Sepp Blatter sensationally quits Fifa days after election
Sepp Blatter's 17-year reign at the top of football came to a sensational end yesterday amid new claims that there must be a ''smoking gun'' behind his departure.
In a hastily arranged Press conference at Fifa's Zurich headquarters, just four days after having been elected president of the sport's governing body for a fifth term, the 79-year-old Swiss man announced his departure.
"While I have a mandate from the membership of Fifa, I do not feel I have a mandate from the entire world of football - the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at Fifa," he said.
"Therefore, I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as Fifa president until that election."
But his explanation was immediately ridiculed by the FA chairman Greg Dyke. In a scathing attack on the Fifa president, Dyke said that there must have been a major change in Blatter's situation between Friday and yesterday evening, when he stunned world football by announcing that he was to step down.
"I don't believe a word of this," he said. "If he believes that, why not step down last week when we asked him to? He was cock-a-hoop when he won (the election) and terribly arrogant. Clearly there is a smoking gun of some sort. This is nothing to do with Mr Blatter being honourable. He hasn't been honourable for years." Earlier, it emerged that a $10m (£6.5m) payment made by Fifa to disgraced Trinidadian football executive Jack Warner at the request of the South African government had come via a letter sent to Jerome Valcke, Fifa's secretary general.
This payment, in the view of US investigating authorities, was a bribe for Mr Warner who had voted for South Africa to host the World Cup, and the presence of Jerome Valcke's name on the letterhead confirmed what has been suspected for years but never proved - that corruption at Fifa rose right to the very top.
Culture Secretary John Whittingdale warned: "This is only the beginning of the process of change we need to see. I sincerely hope this is the first step to a new Fifa that can command the confidence and respect of the football world once again."