Wednesday, June 3, 2015

(Sports) Blatter: Blatter Resigns – What’s Next for FIFA?

While Blatter suddenly resigning and ending his 17 year reign at FIFA shocked football, no one was in need of a Kleenex for sorrowful tears as the swiss mountain goat (as Blatter strangely compared himself to in an interview in New Zealand) has run his course.

After handily winning an election everybody knew he was going win and his tone deaf victory speech, you would have thought the mountain goat was really going to stick around for four years despite a growing number of current and former members of FIFA’s executive committee are under investigation for bribery in relation to FIFA’s bidding process.

However, knowing that he is easily the most unpopular man in the sport he runs, Blatter, for once, did the right thing and step down for the good of the game. But in truth, we won’t really know why he stepped down but various reports suggest that Blatter has been implicated in a $10m payment to the South African FA currently being investigated by the FBI that ended up in an account, according to the Telegraph, “controlled by the disgraced former vice president Jack Warner”[1].

While we’re not entirely sure that Blatter is implicated in any of the scandals or is being investigated by the FBI or Swiss authorities, the abrupt nature of his departure suggests that the walls were closing in fast on a man who has for 17 years appeared unflappable despite FIFA being known worldwide as the most corrupt sporting organization on the planet

US authorities, like much of the footballing world, aren’t fans of now former FIFA president and not so long ago issued thinly veiled threats that they may arrest Blatter should he step foot on US soil. No one really knows or cares what Blatter does as yesterday Blatter did the only thing fans and insiders wanted from him – resign from the presidency and let somebody else in to reform a truly rotten organization that’s been corrupt for decades.

With the departure of Blatter, the only question that seems to matter is who’s going to take over FIFA and are they capable of reforming the organization. Former Blatter presidential rival Prince Ali bin Hussein looks to be the main frontrunner at the moment as he had strong support in Europe and with Blatter gone, his voting bloc in Asia and Africa is now up for grabs. Prince Ali proved himself a smart pragmatist as he tried to appease both sides of long established divide between European countries in FIFA and just about everywhere else when he promised to limit presidential terms to two terms and increase the places in the World Cup from 32 to 36 which appeal to both factions.

He represents the safest vote as far as Blatter’s former Asian and African voting bloc is concerned as he was the only presidential candidate who stayed in the race until the end and was particular cautious about criticizing Blatter’s reign despite the growing controversy surrounding the election.

However, with Blatter gone, there will be a number of suitors for the presidency with former Manchester United Chief Executive David Gill rumored to launch a bid and former presidential candidates Michael Van Praag and Luis Figo sure to get back in the running. Current UEFA president Michel Platini has been tipped to be FIFA president and was seen to be Blatter’s heir apparent until they fell out with each other when Blatter promised to stand down after his fourth term only to stand and win re-election a few months later.

In sum, whatever happens in the next few months, FIFA and whoever ends up taking on the FIFA presidency has a real opportunity to change the organization for the better as the mood for change among football fans and insiders is high but given neither fans or insider can vote for FIFA president, the real challenge is going be whether the new FIFA president can bring an organization impervious to change. The answer we hope for is a resounding yes as the integrity of the sport depends on it.

[1] The Telegraph, 2015, Sepp Blatter stands down as FIFA president – the life, times and controversies which damaged his career,

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