Blogs

Taking in the view from Sepp's Ivory Tower

by Sebastian Hassett on Jun 01, 2011

3 comments | | print

Sometime today, Sepp Blatter will be crowned as president of the game you love for the next four years. What an absolute disgrace.

I can't put into words how much damage has been done to FIFA during the reign of the man now known as 'JSB' (all thanks to an email from one of the few respected voices left, Jerome Valcke). Whether he caused it or not is almost immaterial. Fact is, he presided over FIFA's freefall into infamy and did nothing to halt the slide.

His punishment? A gift-wrapped opportunity to lead football for another four years. I'm not making this up. He claims he'll enact all sorts of reforms during his next term, but even if he does - and I sincerely doubt it - will it really be the reform FIFA needs?

Will he announce a full investigation into what happened in both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding? Will he front the English parliamentary inquiry? Will he sever ties with all the companies with whom FIFA is accused of offering kickbacks too? Will there be some form of transparency on the executive committee?

However, with his next term assured, he doesn't have to do any of these things. My, the view from his ivory tower must be something to behold.

I'm not suggesting for one moment that Mohamed Bin Hammam would have been a breath of fresh air through Zurich, either. What he is accused of doing a few weeks ago in the Caribbean really does make you wonder, and not just about this presidential campaign. How many brown paper bags were tossed around throughout 2010 in the lead-up to the World Cup bidding vote?

We'll probably never know.

Bin Hammam may not have been a morally superior candidate, but Blatter is hardly a more palatable option. Football will be poorer should he continue to govern in the manner he has.

His contemptible treatment of the press during Monday's media conference was deplorable, and his subsequent claim that he still considers himself party to the media's ethical standards almost seems a blight on the industry.

But with Bin Hammam gone, you can bet that Blatter will retract his threat to ask for a re-vote on the 2022 World Cup. Really, the motivation for him to tread that path is gone. His rival is cooling his heels under a suspension that curbs his influence for now, and perhaps permanently.

A final word on this matter has to go to the gutless national associations for failing to offer an alternative candidate to Blatter or Bin Hammam. That England abstained in protest - rather than nominating a new voice, such as Chile's Elias Figueroa of the Change FIFA movement - makes them as culpable as anyone else.

All in all, this will be one of the most depressing 24 hours in football. FIFA has been reduced to a pathetic body suffocating under its own weight of corruption, and is set to be led by a man who has already presided over a horrific period in the game's political history.

How sad for anyone who loves the beautiful game.