Amid calls for his resignation, Sepp Blatter today came out with one of his most bizarre statements yet. The FIFA president whimsically suggested that soccer could be played on other planets in the future, possibly resulting in an inter-galactic tournament akin to the World Cup.
In a speech at the FIFA Congress, Blatter said “We shall wonder if one day our game is played on another planet? Why not? Then we will have not only a World Cup we will have inter-planetary competitions. Why not?”
While this was almost certainly an attempt at humor, his many detractors find nothing funny about the Swiss’ decision to stand for another four-year term, despite an earlier promise not to do so.
This is seen as even more incredulous, since accusations surfaced last week of pandemic corruption within FIFA, centering on the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. This has led to football associations across the world, including the FA, to call for Blatter’s resignation.
Both FA chairman Greg Dyke and the Royal Dutch Football Federation’s president, Michael van Praag have spoken out against the Swiss’ decision to run for a fifth term.
Van Praag in particular has been scathing in his condemnation of the 78-year-old, accusing him of being largely responsible for FIFA’s poor public image.
Former UEFA president, Lennart Johansson said yesterday “I think it’s time he (Blatter) went.”
It has long been established that there needs to be a root and branch review of how FIFA is run, and in all likelihood Blatter will have to be removed from power.
It will take a courageous stand from governing bodies from around the world, especially European football associations. Michel Platini has been touted to run against Blatter for the FIFA presidency, but there are indications that he is uneasy about such a proposal.
As we’ve seen with the Donald Sterling/NBA debacle, it can be difficult sometimes to prise control from a powerful old man with a less-than-firm grip on reality. Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to suggest that Blatter is suffering from the same Alzheimer-like symptoms as Sterling, but one can’t help but draw parallels between the two cases.
At any rate, it’s becoming clear that world football’s governing body is a long way off regaining its credibility. Indeed, it could be a while before we, as football fans, get what we want: a new FIFA president. But with more outlandish remarks like the ones made today, hopefully Blatter will be making his exit soon.
Meanwhile, in today’s FIFA Congress, FIFA have voted against age limits for future and serving presidents.