June 2, 2015 will be remembered by a lot of soccer and football fans around the world because of one man’s decision to relinquish the power that he so desperately wanted to keep.
Sepp Blatter who has been the most powerful man in soccer for the past 17 years announced his resignation from the presidency of FIFA at a press conference in Zurich in front of a mostly empty room.
You can watch the full speech here.
This resignation came as a shock to most people who have been following the FIFA scandal because of the confidant, and some would call arrogant attitude Blatter had just four short days ago. He had just been re-elected president of FIFA and had this to say to the crowd of people gathered there: “I was a little nervous today. Now I am the president of everybody. President of everybody. President of the whole FIFA.” He also claimed that the 14 arrests that were by English and American officials were because they were resentful of not getting the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
The question is why? Why after such a confidant speech four days ago is Blatter resigning now? Well, as much as Blatter tried to remove himself from the whole scandal, little bits and pieces had started coming together and were building a case against him. The biggest piece that some are saying is the reason Blatter needed to resign was because of the link between Jérôme Valcke, FIFA’s top lieutenant and Blatter’s right hand man, and the $10 million dollars presumed to have influenced South Africa’s 2010 World Cup bid. With Blatter’s resignation, it begs the question of, what else has Blatter done? The answer to that question right now is only known by a select group of individuals who have been building a case against Blatter. Most expect that new and more insightful information will come out about what Blatter knew and didn’t over the next few weeks.
What happens next?
In the video above you see a more quiet and more somber Blatter hoping he can say what he has to, then get out as soon as possible. Domenico Scala, the independent chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, talked about the immediate steps following this announcement. First he wanted to clarify that until a replacement is found Blatter is still the president of FIFA, but will be focusing on reform of the organization. Scala also talked about holding a special meeting with all of FIFA’s member nations in a new election that he said will take place between December 2015 and March 2016 to decide who will be the new president. Both Blatter and Scala expressed renewed interest in reforming and helping to rebuild the tarnished legacy that FIFA is now dealing with. Including new ways to integrate players and showing more clarity when it comes to money and elections of officials.
Not much will change in the next few months. The Woman’s World Cup will still be held from June 6th to July 5th (on artificial turf thanks to Blatter). Also the summer continent tournaments will still go on as scheduled. More information will come out as more investigations are rendered. Other than that not much will change until the new election comes around. Right now there are some favorites to land the new seat as president and will have the task of rebuilding and regaining the trust of fans around the world. These candidates include Michel Platini, who right now is the favorite to replace Blatter. He currently oversees UEFA and was once a Blatter protegee, he had called for Blatter’s resignation before Friday’s vote. Next is the man who dropped out of Friday’s elections Ali bin Al-Hussein, he is also in the running and is expected to enter his name on the ballet. Next are names of some long-shots Luis Figo, Ted Howard of the United States and Senes Erzik.
The big question that everybody wants to know is what is going to happen for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Unless there is substantial evidence that any FIFA officials have been linked to the bids of either the World Cup being held in Russia in 2018 or Qatar in 2022 then it seems that these sites are still going to host their respective tournaments. As a Russian official and citizen I would feel pretty confidant that their bid will be in tact no matter what the outcome of the investigation is or who is elected president.
However, if I were Qatar I would be a little more worried. They already had to move the World Cup to December because of scorching hot temperatures that reach the high 120s during the summer. This made every single coach mad that competes in the European leagues because that is during the middle of their season which will now have to be restructured for that year only. Also the reports that over 1200 migrant workers have died building these stadiums in the middle of a desert with poor sanitation and living space. All of the factors add up to maybe the new FIFA looking at this situation and saying, hmm maybe this is a really bad idea to have the World Cup there.
In all, the resignation of Blatter is a huge step for FIFA and soccer fans around the world who desperately want to change the perception of FIFA. Only smart decisions and tactical planning will result in the trust of fans who have witnessed 40 years of intolerance by a corrupt FIFA body of government. Hopefully soccer fans around the world will get an organization that cares and wants the world’s most popular sport to be seen as a model of clean, well planned events that can still ignite the passion that lies in soccer fans around the world.