ZURICH (Reuters) - Sepp Blatter has added to speculation he may try to stay on as head of world soccer’s governing body but a source told Reuters on Friday the 79-year old still intends to stand down as FIFA president.
Blatter’s comments to Swiss newspaper Blick — in which he said he had not resigned — seemed to be less final than on June 2 when he said he would step down as FIFA president and call a leadership election in the wake of a corruption scandal.
However, a FIFA source close to the story told Reuters on Friday that Blatter’s stance has not changed.
“He is going,” the source said. “He did not use the word resign on June 2 but he did say he was laying down his mandate and that is exactly what he intends to do.”
Blick said Blatter was speaking on Thursday in his first public appearance since the June 2 news conference.
“I have not resigned, rather I am offering my mandate at an extraordinary congress,” Blatter was quoted as saying in the article published on Friday.
A FIFA spokesman said by email: “We can confirm the quotes in Blick are accurate. They are in line with the speech of the President on June 2.”
A former Blatter adviser had said previously that the long-serving FIFA president could go back on his promise to stand down from his role.
FIFA said at the time that Klaus Stoehlker, who advised Blatter during this year’s FIFA election campaign, was no longer working with Blatter.
Fuelling scepticism over Blatter’s departure was his decision to stand for re-election in 2015 after pledging not to run again in the run-up to his 2011 victory.
Blatter, who was re-elected in May, is under pressure to leave sooner rather than later as U.S. and Swiss authorities investigate suspected bribery and corruption at FIFA. Blatter has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
Domenico Scala, the official overseeing the choice of a new president, has said Blatter’s departure is an “indispensable” part of planned reforms to soccer’s governing body.
Blatter spoke at an event for workers building the planned FIFA museum in Zurich, Blick reported.
Also on Friday, one of seven soccer officials arrested in Zurich last month on suspicion of racketeering following a U.S. extradition request had a request for bail rejected, with a Swiss court saying he posed a “risk of flight”.
Reporting by Joshua Franklin, Brian Homewood and Mike Collett; Editing by Mark Heinrich