Sepp Blatter reaffirms he is stepping down as FIFA president

Since announcing that he would resign earlier this month, FIFA President Sepp Blatter reportedly has been mulling over whether he should remain as the leader of soccer's beleaguered governing body.

But in an interview published Saturday by the Swiss newspaper Walliser Bote, Blatter reaffirmed he won't be a candidate in the next FIFA presidential election. He characterized his resignation as "liberating" and necessary in the wake of ongoing American and Swiss criminal corruption investigations into FIFA.

“It was the only way to take away the pressure from FIFA and my employees, including [pressure] from the sponsors,” Blatter said about his June 2 resignation. “To remove FIFA and me personally from the line of fire."

Blatter promised he would not run in FIFA's next presidential election, which is expected to be held sometime in early 2016.

“I am not a candidate, but the elected president,” Blatter said in an interview given several days ago. "And I want to hand over FIFA in good condition.

“I am still president of FIFA and fully capable of acting," he continued. "FIFA and football have been the most important part of my life for 40 years,” Blatter said. "So I will use all my strength and inspiration up to my last working day to steer the ship back into the safe harbor."

Blatter, 79, was reelected to a fifth presidential term last month just days after the U.S. Justice Department announced indictments against 14 individuals with ties FIFA. He is part of an FBI criminal probe, but no charges have been filed against him.

Blatter said his top priority over the final months of his presidency will be to introduce modernizing reforms in time for approval at next year's election congress.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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