FIFA president Sepp Blatter confirmed during a press conference Monday he will step down next year after nearly two decades of leading the world's governing soccer body.
Before the press conference began, security personnel had to haul off comedian Simon Brodkin, who got out of his seat to throw fake money at Blatter while announcing a fake North Korea bid for the 2026 World Cup. Brodkin also interrupted Kanye West’s concert in England last month.
“This has nothing to do with football," Blatter said, leaving for a few minutes before returning after the money was picked up off of the floor.
Blatter said in June that he would leave his post after 18 years as FIFA's president, just four days after he won a fifth four-year term by beating Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein in a vote.
"I kicked the ball out of the field to stop something…..but I am still the elected president," Blatter said on his resignation, during the nearly 30-minute press conference. "On Feb. 26, FIFA will have a new president. I cannot be the new president because I'm an old president."
"I will come back to my work, my hobby, as a journalist. This time I will go to radio. It's easier to speak to than write," Blatter added.
FIFA also announced numerous reform measures Monday, including integrity checks for Executive Committee members, term limit introductions, higher standards of governance at all levels of football structures, and disclosure of compensation for all members. The reform process will be carried out by a new, specific "FIFA Task Force," comprising of members of each of the six football confederations. When Blatter was asked how much compensation he receives, he refused to say.
"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."
“Gives the impression 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.”
Blatter’s comments came after the extraordinary elective Congress decided the vote to replace Blatter will take place on Feb. 26 in Zurich. A two-thirds majority is required from the 209 national federations in the first round of voting to win the election. If that fails, then a simple majority is required.
On May 27, 14 former FIFA officials were indicted and charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies by the United States Justice Department, which accused FIFA of decades of "rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted" corruption by members of world soccer's governing body.
Blatter, 79, is reportedly under investigation for bribery and racketeering by several U.S. federal agencies and accused of corruption after being linked to officials taking bribes in efforts to secure lucrative broadcast rights and hosting votes for international tournaments.
A FIFA spokesman said the organization is cooperating with the investigation.
- Scooby Axson