With the New York Times reporting that a money transfer was made by FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke to disgraced former CONCACAF head Jack Warner to the tune of $10 million before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, many are wondering if this landed too close to the feet of the (now former) FIFA President. Could Warner, even in his public defiance, have flipped on him in private? Something has to have happened, either from the authorities in Switzerland or the US telling him to stand down or else (even though he's probably going to be arrested if the paper trail nabs him), or maybe Sepp's personal clock told him it was time to stop the charade. Something tells me the investigation was getting a little too close to his office. Swiss General Authorities have said that Blatter is NOT under investigation at the moment, but could well be in the US.
Adidas was making waves that it could be thinking about removing its sponsorship of FIFA, and aside from the FBI and DOJ, the sponsors have the real power to incite change, and after Sony had dropped out last year. Visa did too. It's not too much of a coincidence to believe that this played some role, but a mass exodus of sponsors would probably have been needed to cause something like this to occur. Did others make gestures to FIFA together? That we may also never know.
Did the talk of the UEFA boycott of the 2018 World Cup do something to force hands? Probably not, even as the British media pressed the story as hard they could, and that was the nuclear option. Strong rhetoric is just that.
Did Sepp Blatter care about his legacy enough to preserve it? Probably, but why did he run on Friday? But Blatter doesn't think the way the rest of us do. He'll certainly take credit if the reforms do get passed. If the posse was getting close...
Whatever the reason for this, hopefully this is the beginning of the change that FIFA needs from the very top, to the local confederations around the world. FIFA needs restructuring like what the IOC went through after the Salt Lake City vote bribing scandal hit the fan. This will take plenty of time to see the true reforms and the true changes, especially considering the next Presidential election may not occur until January. The entire structure of FIFA is rotten, and the new President is only the tip of the iceberg in the reformation process. A possible re-vote on the 2022 World Cup is so far down the line of causality, and that line is as winding as the Swiss Alps (2018 is probably too close and too entangled with already tetchy international issues to be removed from Russia).
This day belongs to football fans around the world who have had to put up with this nonsense and see the game been treated like an ATM machine. Credit needs to be given to the journalists who have fought the fight to report on FIFA's corruption, including those at the Sunday Times and especially Andrew Jennings, who has been beating this drum for at least 10 years and must feel some vindication on this day.
Whoever replaces FIFA has plenty of work to do. Blatter has about 4-6 months left before this extraordinary Congress is held. The next few months will be a fascinating study as to what the World's game is going to become.
But for today, we should all be drinking a drink that "tastes like the puddle underneath the dumpster behind a Long John Silver's". It won't taste like that (for today, at least).
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