Sepp Blatter to resign as Fifa president amid scandal

Swiss chief will not actually depart football’s top job for at least six months

Instead of four years, Sepp Blatter's fifth term as Fifa president has lasted just four days with the 79-year-old announcing on Tuesday evening that he is to resign.

His surprise decision came six days after the FBI raided a hotel in Zurich and arrested several Fifa officials.

The organisation is to call an extraordinary congress, most likely between December of this year and March of next, at which his successor will be elected. Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, who lost out to the Swiss in a vote last Friday, was quick to make it known he will again be available.

The somewhat protracted plan to replace Blatter means he will not actually depart football’s top job for at least six months. There were few complaints in the wake of the announcement, with the man portrayed by rivals as the game’s greatest enemy before the weekend earning some praise for his decision to depart, as well as prompting some jubilation.

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"It was a difficult decision, a brave decision, and the right decision," said Uefa president Michel Platini, one of the men who could now attempt to fill Blatter's shoes.

Rather less diplomatically the English FA chairman, Greg Dyke, remarked: "I think it's brilliant for world football. This is the start of something new. He's stood down. He's gone. Let's celebrate."

Blatter, who announced his decision in a surprise press conference, did not explain what had prompted his sudden change of mind.

His announcement marked the culmination of another eventful day for Fifa with emerging details of the payment it made to the Jack Warner-controlled Caribbean Football Union on behalf of the South African FA further undermining his credibility.

Celebrated survivor

Perhaps it was that or the fear of where the story might go next, but within a matter of hours the celebrated survivor was standing in front of barely a handful of journalists announcing he had decided enough was enough.

“I cherish Fifa more than anything,” he said without any great display of emotion, “and I want to do only what is best for Fifa and for football”.

“I felt compelled to stand for re-election, as I believed that this was the best thing for the organisation. That election is over but Fifa’s challenges are not. Fifa needs a profound overhaul.”

This, he said, would go further than anything that he believed he could deliver and he announced that Domenico Scala, the independent chairman of Fifa's audit and compliance committee, would oversee the far-reaching programme of review and reform that so many have been seeking for years.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Industry and Employment Correspondent at The Irish Times