Sepp Blatter says deciding to leave FIFA was “liberating” and he expects the election to replace him will be in early 2016.
In an interview with Swiss newspaper Walliser Bote, Blatter explained his planned FIFA exit that he announced on June 2 amid American and Swiss investigations of corruption in world football.
Blatter said: “It was the only way to take away the pressure from FIFA and my employees, including [pressure] from the sponsors. To remove FIFA and me personally from the line of fire.”
On Friday, Blatter fuelled speculation about his future by insisting he has not resigned as FIFA president, though the governing body says Blatter’s plans to step down have not changed.
Asked “hand on heart” if he would renege on his promise to go, Blatter said: “I am not a candidate, but the elected president. And I want to hand over FIFA in good condition.”
Blatter said the “realistic” election date is the beginning of 2016, avoiding a clash with December’s FIFA Club World Cup.