Nationwide’s Oliver Watt looks back at the career Mr Blatter — one of the most divisive figures in world sport…
And the extraordinary circumstances leading to his decision to quit today.
It’s all so extraordinary the way Sepp Blatter rose in FIFA, the way he led it and the way he chose to give it all up.
From the moment of his election as FIFA president in 1998, Blatter has been fighting off critics.
They said he won only because of vote buying.
The presidency was the ultimate prize for Blatter who joined FIFA in 1975 as a Technical Director.
The ex Colonel in the Swiss army set to out to change FIFA and world football.
He wanted to make it a truly global game.
Under Blatter, FIFA pumped millions of dollars into grassroots projects in Africa, the Caribbean and across the world — providing technical centres, trainers, and pitches, among other things to several developing countries.
It was under his leadership that the first world cup in Asia was staged in Japan and South Korea in 2002.
He oversaw the decision to award the tournament to South Africa in 2010 — the first African world cup.
It was also during his tenure that the Arab state of Qatar won a successful bid to stage the world cup in 2022.
But there were several crises along the way… many to do with allegations of corruption.
For his several opponents, that famous retort to claims that FIFA is in crisis is the problem with Blatter’s leadership.
They say he hasn’t devoted time to clean up the image of FIFA which has badly deteriorated during his 17 year leadership.
Though there were whispers about Blatter’s leadership and the need to get him out, he stood unopposed as FIFA president for 13 years.
Only last week Blatter was elected to a fifth consecutive term as president despite the arrest of 7 FIFA executives in a 150 million dollar scandal just days before the vote.
He was a man determined to stay on.
On Saturday — one day after his re-election — he faced the media in a combative exchange. He was asked whether he feared being arrested as part of the corruption investigation.
He was equally dismissive when asked about a 10 million dollar bribe allegedly paid to ex-FIFA VP Jack Warner
But Blatter has seen the problems in FIFA and has pledged to fix them even as he announces his plan to step down.
His opponents call him a dictator who needed to be plucked out of FIFA.
But today he defied them once more — choosing the moment of his departure for himself… demonstrating once again that he does it, his way.