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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

FIFA communications chief Walter De Gregorio resigns three days after joke

FIFA's director of communications and public affairs Walter De Gregorio resigned on Thursday, three days after telling a joke about world football's governing body on a TV talk show.

On Monday, De Gregorio was a guest of host Roger Schawinski on German-language station SRF. Schawinski closed the show by asking De Gregorio to tell his favourite joke about FIFA.

De Gregorio set up the punchline by asking who was driving if himself, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and secretary general Jerome Valcke were in a car.

After a pause for the host to comment, De Gregorio gave the answer: "The police."

Since 2011, De Gregorio has been a senior aide to Blatter, who announced his resignation on June 2 amid corruption and bribery allegations.

The ouster continues Blatter's long-standing pattern of removing officials who speak out against him.

De Gregorio, who has dual Swiss-Italian nationality, was the first representative of the organisation to face the media on the day several FIFA members were arrested in dawn raids on a Zurich hotel last month.

Walter De Gregorio steps down from FIFA after four years in his role.

His deputy, Nicolas Maingot, will step into the role on an interim basis. FIFA said De Gregorio will stay on as consultant until the end of the year.

Valcke said in a statement: "Walter has worked incredibly hard for the past four years and we are immensely grateful for all he has done.

"I am glad we will be able to continue to draw on his expertise until the end of the year."

Earlier on Thursday, members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg urged outgoing president Sepp Blatter to leave his post immediately, rather than wait until a successor has been elected toward the end of the year.

FIFA responded by announcing that its executive committee will meet on July 20 in Zurich to decide when from December to February the election to decide Blatter's successor should be held.

Still, Blatter praised FIFA's handling of the ongoing corruption crisis in the organisation's in-house magazine.

"FIFA is going through difficult times," Blatter said in an excerpt of his column released on Thursday. "This makes me all the more proud that our organization runs smoothly in a crisis."

Blatter appeared to be referring to the smooth-running Under-20 and Women's World Cups in New Zealand and Canada. However, in what seemed like strange timing, the advance extract from Blatter's weekly column in a FIFA online magazine was released two hours after De Gregorio's exit was announced.

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