BESIEGED world governing body Fifa were last night embroiled in further turmoil following the abrupt departure of communications director Walter de Gregorio.
The 50-year-old left his position suddenly amid suggestions of a falling-out over a joke he told on Swiss television earlier this week. De Gregorio had quipped: “The Fifa president, secretary general and communications director are in a car. Who’s driving? Answer: The police.”
The joke is believed to have upset senior Fifa figures, while De Gregorio was said to be equally unimpressed by an article written by outgoing president Sepp Blatter’s public relations advisor, Klaus J. Stohlker, which was critical of him.
“Walter de Gregorio has decided to relinquish his office with immediate effect as director of communications and public affairs,” read a Fifa statement.
Fifa also confirmed that De Gregorio, who held the position since September 2011, will serve the organisation on a consultancy basis until the end of the year.
Blatter’s exit, meanwhile, moved a step closer yesterday after Fifa announced that an extraordinary meeting of its executive committee will take place on 20 July.
During that forum, the date of congress at which the presidential election will be staged is to be finalised, with 16 December believed to be a strong possibility.
Blatter, 79, announced his intention to leave his post as president at a hastily-arranged press conference a week ago, just four days after being re-elected for a fifth term.
His decision came with scandal-hit Fifa in crisis following a week in which seven serving officials were indicted by the United States Department of Justice on allegations of corruption and fraud totalling $150m (£98m).