Sepp Blatter is set to face the media next week for the first time since announcing he is stepping down as FIFA president.
Last week Blatter turned down a U.S. Senate panel invitation to appear before them this Wednesday to discuss the FIFA scandals. He was not the only one. US Soccer Federation president and FIFA executive committee member Sunil Gulati also declined to testify. The timing of the Senate hearing is again peculiar, if not politically opportunisitic, as the US is currently in the middle of hosting the 12-nation CONCACAF Gold Cup with the US team currently unbeaten and looking to defend its title.
President Blatter and his secretary general Jerome Valcke will take part in a news conference following an executive committee meeting on Monday July 21 to set the date for the extraordinary FIFA Congress that will elect a new president. The meeting will also discuss possible structural reforms according to the published agenda. These are likely to include recommending having executive committee members elected by FIFA’s entire 209-nation Congress rather than by individual confederations.
Joseph “Sepp” Blatter was elected for a fifth term May 29 but dramatically announced four days later that he was stepping down under increasing pressure from sponsors in the wake of the ongoing corruption scandal that has engulfed his battered organisation.
Clearly shocked by the scale of FIFA’s crisis, Blatter did not take any questions from journalists at the time but has since given a handful of interviews to German-speaking media. Monday represents the first time the media at large will have the opportunity to quiz him on his decision to stand down in the wake of 14 high-ranking football and sports marketing executives, including several prominent FIFA members, being indicted in the United States on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges involving more than $150m.
Seven of those accused were arrested by Swiss police in that infamous dawn raid on a luxury Zurich hotel two days before the FIFA Congress where Blatter was re-elected.
The strategy of the 79-year-old Swiss is to use his final months as president to try and push through a series of reforms in order to take some of the credit for widespread change and leave FIFA on a positive note. He is keen that all executive committee members be subject to independent integrity checks by FIFA’s ethics committee.