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EU Parliament urges Blatter to quit FIFA immediately

Sepp Blatter, 79, has been at the helm of football's governing body since 1998
Sepp Blatter, 79, has been at the helm of football's governing body since 1998 Fabrice Coffrini, AFP

The European Parliament called on Sepp Blatter Thursday to step down immediately as FIFA president and allow for an interim leader to reform football's governing body, which is engulfed in a massive corruption scandal.

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Members of parliament overwhelmingly voted for the resolution in a show of heands during a plenary session in Strasbourg, France.

The resolution is not legally binding, but it adds to the pressure on FIFA’s longtime leader.

Blatter, 79, tendered his resignation on June 2 but it will not take effect until December at the earliest.

In the text approved by parliament, EU lawmakers welcomed Blatter's resignation, which came just four days after he was re-elected as head of FIFA for a fifth term.

But it expressed serious concern "that the credibility of FIFA, as world football's governing body, and the urgent reforms required, cannot begin in earnest until a new leadership is appointed".

FIFA in turmoil

FIFA's image is now in tatters after 14 current or former officials as well as sports marketing executives were accused by US prosecutors of taking part in a kickbacks scheme going back 20 years and involving a total of $150 million in bribes.

The scandal, which erupted at the end of May, also involves a Swiss probe into the controversial award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

The legal troubles have cast a pall over the Copa America regional tournament, which opened in Chile on Thursday.

FIFA said Wednesday that the date of the extraordinary congress, during which Blatter's successor will be elected, will be announced in July.

The electoral congress must take place between December 2015 and March 2016, according to Domenico Scala, who supervises elections at FIFA.

Spokesman quits

While Blatter appears intent on staying on until the election, FIFA announced in a statement on Thursday that its spokesman and head of communications, Walter de Gregorio, had decided to relinquish his office “with immediate effect”.

The Swiss former journalist, who is closely tied to Blatter, joined football’s governing body after working on Blatter’s campaign team ahead of the 2011 presidential election.

He faced the media alone two weeks ago, in the hours after seven soccer officials were arrested by Swiss police in a dawn raid on the luxury hotel where FIFA was holding its annual congress.

FIFA said De Gregorio would be replaced by his deputy, Nicolas Maingot, but would stay on as a consultant until the end of the year.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, REUTERS)
 

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