After a week of stonewalling and refusing to push back elections, embattled FIFA president Sepp Blatter shocked everyone by announcing his resignation on Tuesday night in Zurich, Switzerland.
Just six days after a federal indictment that ensnared 14 big time players within the world of international soccer, Blatter went from being re-elected by the FIFA congress to resigning his post. Blatter spun his resignation about being able to focus on reforms, but reality is the money trail around corruption has begun to reach higher and higher and closer and closer to Blatter.
“I will organize extraordinary congress for a replacement for me as president,” said Blatter at a hastily called press conference in Zurich. “I will not stand, I am now free from the constraints of an election.
“I will be in a position to focus on profound reforms. For many years we have called for reforms but these are not sufficient.”
With his resignation, Blatter culminated one of the strangest weeks in history for any leader of a sporting organization. He went from defiant on Wednesday, to humble and full of reform by Friday’s election, back to defiant and bristly on Saturday during his first press conference following election and finally to resignation just 72 hours later.
One has to wonder if Blatter saw the writing on the wall in legal allegations or even bigger influences within the organization. Whatever it was, Blatter was confronted with a smoking gun that forced his resignation in the face of all that defiance over the last week.
Blatter was forced to a second ballot during Friday’s vote for the FIFA presidency, with many of UEFA and CONCACAF voting against his candidacy. However, the only other person running, Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, stepped down and allowed Blatter to take the post for a fifth-straight time.
While this is the news many have wanted, this is just one step in a bigger picture of needs for the embattled international soccer governing body.
Blatter has called for an emergency congress, holding elections as soon as possible to get a new president in his place.
Who will run? Will All-Hussein run again and is he really an option to get the restructure and reform needed within FIFA?
Some say the 39-year-old was really the “only” option last week and may not be much better than Blatter. Although, in recent reports, Prince Ali has suggested he wants to make sure to return the focus to sport and less about the internal workings of FIFA.
With a clean slate could other names like former Portugal and Real Madrid star Luis Figo could be enticed to get back in the mix to help create huge change within the organization. He was harshly critical of the process and the corruption ahead of the United States federal indictments came down.
Plenty of change is about to come to FIFA regardless, as someone other than Blatter will head the organization for the first time in nearly two decades.
No matter who is in charge, the steps that person takes must be in the name of transformation and regaining of trust within the fans and international community. All eyes will continue to be on FIFA as this next step is taken in a dramatic summer for the governing body.