Soccer fans rejoice!
Just a few days after getting re-elected as FIFA president, Sepp Blatter announced that he will resign and leave FIFA. This gives FIFA a golden opportunity to rebuild and get rid of the corruption within the organization.
The winds started blowing around Blatter right after the indictments were handed down and several FIFA members were charged with financial crimes. The buzz around FIFA as an extremely corrupt organization has been around for decades and now the head of the snake is gone.
Blatter’s statement was published on FIFA’s website on Tuesday after the press conference and it’s still clear that he still thinks he did the right thing running for re-election.
“I have been reflecting deeply about my presidency and about the forty years in which my life has been inextricably bound to FIFA and the great sport of football. I cherish FIFA more than anything and I want to do only what is best for FIFA and for football. I felt compelled to stand for re-election, as I believed that this was the best thing for the organisation. That election is over but FIFA’s challenges are not. FIFA needs a profound overhaul.”
What would have been best for soccer was if he was never re-elected in the first place. That he still was able to win the election despite the allegations shows us FIFA’s problems run deep and that several member nations of FIFA need to take a long look at themselves and see if they also need a change at the top. How anyone could have voted for Blatter after the corruption scandal broke is mind boggling.
According to ABC News, Blatter is under investigation by the FBI, so his exit doesn’t come as a shock. But the timing of it is questionable. I don’t know if it was purely his big ego that made him not step down before the election or if he really thought he would be able to keep himself from becoming part of the investigations.
But with the spotlight on him, it will now be a race for some of the other accused members of FIFA to be the first one to turn on Blatter and help authorities build a case against the 79-year-old Swiss native. No matter how naive Blatter is or how powerful he thinks he is, he won’t be able to wiggle his way out from this mess.
He has tarnished the game of soccer for such a long time, culminating in the decisions to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. If FIFA can get a new leader in place fairly quickly, it should consider giving the 2018 World Cup to a different nation that has a better human rights record and less social instability than Russia. Germany, England and the United States have the arenas and the infrastructure needed to put on the event on short notice.
As far as the 2022 World Cup, there should be a new election process and ban Qatar from bidding again. If FIFA wants to expand the game and make it grow and all the mumbo jumbo language that Blatter used in defending the choice of Qatar, then give it to Australia.
One thing is clear, after 17 years with Blatter at the helm, FIFA needs to appoint the right man for the job and start making some changes to their own rulebook in order to minimize the chances of corruption. There are a few possible candidates, and I wouldn’t mind seeing a former player like Luis Figo take over. He’s always come across as a very smart and humble guy and I believe that he could do a lot of good for the sport of soccer.
FIFA needs to get back to its roots and become all about the growth and well being of soccer. It’s clear that, as the years have gone by, everything has become about the money, and that’s largely due to Blatter’s leadership.
Blatter might be gone, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before FIFA gets any form of trust and credibility back from the fans. Whoever takes over will have a long and daunting undertaking ahead on him/her.
But, today is a day of joy, because the first step has been taken. Things can only get better from here on out.
Auf wiedersehen Herr Blatter. You won’t be missed.