Four more years. That was the news from Zurich on Wednesday as Sepp Blatter was handed another, and almost certainly, final term as the President of FIFA.
It was the climax – or more accurately the anti-climax – to an extraordinary series of events that left two FIFA Executive Committee members suspended pending further investigation of alleged improprieties, another member of the Executive Committee fired (or maybe not) by CONCACAF and the world governing body for football left with all the gravitas of a Monty Python’s movie.
In the days leading to the election FIFA faced an onslaught of attacks from all and sundry – everyone from Prince William to the lowliest tweeter struggling to spell “corrupt” correctly.
Anyone following (and perhaps taken in by) the English language coverage on the internet might be shocked that FIFA and their President could take such a beating but still find a way to stagger through an election without any demonstrable commitment to change.
After all what we had here was the Perfect Storm heading for island FIFA.
Just coming off a highly charged and controversial World Cup Finals bidding process, what at one point was looking like a contested Presidential election, explosive allegations regarding one of the candidates just days before the election and all played out with the backdrop of a FIFA Congress.
Never before has a FIFA Congress garnered so much attention and never as it endured such intense media coverage. And FIFA still survived to fight on. Or more to the point most of the powerbrokers within world soccer survived to fight on.
When you step back from the countless articles, podcasts, blog posts and tweets you have to ask did it really make a difference? Let’s face it hurtling words from a keyboard into cyberspace is hardly a re-enactment of the Paris Uprising of 1968.
Did it hit home or did the digital volleys just smack the choir rather than their intended FIFA targets?
The media campaign will wither with sporadic coverage as other allegations or findings emerge. The mainstream media will be distracted by transfer deals, managers being fired and marital indiscretions of star players – and FIFA knows it.
What will be left is an intrepid group of investigative reporters who have spent many years trying to focus the cold light of day on FIFA malfeasance.
(Was there anything more ironic than the outlets that in all seriousness ran stories about Adidas expressing concern about the allegations of FIFA corruption? Adidas, the company founded by Horst Dassler, the man who was at the epicentre of engineering the 1974 FIFA Presidential win of Joao Havelange. Engineering being a nice way of saying Dassler’s money bought support for Havelange. Dassler’s activities were not restricted to soccer either but extended to making sure that his man Juan Antonio Samaranch became IOC President as well. And it doesn’t even leave time for discussion about another company he founded called ISL.)
Tomorrow – Russell offers clues to how things might change; Friday – Bobby with where change may come from.
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