Friday, May 29, 2015

FIFA needs it's Blatter removed

   The world, including the soccer skeptical American media watched with (feigned) horror as Sepp Blatter was re-elected as FIFA President for a fifth term. Many new to the wonders of FIFA have openly surmised how a man who runs such a crooked organization can be re-elected without incident and so much as a serious challenge. But Blatter's FIFA operates outside the bounds of logic, and we all must remember that when projecting what the next few years for this organization will be like.

  Blatter's centers of power lie in those nations that feel they have none, especially in the eyes of world football. So that means nations like the US, England, and to be honest most of the Western world will not support Blatter because they don't need his support to push the game forward. But Papua New Guinea? Montserrat? Burundi? These nations owe much of their soccer fortunes to Blatter's FIFA giving them (the heads of the respective associations that is) the cash they need to build pitches, promote the game, etc. It is, for so long why Canada was despite its stature willing to play FIFA's game. 133 nations out of a possible 209 likely fell into this boat.

  73 votes for Prince Ali of Jordan is a sizable dent in Blatter's seemingly impenetrable armor, yet it was merely a flesh wound. Blatter can speak openly about wanting to reform FIFA, but he doesn't need to seeing as it won't help him maintain his grip on the organization he's basically become the symbol of, for better or worse. When he was confirmed as President once again, he talked about Oceania needing a larger voice on FIFA's ExCo, which makes little sense in logic considering 11 football playing nations comprise the Oceanic football federation, and 10 of them are minnows who play football with farmers, doctors and basic day laborers, not professionals. But Blatter's base of power remains in nations similar to those, and until there is a reason for them to not support Blatter, they'll keep him in power.

   Business at FIFA is done how it is done in most of the non-Western world, and no one should be surprised by this. Western standards do not apply to an organization that was taken from being a 12 person outfit based out of a Swiss shack to the most powerful sporting organization in the world, almost overnight. While the DOJ and FBI might scare some in FIFA, and scared some of the federation heads to flip their votes, it didn't scare quite enough of them. Too many footballing nations owe most of their meager possessions and goals to Blatter handing them over, especially the ridiculously wealthy federation heads.

  No matter how many expose's are published about FIFA's corruption from the media, no matter how many whistleblowers come forward and say bribes were pushed in front of their eyes, and how many empty threats are made by Michel Platini, Greg Dyke and others about dropping out of FIFA and/or boycotting future World Cups, these are all going to make Sepp Blatter's position stronger. He is the master of turning a negative into a positive. He is the master of mending diplomatic wounds, and a master of knowing when is the right time to change his tune if it suits him. Remember, he voted for the US as host of 2022 World Cup, not Qatar.

  So what is next for FIFA? For the short term, the status quo. FIFA is running tournaments as I type this in New Zealand and Canada, and has more coming the rest of this calendar year. Unless Swiss authorities or the FBI find more dirt to arrest more executives, the investigation will go on behind the scenes while everyone waits for the next seismic shock. It might take years to find the smoking gun that could force Blatter out or extradited, or that votes for the Qatari World Cup were in fact bought illegally. Maybe UEFA or the USSF will take the dramatic step and try to force FIFA's hand, but until then, it's business as usual. Changes may take place at the heads of CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, at individual federations, and FIFA may ban former members of their organization as necessary PR lip service, but until the next shoe drops, it's business as usual.

  Many of us will watch the U-20 World Cup, the Women's World Cup and the qualifying draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia that take place in May-June-July. FIFA is inescapable around these times. But if these past few days have taught the world anything about FIFA, it is this:

  Dealing with an illogical organization logically gets no one anywhere. And as Sepp Blatter and FIFA proved today, there is no logic at that complex in Zurich.

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