He’s finally gone, and the football world has breathed a collective sigh of relief. However, the ban imposed onJoseph S. Blatter is nowhere near the end of the story, according to DW sports editor Joscha Weber.
The ban imposed on former FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter is nowhere near the end of the story, according to DW sports editor Joscha Weber.
There he was again, the old Joseph S. Blatter, combative, full of energy, alert – and completely sure of himself. When he appeared before the press at FIFA’s former headquarters, many expected to see a beaten-down president of the world governing body. His uncertain gait and a band-aid that he has been wearing under his right eye for the past few days suggested that Blatter’s days are numbered, if he hasn’t already been knocked out. But this is a mistake. Unfortunately. Joseph S. Blatter, FIFA’s eternal mover and shaker, still hasn’t been finished off. True, the in-house Ethics Committee has banned him for eight years for abuse of power and breaching FIFA’s ethics rules – the same number of years that Platini received. However, Blatter has not accepted the ruling, and plans take every possible legal avenue to try to get it overturned. “Eight years, for what?” he asked, before announcing that he would fight “for FIFA, for me.” The two have always been one in the same for Blatter – FIFA and him. And this is the whole problem: Blatter is still setting the agenda and preventing a much-needed new beginning in international football.
Blatter as a victim? Ridiculous.
In his emotional performance in which he tossed around strong terms such as “disgrace,” “lies,” or “injustice,” Blatter portrayed himself as a victim of the Ethics Commission, demanding humanity and respect – for himself of course, who else? The poor man appears to have completely lost touch with reality, because he still can’t explain a 1.8-million-euro ($2 million) payment in 2011 that the investigators see as a bribe for his 2011 re-election. His droll to ridiculous monologue in front of the world’s press would be funny if the situation wasn’t so serious. Football is at a crossroads. The leadership of the world’s favorite sport has fallen into disrepute – and for good reason. Investigations in the United States and Switzerland have shed light on a completely corrupt system that has to be put to an end. Now.
“I can’t say that it is a good day for FIFA,” Blatter said, likely making more than a few people want to reply: “Yes it is!” But is it really? What is true is that Blatter’s ban opens up an opportunity to finally clean up FIFA. The system of dubious and illegal dealings – which Blatter tolerated, and in the eyes of the Ethics Committee actively took part in – must be brought to an end. Contingents of World Cup tickets in exchange for votes, TV rights for bribes, executive positions for influence – FIFA has been operating like a black market. Everything has been for sale for a price – even World Cups tournaments. Blatter cultivated and profited from this culture for years. The fact that the Ethics Committee, the very instrument that he created (likely in a PR-move), which previously shut down his opponents (Mohamed bin Hammam, Jack Warner), has now, at least temporarily, stopped him, is quite ironic.
Blatter’s system lives on (at least for now)
So where do we go from here? It all starts with what could be a long legal battle. Because what is also true, is that Blatter still isn’t beaten. This is also true of the system that he cultivated. Almost every post at FIFA is occupied by Blatter loyalists, and many functionaries themselves have been damaged. Completely aside from the court decisions that are surely to follow, the world governing body finds itself confronted with the mammoth task of implementing root-and-branch reforms. It won’t be until this is happened that we will truly know whether this has actually been a good day for football.