When Sepp Blatter was re-elected as FIFA president two days after the organisation was plunged into its greatest crisis with 14 of its current or former officials embroiled in accusations of bribery, the organisation’s credibility, or what little of it was left, was effectively destroyed.
It wasn’t the biggest surprise in the world that Blatter had managed to retain enough support to see off his rival Prince Ali of Jordan, but it was a tainted victory amid the stench of corruption and even a master politician like him must have known then that the game was up.
He could have withdrawn from the election but chose not to do that, probably because that would have meant an unpalatable surrender.
To win the election, as was likely, was a final show of defiance to his critics and then he had the luxury of deciding when to resign, doing the decent thing on his own terms. In other words he had control.
— Kevin Brennan (@KevinBrennanMP) June 3, 2015
Quite how short his final tenure would be we did not know but the growing bribery crisis which has engulfed international football wasn’t about to go away and it got considerably more uncomfortable for Blatter and his allies yesterday with more revelations about the $10m paid by South Africa in an alleged bribe to get the 2010 World Cup.
Claims that FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke was involved in that process were denied by FIFA but a letter from the South African FA which appeared to be addressed to Valcke supported the story.
Hours later Blatter quit, saying he felt he no longer had the support of world football. You don’t say!
The moment outside authorities and the police got involved in this corruption investigation it was always going to be the turning point for Blatter, FIFA and world football which has been kicked in the teeth too many times.
— Frank Carlson (@frankncarlson) June 3, 2015
Although there is no suggestion that he has done anything legally wrong, this all happened on his watch and his poor leadership has long been under scrutiny, slowly eroding the foundations of an empire which has now collapsed around his ears.
As you would expect, Blatter’s resignation statement is considered and well worded with the message that he is sacrificing his position for the good of the game coming across loud and clear.
All the comments he makes about changes being needed from top to bottom at FIFA, including fixed term limits for the president and all members of the executive committee are obvious and his self-portrayal as an exasperated victim who tried to bring changes but was blocked, was predictable.
He says: “I have fought for these changes before and as everyone knows, my efforts have been blocked. This time, I will succeed.”
It will be his successor who will hopefully succeed, not him and the sooner a new president is appointed– and it must be someone strong enough to bulldoze what’s left of FIFA and start again – the better it will be for everyone.
What Blatter has done is to give football a chance to dig out the rot and change FIFA for good with transparency a priority.
UEFA president Michel Platini used the word ‘brave’ to describe Blatter’s decision to go. I will use two words…Good riddance.
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