Bigger than Blatter

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ROMY P. MARIÑAS

ROMY P. MARIÑAS

There oughta be a law against senior citizens in FIFA (no offense to people my age, honest).

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Take its Swiss president Sepp Blatter, for example.

He is 79, has been chief of football’s world governing body since 1999, and last week won another four-year term in a victory that was overshadowed by allegations of corruption against at least 7 top FIFA officials who were promptly arrested for alleged wrongdoing.

The guy should have retired many, many years ago, unless of course FIFA wants him forever at the top of the organization.

What’s in it for him at the federation? Power? Pelf? Legacy? Maybe all three, maybe none.

At his age he should be singing Edelweiss at the top of his voice in the Swiss Alps or watching Roger Federer play.

But no, he seems to like much more being a scary, feared figure, on one hand, and, on the other, a godfather of sorts to lesser football gods in Asia and Africa until, let’s see, he turns 100.

Votes from the two continents, some of whose football clubs are perceived as players in game-fixing, sealed the deal for Blatter, with Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein withdrawing from the race after the first round of balloting.

At least, the Middle East royal sent Blatter the message that FIFA has had enough of his allegedly autocratic rule that was arguably stained ethically a few years ago when the 2018 World Cup was awarded to Russia and the 2022 edition to Qatar amid charges of irregularities.

Qatar, if you didn’t know, is desert country that will require qualifiers to slug it out for 90 minutes (more, because of added time) in a dangerous environment, humid, hot and other conditions that could be career- if not life-threatening to the players.

Besides, fan base there is insignificant and stadiums to be built for the World Cup three years from now will be filled up by foreigners.

Every football aficionado knows that without the noisy, rowdy, boisterous, highly partisan fans, the Bundesliga, the Premier League and the J-League, to name a few, are nothing.

We prefer seeing Blatter step down, not only because he already is set for life but also that he should give way to younger arbiters of world football.

Expect this Swiss guy, though, to crow about Cuba welcoming Pele and Cosmos to Havana for a football match with a local side, reportedly the first in 16 years between Fidel’s boys and the Americans, or any other foreign opponents for that matter.

Blatter should hold his horses, football is bigger than him and his hangers-on in FIFA, despite Pele extolling the Swiss as an “expert” chief after his reelection to head FIFA until 2020.

Pele and company are in Cuba for futbol, and the Swiss taskmaster is incidental to the coming over of the legendary Brazilian and Cosmos.

The “beautiful game,” as football has been described, was made ugly by Blatter many times over but it will survive him for perhaps another century.

It has been made more beautiful by Cuba opting for a Major League Soccer team, instead of one from Major League Baseball.

Baseball is religion in Cuba, whereas its football team is not even a regional contender, as it is supposedly No.1 in the United States, not basketball, contrary to popular belief.

Futbol just got a boost in the Caribbean, thanks but no thanks to Blatter.

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