— -- In a shocking announcement, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said today he is resigning from his post amid allegations of corruption among several of his members.
“I have deeply reflected on my presidency and my past 40 years at FIFA," Blatter said during a news conference in Zurich. "I love FIFA more than anything and I only want to do the best for football and FIFA."
Despite the recent arrests, Blatter was re-elected to a fifth term as leader of the world's governing soccer body last Friday.
This comes as sources familiar with the case told ABC News today that Blatter is being investigated by the FBI and U.S. prosecutors as part of the probe that led to last week’s stunning indictments.
Blatter, who is the eighth president of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, defeated Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan in last week's election.
Blatter, who was not indicted by the Justice Department, said he will serve as president until a new one is elected.
Days before the election, the U.S. Department of Justice accused 14 people of corruption and racketeering conspiracy in a 47-count indictment released last Wednesday. Nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were indicted, including two current FIFA vice presidents and the current and former presidents of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football), Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner.
The FBI declined to comment because Blatter has not been publicly identified as a target of the investigation. The sources said the feds are conducting the FIFA probe the same way they would handle an old-school New York-style racketeering case.
“Now that people are going to want to save themselves, there’s probably a race to see who will flip on [Blatter] first,” one source said, explaining how the feds typically try to get people to inform on their superiors.
“We may not be able to collapse the whole organization but maybe you don’t need to,” one of the sources said.
In a statement this afternoon, FIFA said: "The investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee takes note of the FIFA president’s announcement that he will be stepping down. The chamber will continue its mandate along with the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee of consistently ensuring compliance with FIFA’s Code of Ethics and will make this its highest priority, regardless of who is President. The body’s independence from the President, regardless of who is exercising this function, is a key part of good corporate governance."
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