ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter said in a newspaper interview on Saturday that he will not stand as a candidate to remain the head of world soccer’s governing body at a special elective congress of member associations which he called for earlier this month.
“I am not a candidate, I am the president. And I want to hand over FIFA in good condition,” the 79-year-old told Walliser Bote, a Swiss newspaper in the Valais region where Blatter is from.
The comments come a day after Blatter told Swiss daily newspaper Blick that he had not resigned, attempting to distinguish between stepping down and giving up his mandate at the as yet unscheduled special congress.
A FIFA source later told Reuters that meant that Blatter still intends to stand down as FIFA president.
In Saturday’s interview, Blatter played down his lame-duck status and highlighted the reforms that he hopes to push through.
“I will use all my strength and inspiration until my last working day to bring this ship back into safe harbor,” Blatter is quoted by Walliser Bote as saying.
A spokeswoman for FIFA said the quotes were accurate.
Although Blatter has said on several occasions that he will not stand again for president his comments about his intention to step down in the wake of the corruption scandal have been treated with scepticism by his critics.
“While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel I have a mandate from the entire world of soccer - the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love soccer as much as we all do at FIFA,” Blatter told a news conference on June 2.
“This is why I will call an extraordinary congress to be held as soon as possible, for a new president to be elected to follow me,” he said.
Before starting his fourth mandate in 2011 Blatter said it would be his last term in office, but later changed his mind, saying that numerous federations had asked him to stand.
Reporting by Katharina Bart and Brian Homewood Editing by Angus MacSwan and Greg Mahlich