FIFA: Changing of the guard


By Friday this week, world football will have voted into the highest FIFA post the replacement of the corruption-tainted Sepp Blatter.

Blatter, 79, has been with the federation for more than half of his life (41 years), although he has been with FIFA as president only since 1998.

Still, heading the federation for nearly18 years is a tribute either to his political savvy as a leader or his manipulative steering of FIFA in all those years allegedly for personal gain, throwing perhaps a little of the reportedly criminal perks to his partners within.

A Swiss criminal case was opened in September last year against Blatter for mismanagement of FIFA money.

It led to the federation’s ethics com¬mittee to ban him and French football great Michel Platini—Blatter’s former protégé—for eight years.

Interestingly, one of the five candidates seeking to succeed Blatter is South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale, a prisoner at Robben Island when Nelson Mandela was also serving time there.

Sexwale being in the mix lends a “moral” dimension to the race for FIFA’s top job but it is not a guarantee to snare the votes of leaders of the world football body’s 209 member-federations.

Blatter being out of FIFA does not mean that the voting will be reduced to a PTA meeting, potluck, with balloons and cookies.

No sir, as with other equally high-spending international sports federations, expect wine—and maybe money—to flow (not in anyone’s full view, of course) in Zurich to anoint the next futbol boss.

Even if Blatter’s rule was not graft-ridden, he should have been kicked out a long time ago, maybe after his second term.

But, apparently, FIFA does not prohibit reelection and the disgraced FIFA chief could have live to 200 and still be eligible for an nth shot at the throne.

No wonder Blatter did not enter politics, outside of FIFA, that is.

He had, well, a bailiwick in the federation, so what’s the point of venturing into what he has already mastered inside?

This coming Saturday is the first day of the start, hopefully, of a new dawn for FIFA, which should thank its lucky stars that, despite the shenanigans of the Blatter years, football is reputedly still the biggest draw on the planet.

The new FIFA president, however, should not push his luck.

May the best, no, the “cleanest,” gentleman win.


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