Embattled Fifa President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter announces his intention to stand down from his post, four days after being re-elected to a fifth term.
Speaking at a news conference in Zurich, Mr Blatter, 79, said that the mandate he had received by Fifa delegates last week “does not seem to be supported by everybody in the world of football”.
Mr Blatter has been in the post for 17 years, but has come under intense pressure in the last week folowing corruption allegations against Fifa officials.
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He said: Fifa needs a profound overhaul. 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 – the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at Fifa.
“Therefore, I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as Fifa president until that election. I will urge the executive committee to organise an extraordinary congress for the election of my successor at the earliest opportunity.
“Since I shall not be a candidate, and am therefore now free from the constraints that elections inevitably impose, I shall be able to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts.”
Mr Blatter was re-elected to the presidency after his only rival, Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, withdrew as a second round of voting was about to begin.
Alexandra Wrage, who served on an independent governance committee at Fifa, told Channel 4 News that Sepp Blatter’s decision to resign was a “very positive” step for the game, adding that while she had not witnessed “corruption” as such, she blamed a lack of transparency on “shoddy governance”.
Six days ago, the FBI raided a hotel in Zurich, where Fifa is based, and arrested several officials from world football’s governing body on charges of money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud.
A separate investigation is being carried out by the Swiss authorities into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
English Football Association Chairman Greg Dyke, a critic of Mr Blatter, said his resignation was “brilliant for world football”.
Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said: “We welcome his belated announcement today, but this is only the beginning of the process of change we need to see from Fifa. I sincerely hope this is the first step to a new Fifa that can command the confidence and respect of the football world once again.”
Uefa President Michel Platini, a possible replacement for Mr Blatter, welcomed the announcement. “It was a difficult decision, a brave decision, and the right decision,” he said.