Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, has been told that he must give up his prestigious position as football’s representative on the International Olympic Committee – the first indication that his global power base may be crumbling.
Blatter, automatically appointed as an IOC member in 1999 soon after becoming head of football’s world governing body, will be forced to step down when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 80 after the Rio Olympics in 2016.
This follows a number of reforms introduced this week by the new IOC president, Thomas Bach, his organisation deciding not to allow an extension for members beyond the age of 70 and refusing to implement a recommendation, backed by Blatter, that heads of governing bodies should be allowed to continue after reaching 80 to complete their terms of office.
Blatter, 78, is understood to be furious. When he was warned at an IOC meeting in Sochi earlier this year about the possibility of losing his seat, he called it “an act of discrimination” and said that members should only be voted out democratically if a change of membership was needed.
The 70-years age limit was brought in after Blatter became an IOC member as one of the reforms following the corruption scandals over the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 1999.
Blatter, under fire himself for the alleged corruption linked to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments in Russia and Qatar respectively, intends to stand for a fifth term as Fifa president next year.
But even if he wins, the IOC says he will not be able to continue as a member after 2016. The Swiss is expected to retain his Fifa post despite the increasing likelihood of challenges from former diplomat and top Fifa executive Jérôme Champagne and Harold Mayne-Nicholls, another ex-Fifa official of English and Croatian descent who ran the Chilean FA.
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