Blatter quit as pressures rapidly built from all sides

Tue Jun 2, 2015 10:44pm EDT
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By Ian Chadband

LONDON (Reuters) - “Who got him? Who shot him? What happened between then and now?” asked the English Football Association’s chairman Greg Dyke, a former TV executive as he pondered the downfall of Sepp Blatter, who announced his resignation as FIFA president on Tuesday.

    Others may have put the questions in a less colorful way but they were still the main ones on everyone's lips.

As parts of the soccer world celebrated his departure, many could only ask how a man who last Friday was seen clasping his hands together and crying “Let’s go FIFA!” after his re-election to the top job at the sport's governing body was now to be found surrendering quietly.

The contrasting image was now of 79-year-old Blatter being ushered off stage towards a back-door exit after a short resignation speech in Zurich, looking suddenly very fragile.

After all, this was Blatter we were talking about, widely known as the most able sports mover and shaker of his time. A modern-day Houdini who had won many skirmishes with opponents was never expected to depart so quietly.

    So what did happen? What got Blatter to recognize so suddenly his time was up? Was it because FBI agents have just too much information about dubious payments involving FIFA officials to easily shake off their questions?

Or was it just the understanding of a wise old politician who recognized that the squeeze being applied by everyone from disgruntled sponsors to unhappy former soccer stars would lead to suffocation of his hopes for FIFA sooner rather than later.

    In his departure announcement, Blatter sought to explain that his resignation was a noble gesture to help the game he loved, and there were plenty of his allies - and some foes - who were happy to play along with the narrative.   Continued...

FIFA President Sepp Blatter leaves the stage after making a speech during the opening ceremony of the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, in this May 28, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files