Why It’s Imperative That Sepp Blatter Is Challenged At FIFA Presidency Election

sepp-blatter

The 1st of June 2011 saw Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter elected to his fourth term as FIFA President.  He (in)famously was the only candidate listed as his challenger Mohammed bin Hammam had to withdraw from the election due to charges of corruption.

Blatter garnered 186 of the 203 votes and was duly ‘reelected’ as FIFA president and stated that he would not run for a fifth term. A few years later Blatter believes that his ‘mission’ hasn’t finished yet and is standing again.

It is unhealthy for the game of football to have Blatter rule for so long. It is extremely unhealthy that he was effectively handed the presidency in the last ‘election’ on a silver platter.

It is imperative to the health of FIFA and football in general that Blatter doesn’t run unopposed.

This is especially needed as Blatter confirmed that Michael Garcia’s report into alleged corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process would remain private. As of now only the findings of Hans Joachim-Eckbert who heads the adjudicatory wing of FIFA’s ethics committee will be made public. Many within FIFA and Garcia himself have urged that the report be openly available for the sake of transparency.

The decision not to release the report makes a mockery of Blatter’s claim last September that FIFA has an “exemplary organization in ethics”. 

On a different note don’t be surprised if Garcia’s report is leaked given the interest in the document.

Former French diplomat, Jérôme Champagne, who was part of Blatter’s election campaign in 1998 and 2002, has already declared his candidacy and Chilean Football Federation President Harold Mayne-Nicholls is reportedly considering a bid as well.

Champagne’s candidature, which has been endorsed by Pelé, must be welcomed and one hopes that Mayne-Nicholls confirms his bid as well. Even if Blatter, as it appears likely, emerges victorious the organization needs an election with a number of candidates if only to hold the incumbent accountable.

Champagne has already called on Blatter to engage in a public discussion claiming that:

“A debate behind closed doors would be fatal for the image of FIFA. We need transparency. The arguments have to be exchanged in front of representatives from all national associations, who vote for us”. 

Unsurprisingly, Blatter isn’t a fan stating that public debates are not appropriate for FIFA.

Mayne-Nicholls for his part felt that football’s governing body must go in a new direction. Speaking to keirradnedge.comhe said:

I wrote a column a few months ago for El Pais in Spain in which I point out the need for fresh air. What has happened lately has not served the image of FIFA or, indirectly, football”.

Nicholls added:

“There is a complete disconnect between what the fans think is needed and the administration of the game. That leads me to believe that you can both accomplish change while maintaining what works well. I do not think it is wise, in the long term, to maintain both the same individuals and structures.” 

Champagne admitted earlier in the year that if Blatter ran the incumbent would probably be reelected. Rumours circulated that Champagne, who himself was ousted from FIFA in 2010, was being manipulated by Blatter to smoke out any potential candidates.

Champagne refuted these allegations:

“I am running because I believe in what I am saying. I am running to win. I am running to implement my ideas”.

The Frenchman insists that Blatter isn’t corrupt but because of the structure of FIFA the only way to get things done is through compromise. Champagne explained:

“The longer you are there the more you make. Sometimes you have to sup with the devil with a long spoon”.

The only way to combat this, as Champagne recognizes, is to reform and restructure FIFA.

In an ideal world Blatter would step down. Michael Hershman, a former member of FIFA’s independence governance committee, told the BBC that:

“For the good of the sport Sepp Blatter should leave and let new blood come in. It needs a change of leadership. Anytime an organization has gone through years and years of scandal and it has a credibility problem, it’s always best to change the leader”.

Champagne recognizes that FIFA has an image deficit whilst Mayne-Nicholls believes it’s crucial that it’s in the best interest of football’s governing body to put forward as many candidates as possible.

New ideas need to be suggested, public debates must be had, transparency is required for an organization as big as FIFA and as both Champagne and Mayne-Nicholls believe the governing body needs to be more democratic.

To secure the FIFA presidency the winning candidate must get 105 votes (out of a total of 209). If Champagne, who has had his disagreements with Michel Platini, secures the UEFA votes and Mayne-Nicholls, assuming he runs, convinces COMNEBOL and CONCACAF nations to back him then Blatter could be put in an uncomfortable position. Given how FIFA has become an increasingly Machiavellian beast under his watch, Blatter shouldn’t be surprised if so-called ‘friends’ turn their back on him.

In reality Blatter, who is a savvy political operator and popular amongst a number of member nations, will probably be re-elected. However, the more hats that are thrown into the ring the more he’ll have to justify his position and why he is the right man to lead FIFA.

‘FIFA’ and ‘credibility’ at the moment don’t sit comfortably in the same sentence. It’s probably too much to ask that the 2015 election will transform FIFA but if Blatter is challenged by Champagne, Mayne-Nicholls and perhaps another it could be the first of many much needed steps to repair the organizations battered reputation.

Football can ill-afford another coronation.

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One Response

  1. Pakapala October 11, 2014

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