Despite announcing earlier this month that he would step down as FIFA president, Sepp Blatter felt the need to clarify Thursday that he has not resigned from office and has no intention of showing himself the door.
At a party for the launch of the new $200 million FIFA museum on Thursday in Zurich, Switzerland, Blatter told guests, "I did not resign. I put myself and my office in the hands of the FIFA congress," according to Blick.
To an assembled chorus of cheers and clapping, the 79-year-old continued his defiant speech.
“Only those who know the past can understand the present and shape the future," he said. "Or in other words: the ball is round -- but only those who come from outer space know the actual dimensions of our sport ... For me personally, the museum is a labor of love. But do not get me wrong: I’m not ready for the museum nor for a waxwork yet.”
FIFA has tried to backtrack Blatter's own words for him, telling The Guardian that Blatter would not run again for the presidency and will "lay down his mandate."
On June 2, four days after being re-elected to a record fifth term as FIFA president, Blatter was thought to have conceded his office under immense pressure from the international community following arrests and corruption charges for 14 top FIFA officials. (Blatter is also reported to be under investigation from U.S. authorities in the wake of the May 27 arrests.)
"I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective congress," Blatter said at the time. "I will continue to exercise my functions as FIFA president until that election."
He also added "I shall not be a candidate," in his speech. But nowhere in his speech did Blatter use the word "resign" or "resignation," and just 12 days later BBC reported that "everything is open" in regards to Blatter potentially running in an expected mid-December "extraordinary elective congress" for FIFA president. Blatter even scheduled meetings with other top officials in mid-June to determine if he could win a sixth term, according to BBC.
Blatter's Thursday comments have fueled speculation that he's intending on running again. Former Blatter adviser Klaus Stöhlker told The Guardian that this was a distinct possibility if "there was no other viable candidate."
If history is any indication, the "will he or won't he?" game between Blatter and his office will only continue. In 2011, he promised that he'd step down in 2015 after his fourth term -- which, of course, turned out to be untrue.
Another rope-a-dope move from Blatter could be in play here, but considering recent exposure of all the terrible things FIFA has allegedly done during his 17-year reign at the top of world soccer, reneging on his word again could finally be too problematic, even for Blatter.
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