Sepp Blatter’s news conference in Zurich took an unexpected twist before it began on Monday, but no comedian throwing wads of fake money around could stop the long-time FIFA president from getting out his message.
He is done at FIFA. For good.
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Blatter, 79, confirmed to reporters that he will leave FIFA following the next presidential election on Feb. 26, 2016 — that date was selected by high-ranking FIFA officials on Monday — and will not run for re-election.
The man who has been in charge of world soccer’s governing body for 17 years announced last month he would resign following the huge backlash regarding the shocking corruption scandal which unraveled after the Swiss authorities and U.S. Department of Justice launched seperate investigations and nine FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich on May 27.
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But Blatter will stay in charge until next February, meaning he will have been in charge for a further nine months after announcing his resignation.
Following intense pressure from leading soccer officials, sponsors and under intense scrutiny from both the Swiss authorities and the U.S. Department of Justice, Blatter decided to step down as president but in his first news conference since he resigned on June 2, he was first interrupted by British comedian Simon Brodkin throwing fake money at him, but then had the following to say when asked if he would run in the election to name his successor.
“I kicked the ball out of the field to stop something…..but I am still the elected president,” Blatter said. “On Feb. 26, FIFA will have a new president. I cannot be the new president because I’m an old president.”
Blatter was then asked what he would do after FIFA, whom he has been involved with for over 40 years. The Swiss official had a beaming smile on his face as he said the following.
“I will come back to my work, my hobby, as a journalist,” Blatter said. “This time I will go to radio. It’s easier to speak to than write.”
Asked repeatedly why he did not alert authorities about the actions of many top FIFA officials who are among 18 people to either be indicted or lodge guilty pleas with the FBI, Blatter brushed aside questions and also dismissed a question on if he will help the U.S. and Swiss authorities going forward.
“We are on the right track with improved governance and increased transparency,” Blatter said. “I can defend myself. It is my duty to defend FIFA… I am still alive after this tsunami on 27 May came to Zurich, the waves have taken me away? Not at all. Not at all.”