FIFA’s hopes of rebuilding its reputation were hijacked Monday by a British comedian who showered the president of football’s world governing body with what appeared to be fake money.
As Blatter took to the stage at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, he was ambushed by Simon Brodkin – aka Lee Nelson – who recently interrupted Kanye West’s performance at the Glastonbury Festival.
Blatter was unharmed but looked nervous as the notes were thrown towards him. The Swiss later returned to answer questions regarding FIFA’s latest plans to clean up its act.
Earlier in the day, FIFA had announced it will elect Blatter’s successor on February 26, 2016.
The Swiss has led FIFA since 1998 but decided to stand down on June 2 as the game’s world governing body battled two corruption scandals.
“I cannot be a candidate for the election in 2016,” the 79-year-old said after he had regained his composure.
“Now there will be an election for a new president. I cannot be the new president, because I am an old president.”
Blatter was keen to stress that he intends to finish over 40 years’ work at FIFA when his reign comes to an end next year.
“My mission is to make sure that at the end of February, at the end of my career, we have once again started to reform and rebuild the reputation of FIFA,” he said. “This is important for me.”
Admitting to regrets over the current FIFA crisis, Blatter described the Executive Committee’s decisions on Monday as constituting a “very important day for football.”
Among the proposed reforms are integrity checks for those voted onto FIFA’s 24-person Executive Committee, higher standards of governance, salary disclosure and the introduction of term limits.
It has been recommended that the FIFA President serve no more than three four-year terms, but Blatter would like to see the ruling go further.
“You have to reduce the number of mandates of the members, not only the president but everybody in FIFA – the confederations and below,” said Blatter. “Then you will have a right solution.”
FIFA will create a ‘Reforms’ Task Force to engineer the latest changes deemed necessary to bring respectability to the organisation that shapes the world’s most popular sport.
An “independent personality” will preside over the 11-person Task Force, which will include representatives from every FIFA confederation.
In the not-too-distant future, the Task Force might find that it comes under scrutiny from a radio reporter by the name of Blatter.
“On February 26, I think I will come back to my world. I was a journalist but this time, I will go to radio,” smiled Blatter, who expressed a preference to cover international politics.
“It is easier to speak than to write.”
Anyone wishing to replace Blatter must announce his or her candidacy by October 26, and have the backing of five member associations.
So far only two men – former Brazil international Zico and Liberian FA president Musa Bility – have announced their candidacy, but a wave of new names is expected now a timeline has been announced.
There is increasing speculation that Michel Platini may stand for the top job in world football.
The Frenchman, who was reelected UEFA president earlier this year, was asked by four of six confederations to consider standing following overnight talks in Switzerland.
CNN has been told that Platini has yet to decide whether he will stand for the post.
Once tipped as Blatter’s successor, Platini’s relationship with the FIFA president has soured in recent times – and the latter steered clear of endorsing his campaign in any way.
“The Executive Committee has decided that the electoral process will start today so I wish all the candidates the best success – and also to Michel Platini,” said Blatter.
FIFA was plunged into crisis in late May when seven officials were charged for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering by the FBI.
The charges are part of a U.S. prosecution that indicted a total of 14 people from around the globe.
Meanwhile, a separate probe by Swiss authorities is investigating potential corruption into the bidding process for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Executive Committee member Marco Polo del Nero, who left Zurich one day after the arrests in May, missed Monday’s meeting when opting to stay home in his native Brazil, a country that forbids the extradition of Brazilians.