Blatter in profile: A look back on 17 years at the top of world football

After 17 years as FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced his resignation on Tuesday, here we look back on his time at the top of football.

Sepp Blatter's reign at the top of FIFA is set to come to an end in the coming months after he announced his resignation from the presidency. Here we look back at his 17-year tenure.

Early Years

Having joined FIFA in 1975, Blatter moved from his role as technical director to that of general secretary under the presidency of Brazilian Joao Havelange.

Presidential reign begins

After 17 years working for Havelange, Blatter succeeded his mentor in 1998 as he beat former UEFA president Lennart Johansson in the presidential election. Despite being the underdog, Blatter received 111 votes to Johansson's 80 and was handed victory when the Swede conceded defeat before the second ballot.

Criticisms and allegations emerge

Having brushed off allegations of bribery in 1998 Blatter was at the center of another scandal three years into his first term. A FIFA investigation into the collapse of a marketing partner labeled the president "clumsy" but confirmed he had no involvement in any "criminal or ethical misconduct."

Re-election for second term

Despite 11 members of the FIFA Executive Committee filing criminal complaints against him, Blatter won a second term at the top of football's governing body in 2002. Cameroonian candidate Issa Hayatou was his challenger, but he was unable to stop the popular president being re-elected. Blatter won 139 of the 195 votes cast.

Spreading the World Cup

Part of Blatter's presidential promises was to take football to all continents around the world and give some of the non-footballing powerhouses the chance to host the global showpiece - a promise he kept throughout his tenure. Having taken the competition to South Korea and Japan in 2002, it was South Africa's turn in 2010 - the first African nation to host the event. Blatter continued his push to make the competition a global event, and tiny Qatar was awarded hosting rights for 2022.

Third term secured

Blatter earned himself a third term in office in 2007 when he ran unopposed for re-election, and his popularity across the footballing world continued to grow despite previous allegations. However, the next big scandal began his slippery slope out of office. In 2010 the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups saw controversy rain down on the organization as Russia and Qatar were awarded the finals. Accusations of bribery, financial mismanagement and bid-rigging were made, although again none implicated the president.

Garcia investigation

Amid the controversy surrounding Russia and Qatar's bids, a FIFA Ethics Committee investigation into the process declared violations of their code had occurred, but deemed they had not affected the integrity of the vote. Michael Garcia, the man who researched the two bids, produced a report detailing his findings.

However, the full details of the report were never announced and Garcia quit from his role in protest following the Ethics Committee's verdict. The football world is still waiting to hear Garcia's findings in full.

Re-election unopposed

Although Mohamed bin Hammam put himself forward as a presidential candidate to rival Blatter in 2011, the Qatari soon withdrew his bid after reports of bribery for votes during his campaign. Blatter was duly re-elected.

Scandal rocks 2015 FIFA Congress

With a fifth election only days away, FIFA was thrown into turmoil on May 27 as Swiss authorities arrested nine FIFA officials as part of a United States Department of Justice investigation into corruption allegations.

Blatter was again not implicated but the scandal marred the upcoming election against Prince Ali bin Al Hussein. However, Blatter prevailed once again as he secured enough votes to win the first ballot before Prince Ali withdrew.


The re-elected president promised to "fix" FIFA after securing a fifth term but four days later, amid more controversy over an alleged bribe paid by the South African government for the 2010 hosting rights, Blatter resigned.