Sepp Blatter has described his decision to step down as FIFA president as “liberating” and says he is not a candidate to remain as head of football’s world governing body.
Last month, Blatter won a fifth term as FIFA chief before resigning the role four days later, amid the scandal that saw nine past and present FIFA officials indicted on charges of racketeering conspiracy and corruption.
There has since been speculation that Blatter could be tempted to seek a sixth term in office, with the 79-year-old fuelling such talk himself when he stated on Friday: “I have not resigned, rather I am offering my mandate at an extraordinary congress.”
It now appears, though, that Blatter will walk away when elections take place at FIFA’s Extraordinary Congress, which is expected to take place in early 2016.
“I am not a candidate, but the elected president,” Blatter said in an interview with Swiss newspaper Walliser Bote, published on Saturday. “I want to hand over FIFA in good condition.”
He also revealed that a weight of pressure had been lifted by his decision to stand down, before insisting that he will seek to pass on a strong organisation to his successor.
“The decision to go is definitely liberating. For FIFA and for myself,” he added.
“I am still president of FIFA and fully capable of acting. FIFA and football have been the most important part of my life for 40 years. So I will use all my strength and inspiration up to my last working day to steer the ship back into the safe harbour.
“It [leaving FIFA] was the only way to take away the pressure from FIFA and my employees, including [pressure] from the sponsors. To remove FIFA and me personally from the line of fire.”
FIFA’s Executive Committee is set to choose an election date at a meeting on July 20.