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European Parliament urges Sepp Blatter to quit FIFA presidency now

The European Parliament has called for FIFA President Sepp Blatter to step down now, and for a process of reform to begin. At present, Blatter is to preside over the organization ahead of a vote for his replacement.

FIFA should immediately appoint a new interim leader to replace Sepp Blatter in the run-up to a vote for a more permanent leader, the European Parliament said n Thursday.

A text calling for Blatter to leave immediately was overwhelmingly approved by lawmakers in Strasbourg.

The election is set to take place at an extraordinary FIFA congress, to be held between December this year and the following March. Blatter is currently set to remain in post until vote takes place. Under current FIFA rules, four months must elapse between the application deadline for candidates and the presidential vote, with neither date yet set.

Lawmakers welcomed the 79-year-old Swiss's resignation, but expressed grave concern "that the credibility of FIFA, as world football's governing body, and the urgent reforms required, cannot begin in earnest until a new leadership is appointed."

Joseph Blatter

The parliament said FIFA could have no credibility under Blatter's leadership

The parliament "therefore calls on FIFA to select, in a transparent and inclusive way, an appropriate interim leader to replace Joseph Blatter forthwith," the text said.

'Damage at all levels'

The draft also said FIFA had seriously damaged the integrity of global football, with a "devastating impact" from the top level of professional soccer to amateur grassroots clubs.

The AFP news agency quoted a FIFA spokeswoman as saying the organization was "perplexed" by the parliament's resolution. "As he announced following his re-election, the FIFA president has already decided, owing to the special circumstances in which FIFA finds itself, to lay down his mandate at an extraordinary elective Congress."

FIFA was hit by crisis at the end of May, when 14 current or former FIFA officials were charged by Swiss authorities as part of an

FBI investigation into alleged corruption

.

The 14 former officials and marketing executives were accused by US prosecutors of taking part in a kickbacks scheme involving some $150 million in bribes.

The scandal surrounding FIFA also involves a Swiss investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

Blatter resigned

on June 2, four days after he was

re-elected as head of FIFA

for a fifth term in the immediate wake of the Swiss arrests. His only rival, Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al Hussain, withdrew from a second round of voting after he lost the first.

The statement from Strasbourg came as FIFA's director of communications

Walter de Gregorio is to leave office

with immediate effect. De Gregorio left the increasingly thankless job of defending the organization just three days after he told a self-deprecating joke on live television about FIFA officials, including himself, being driven away in a car by police.

rc/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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