Sepp Blatter’s done everyone in football a favour this week. He’s announced he’s quitting as President of FIFA. The slight flaw in this favour is the fact that he will so do in 2015. By which time he’ll be a sprightly 79-years-old (older than both of my grandfathers currently are, and they’re both long since retired), and he’ll have been in his job for 17 glorious years.
Mercifully, there is a presidential election on the horizon, one at which Sepp will be challenged by Mohammed Bin Hammam of Qatar (62, and likely to be more of the same given the recent destination of the 2022 World Cup) and Grant Wahl, who of course has not a hope in hell of winning because he’s young and is likely to bring fresh thinking and transparency to the organisation.
Blatter is the epitome of the football administrator: the power-hungry old man with no real love for the game; no idea of the views of its fans, players or those whose opinions actually matter. Even at the level of lower league clubs, we see egomaniacal chairmen clinging onto their empires, despite the protestations of supporters, trying their best to cling onto the blazer and make a fast buck where possible. East Fife even had its own endlessly misguided chairman in J. Derrick Brown – luckily a fantastic protest movement started by the fans eventually forced him out, and brought us a new era of doing slightly better.
Where Sepp and Brown the tragically differ, of course, is that firstly, Sepp cannot be removed by people power, rather only by the national associations, whom he can butter up through campaigning. Secondly, someone just as bad will be no doubt waiting in the wings take over.
One could argue that what football really needs to run it at that level is an intelligent former player, one without any chance of being corrupted, and who can have his own views. Sadly, Michel Platini at UEFA is also Sepp’s man; witness UEFA and FIFA’s joint attempt recently to take World Cup and Euro Championships football off UK terrestrial TV. No doubt Platini has done some things correctly: the redistribution of Champions League places so more actual champions are involved; the rebranding and restructuring of the UEFA Cup/Europa League – again, good work. 24 teams for the European Championships from 2016? Not so much. No doubt Blatter will want Platini to drift quietly into his vacated shoes come 2015. The power brokers in FIFA must be overcome with excitement at the prospect.
The solution….? vote for me. I can’t be any worse.