GENEVA — Stop flirting with the FIFA presidency and say for sure you are going.
Sepp Blatter got a clear message on Sunday from FIFA election monitor Domenico Scala to end speculation he wants to stay in office.
"The times of flirting with the power are definitely gone," Scala said in a statement at the end of a week in which Blatter's toying with the word "resign" suggested the president of world football's governing body planned to hang on despite a growing corruption crisis.
"I call on all concerned — including Mr. Blatter — to endorse in the interest of the reforms unequivocally the announced changing of the guard at the top of FIFA," Scala said.
Blatter announced his planned exit on June 2 amid a crisis provoked by American and Swiss federal investigations of alleged bribery, racketeering and money laundering, implicating senior FIFA officials.
Three weeks ago, the newly re-elected FIFA leader insisted he would not be a candidate in a fresh ballot to be held between December and March.
However, Blatter has since fueled talk of a U-turn at FIFA by saying he technically did not resign.
Blatter's choice of words is that he "laid down his mandate" which a special election congress of FIFA's 209 member associations will reallocate within months.
The wordplay has provoked Scala, chairman of FIFA's independent audit and compliance committee, to send a clearer message.
Earlier this month, Scala used more diplomatic language when he said that "it is clearly indispensable to follow through with the initiated process of leadership change as it has been announced."
Blatter and Scala are working together on a slate of modernizing reforms which could be approved at the election congress to be held in Zurich.
In an interview with Blatter published on Saturday by Swiss daily Walliser Bote, the outgoing FIFA president said early 2016 was a realistic date for the election.
Blatter repeated to his local newspaper that he would not be a candidate, and felt it "liberating" to decide to leave FIFA after 40 years.