Having spent most of Friday afternoon with one ear to the farce that was the FIFA presidential election, I almost felt sorry for Sepp Blatter while listening to his acceptance speech for his 5th term as FIFA’s president.
Even after talk of corruption dogged his very first election as president in 1998, and FIFA has been embroiled in corruption allegations throughout his tenure, his speech was almost schoolboy-like. After the events of the last few days, the arrest of seven of his right hand men, and talk of hundreds of millions of dollars being used in bribery and corruption scandals, nothing fazed him, he was again head of the class.
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Resign? I haven’t done anything wrong! Instead, after the result, thanking everyone for their support, how FIFA’s name was going to be cleared. How he loved his audience, and loved his job. I almost got the impression that, had he resigned, or lost the vote, he would have left a broken man. Still wondering why his much loved football family had chosen to desert him.
Sepp Blatter – part of FIFA long before 1998:
Blatter joined FIFA way back in 1975 as a technical director, although he was involved in organising both the 1972, and 1976 Olympic Games. In 1981 until 1998 he was the General Secretary of FIFA, before being voted President in 1998. This first presidential election was itself marred by controversy, as allegations of paying for votes surfaced.
He was re-elected in 2002, and in 2007 for four more years. Again controversy surrounded his 2007 election. He was re-instated as President with just 66 nominations from a possible 207. Now in 2015, after having originally stating he wouldn’t stand for another term, he changed his mind.
Today, after seven arrests, multiple other members of FIFA’s ‘family’ charged with corruption, and talk of misused millions, he has again been elected for a further four years. This time though, things are too big to be swept under the carpet. Allegations go back over 20 years, to before Blatter was first, controversially, elected president.
Have his ambitions to spread football globally, been his downfall?
Undoubtedly Sepp Blatter has increased FIFA’s influence across great swathes of the developing world, and taken football (soccer) to the masses in many countries. FIFA have also seen a hefty increase in their bank balance. In fact it was after Russia won the right to stage the 2018 World Cup Finals, and Qatar the 2022 competition, again amid great controversy, that I began to wonder if his over-riding aim was to try to get the World Cup Finals played in as many different countries as possible – by any means possible.
Making football THE global sport, has always been high on his agenda. It may well be this ambition which has fuelled so much mistrust, and seen a rise in allegations of back-hander’s and corruption.
Every country has its own corruption problems. Companies paying for lucrative arms contracts, football managers accepting percentages of players transfer fees, and so on and so forth. When these things surface, they are jumped on by the authorities, serious charges and jail time are often the result.
In most countries that is. Unfortunately, pursuing his ambition, Blatter has spent much of his time wooing continents like Africa, with its accepted high levels of corruption from Presidents down. The same can be said for Asia and South America. In all these areas, Sepp Blatter and FIFA, have been making big inroads selling the benefits of the beautiful game. Perhaps, without even realising it, including the ease with which a little tax free capitol can be made.
Should Blatter have resigned?
Yes of course he should. The CEO of any company, never mind a multi-national one, would have gone within the first day, yet Blatter didn’t, and hasn’t. He’s here for another four years…maybe. And who’s kept him here? The Confederation of African Football, The Asia Football Confederation, and the South American Football Federations. There’s big money in football, and they don’t want to risk losing it, black or white, with a new kid on the block.
It’s as if he feels to resign is tantamount to admitting guilt, and he hasn’t been arrested. The FBI no doubt feel they have put together a good case against those arrested. Yet Blatter wasn’t included, perhaps, and it is just a perhaps, they feel they need a watertight case, before moving against the biggest fish in the pond. One thing’s for certain, there’s a lot more to come.
Is Blatter himself guilty of corruption?
That’s a difficult one, if he is, then he firmly believes he’s untouchable, and he’s very clever. His whole demeanour, at least in public, says little mister innocent. It’s almost as if he doesn’t realise, or understand, the gravity of charges laid against FIFA, and why he, as president, should be held responsible.
Does he accept there’s a corruption problem?
It would be hard to believe he doesn’t. The charges laid go back some 20 years, even before Blatter’s time. Add all the corruption scandals which have dogged his multiple presidencies, and the answer has to be yes he knows, and he knows who and when, but psychologically, either he can’t accept it, or in his mind, it is an acceptable part of a multi-billion dollar, multi-national business, and shouldn’t be an issue for the wider world.
Perhaps, with his love of his FIFA family, he’s like an ineffectual father. Meeting with the wrongdoer, extracting a private apology, and accepting ‘it won’t happen again’…until the next time. Job done, problem solved, now all is good with the family again.
The sad thing about it all, should this scenario be anywhere near the truth – is that while he has become an almost hate figure in the eyes of many in the football community – he has also become a figure of derision for many of his beloved football family, as they put another cheque in their offshore account.
By http://football.wikia.com/wiki/File:Qatar_2022_bid_logo.png [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jarrett Campbell from Cary, North Carolina, USA (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Tavener [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Christopher Johnson (Flickr: IMG_0045) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A British expat who has lived on this Island of Tenerife for over twelve years.A full time freelance writer, most of my time is spent article writing. I also write on D2C, Writedge, and wherever takes my fancy. For fun I try to increase my portfolio of short stories, with a view to eventually getting them published.