Sensational news has come out this afternoon with Sepp Blatter resigning his position as president of FIFA days after being re-elected.
This stunning turn of events takes place with football’s governing body in the midst of a corruption storm, with many top-ranking officials being indicted to the US as we reported last week.
It appears, at this stage, that Blatter has decided to resign of his own free will. But many are predicting this resignation is heavily linked to the findings of the FBI and US Department of Justice into serious wrongdoing at FIFA.
An emergency news conference was called by FIFA in Switzerland, supposedly following the release of details explaining that a $10m payment made by FIFA to an account which was controlled by former vice-president Jack Warner, who was indicted to the US earlier last week.
This payment followed a letter from the South Africa FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke. This was thought to have been a secretive method to curry favour for votes in the 2010 World Cup bidding process. South Africa ofcourse went on to host the tournament.
The letter from Molefi Oliphant, president of the South African Football Association, reportedly advised Valcke to withhold payments from World Cup funds and instead to pay the balance to Warner to support football in the Caribbean, Warner’s constituency.
It asks for $10m to be “administered and implemented” by the former CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president Warner.
FIFA have denied the authorisation of these funds were passed by Valcke, but instead by recently deceased Julio Grondona, former chair of FIFA’s Finance Committee.
Blatter did not mention the above accusations in his resignation speech, he only re-iterated that he has decided to stand down due to the fact that his… “mandate does not seem to be supported.” which is interesting, considering he won the election by a vast majority.
He added “”I will organise extraordinary congress for a replacement for me as president. I will not stand, I am now free from the constraints of an election.
“I will be in a position to focus on profound reforms. For many years we have called for reforms but these are not sufficient.”
Questions will be asked as to why Blatter ran for election in the first place, but he had an answer…
“I was convinced it was the best option”.
There didn’t seem to be any doubt that Blatter wanted to stay, but this decision has been made, supposedly for the good of Football.
“I have been reflecting deeply about my presidency and about the forty years in which my life has been inextricably bound to FIFA and the great sport of football. I cherish FIFA more than anything and I want to do only what is best for FIFA and for football.”
“I felt compelled to stand for re-election, as I believed that this was the best thing for the organisation. That election is over but FIFA’s challenges are not. FIFA needs a profound overhaul. While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football – the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at FIFA.”
FIFA’s chairman of audit and compliance then stated that there is unlikely to be a fresh election until much later this year.
“While the timing will ultimately be up to the executive committee, the timing of election is likely to be between December and March.”
This are very strange circumstances indeed, and it is extremely unlikely that this will be the last we hear of FIFA corruption and potentially Blatter’s involvement.
FA Chairman Greg Dyke predicted this week that Blatter “wouldn’t last 2 years”. Many media moghuls would have rolled their eyes at this comment. But it turned out he was spot on.
Other theories into this resignation will include the fact that UEFA were looking to hold meetings this week, with president Michel Platini suggesting many of the major countries that make up UEFA would come together and pull out of the next World Cup in Qatar should Blatter remain in charge.
Although the tournament would still have most likely gone ahead, Many wouldn’t expect major worldwide sponsors to invest in tournaments that wouldn’t include the like of England, Italy, The Netherlands and even current World Champions Germany.
Whatever his reasoning, public or private, Blatter has bought to an end his controversial reign as president, stretching back to 1998.
Writer’s View: What an absolute farce our governing body is. There is absolutely no way that Sepp Blatter would have resigned if there wasn’t a threat to himself in this corruption investigation. He’s getting out while his hands are clean and avoiding a very messy indictment for FIFA’s crimes whilst he remained in office.
For me, something must have come to a head after the eventual release of the findings of the Garcia Report. Blatter would have been advised that he’s in there, and that he should leave to preserve his so called credibility.
Hopefully this should mean transparency at the establishment that runs our game. Countries and constituencies were prepared for drastic action to oust Blatter from his post, including withdrawal from major tournaments. I don’t want to see a World Cup without England in it, and maybe now that dream can be a reality again.
This is the first step to redemption for the people’s game!