Two weeks after announcing that he would be stepping down as head of FIFA at some point in the next few months, Sepp Blatter reportedly is reconsidering that decision.
Citing an unnamed source it says is close to Blatter, the Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag reported that the African and Asian soccer associations had asked him to reconsider his decision. As a result, the 79-year-old Blatter, who was elected to his fifth term just days before he resigned, is reconsidering the surprise decision he announced June 2, even as an investigation into corruption under his 17-year watch is proceeding.
FIFA had no comment on the report but, on Sunday afternoon, Domenico Scala, who is overseeing the presidential election and heads up FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, responded, stating plainly that Blatter should think again about trying to stay on.
“For me, the reforms are the central topic,” Scala said in a statement (via the Associated Press). “That is why I think it is clearly indispensable to follow through with the initiated process of leadership change as it has been announced.”
FIFA’s executive committee will meet July 20 in Zurich to set a date to elect Blatter’s successor. Last week, members of the 28-nation European Parliament voted on a resolution calling for Blatter to speed up his announced resignation and allow the appointment of an interim leader.
What’s going on here, besides the very formidable backing of the African and Asian associations? It’s Blatter showing that he still has some power as evidenced by the departure of Walter De Gregorio as FIFA’s director of communications last week, the newspaper says. De Gregorio, who had no comment for the paper, had urged Blatter to step down.
Amid reports that he was fired, De Gregorio resigned after he obliged a request to tell his favorite FIFA joke on a talk show last week. “The FIFA president, secretary general and communications director are in a car. Who’s driving?” he said. “The police.”
De Gregorio was quickly out of a job and Blatter, well, he used his column in FIFA’s in-house magazine Friday to give himself a pat on the back.
“The fact that our organization continues to function smoothly and provides football with a firm foundation at this time of crisis makes me all the prouder,” Blatter wrote.
This post, published earlier June 14, has been updated with the FIFA election chief’s comments.