FIFA: Why did Blatter leave the field?
Hardnews Bureau Delhi
Outgoing FIFA president, Joseph Sepp Blatter, is set to be investigated by Swiss prosecutors on charges that FIFA officials accepted bribes in awarding the hosting of World Cup to Russia and Qatar. The corruption case, which has engulfed the International Federation of Association Football has taken a new twist since Blatter’s resignation from the President post four days after being elected for the fifth time. He is being investigated by US FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation)and US prosecutor.
Investigation in the FIFA corruption case started a week ago and till now fourteen people have been arrested by the FBI into wire fraud, marketing and money laundering. On May 27, seven serving members of the FIFA were arrested from the hotel in Zurich. They were planning to attend the 65th FIFA Congress elections.
Blatter resigned on June 2 after getting cornered by the ongoing controversy. Though he resigned from the post but he will be serving as the president until the fresh elections are held and new president is elected. Next elections are expected to be held in December this year. Blatter is associated with FIFA since 1981 when he first became the General Secretary. He was elected as the president in 1998 and since then he has never been dethroned.
Blatter has not been accused of wrongdoing, and insisted this week that he had no idea about the alleged bribe-taking at the heart of FIFA. However, two British banks are believed to have launched internal investigations into whether officials used them to funnel corrupt payments, after they were named in the FBI report. The Swiss probe, known as 'Operation Darwin', is questioning all members of the executive council who were involved in the 2010 vote which gave the 2018 cup to Russia and the 2022 version to Qatar.
Controversies are not new to Blatter, as the outgoing FIFA president has made many controversial statements during his reign.
- His reign has overseen a numerous allegations of corruption in the bidding processes for the awarding of FIFA tournaments. Blatter was criticised for not postponing his 2011 elections, which he won, despite the fact that all other candidates had been either suspended or withdrew.
- Controversy came to him when Russia was awarded the 2018 event, with England receiving just two of their "promised" votes. Blatter dismissed this controversy. Another similar controversy popped up by the awarding of the 2022 games to Qatar was also controversial.
- On April 29, 2013, FIFA's Ethics Committee concluded its investigation into allegations of illegal payments to FIFA officials from the organisation's former marketing partner International Sports and Leisure (ISL), which went bankrupt in 2001, and published its report. Blatter was cleared of any misconduct.
- He's also known for making absurd statements that have included female players wearing tighter shorts and on-field racism being settled with a handshake.
- Blatter invited criticism from retired basketball player John Amaechi and gay right groups when he cracked a joke about gays – “I would say they (gay fans) should refrain from sexual activities.”
- Back in October 2013, when he was asked to compare the current game’s best between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, he went to mock Ronaldo with strange gestures. "One has more expenses for the hairdresser than the other but that doesn't matter,” Messi is a good boy that every father and every mother would like to take home.” he had said at the time, as recalled by Marca, Spanish Tabloid.
The reaction to Blatter’s resignation was taken as a progressive step by the football world. Majority of the experts, team owners, directors, former players and coaches welcomed the move.
Here are the some of the reactions:
"We welcome today's announcement and believe it is good news for world football and FIFA. Change at the very top of FIFA is the necessary first step in delivering real reform of the organisation. Who got him? Who shot him? What happened between then (Friday) and now?. We haven't had a squeaky clean president for many, many years." – Greg Dyke, English Football Association chairman.
"It was a difficult decision, a brave decision, and the right decision." - UEFA President Michel Platini.
“This is the best news in a long time. The resignation of Joseph Blatter from the presidency of FIFA represents the start of a new era for world soccer. All corrupt federation leaders around the world will feel their fall coming like a tsunami. I hope that this great wave is enough to wash out all the corruption led by the world’s highest soccer authority.”- Romario, 1994 World Cup winner and current Brazilian senator.
"This is a good day for world football. Sepp Blatter has done FIFA a great service by resigning. All who seriously advocate a reform of FIFA, must now contribute constructive proposals for the unity of football. Credibility and transparency have to come first.” - Renhard Rauball, President of Germany's Bundesliga.