In what signifies the end of an era in world football, FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced his resignation on Tuesday amid the corruption scandal that has rocked FIFA’s world governing body.
Speaking at a news conference in Zurich, Blatter said he would remain in his position until a special election can be held to appoint his successor.
Domenico Scala, the chairman of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee, said an election would be held sometime between December 2015 and March 2016.
Blatter was just re-elected to a fifth term as president at the FIFA Congress on Friday, two days after a corruption crisis erupted and seven officials were arrested in Zurich.
Blatter spoke in French but FIFA later published a copy of his speech in English.
“FIFA needs a profound overhaul,” Blatter said, according to FIFA’s translation. “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 [as president] at an extraordinary elective congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as FIFA president until that election.
Blatter joined FIFA in 1975 as technical director for development projects, was promoted to general secretary in 1981 and spent 17 years as right-hand man to Joao Havelange of Brazil before being elected to lead world soccer in 1998.
“I have been reflecting deeply about my presidency and about the 40 years in which my life has been inextricably bound to FIFA and the great sport of football,” he said. “I cherish FIFA more than anything 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.”
Scala gave a statement immediately after Blatter in which he praised a decision that was “difficult and courageous in the current circumstances.”
“This is the most responsible way to ensure an orderly transition,” Scala said.
Scala said FIFA’s laws only permit the election of the president at a FIFA Congress, but both he and Blatter said waiting until next May would be too long to wait.
“The next ordinary FIFA Congress will take place on May 13, 2016, in Mexico City. This would create unnecessary delay and I will urge the executive committee to organise an extraordinary congress for the election of my successor at the earliest opportunity,” Blatter said.
“This will need to be done in line with FIFA’s statutes and we must allow enough time for the best candidates to present themselves and to campaign.”