, but appears to be mainly focused on limiting the powers of the confederations around the executive committee table.

A Fifa executive committee meeting on 20 July will set the date of the “extraordinary congress” that will elect the next Fifa president, with mid-December the most likely date.

In the meantime, there will be continued pressure on Blatter to stand down immediately, both from within Fifa and without. Further revelations are expected as more US court documents are unsealed and the arrest and extradition process continues.

Damian Collins, the Tory MP who has been a prime mover in the NewFifaNow campaign, said on Sunday: "We know Blatter will do all he can to try and retain influence over Fifa to protect himself and this cronies. He needs to go now."

However, even if Blatter were to stand down immediately, under Fifa rules his place as president would be taken by Hayatou as the most senior Fifa vice president until an election could be held.

In the last week alone, Interpol has cancelled its relationship with Fifa and its director of communications, Walter de Gregorio, left the organisation. It came days after he told a joke about Fifa’s travails on television, but the Swiss report also claimed he had clashed with Blatter because he was adamant that he should quit as president.

(Guardian service)