FIFA President Sepp Blatter to resign amid scandal
© Getty Images

Sepp Blatter, the longtime FIFA president who seemed to escape an international corruption scandal revealed last week, announced Tuesday he plans to resign. 

"We need here a structural change of a profound nature," Blatter said during a hastily scheduled press conference at the soccer governing body's headquarters in Zurich. 

"I appreciate and love FIFA more than anything else, and I only want to do the best for football and for FIFA and our institution," said Blatter. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Shortly after his announced, law enforcement officials confirmed to The New York Times that Blatter was included in the focus of a growing U.S. corruption investigation.

The probe targets officials in FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the body regulating and promoting soccer worldwide, and others in South America and the Caribbean.

The initial U.S. indictment alleged that sports marketing executives paid more than $150 million in kickbacks and bribes for media and rights to market international soccer matches since 1991.

Blatter, who has served as president of FIFA since 1998, acknowledged his reelection to a fifth term last week had not calmed uproar in the wake of a corruption inquiry. 

"FIFA needs a profound restructuring," he said Tuesday, calling for a new election as soon as possible.

Blatter said his mandate to stay on as president "does not seem to be supported by everybody." 

A speaker who followed Blatter on Tuesday clarified it would take a minimum of four months to hold a special election.

Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, who conceded to Blatter before a second round of voting last week, said he would run again, along with former French soccer player David Ginola.

Blatter faced intense international pressure last week, after the U.S. indicted more than a dozen FIFA and associated officials on charges including corruption and bribery.

Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) had called on FIFA's congress to elect a president other than Blatter hours before the U.S. indictment was announced, hoping a new soccer chief would not allow Russia to host the 2018 World Cup.

Blatter was not named in the initial 47-count U.S. indictment. Swiss authorities said they were also investigating FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

This story was updated at 5:26 p.m.