Sepp Blatter is gone. He announced his resignation yesterday from his position as FIFA president. But the question is now what does this mean? Will the corruption end? What will be the next steps? Sepp Blatter has been in charge of FIFA for 17 years and worked for FIFA for a total of 40 years.
His reign started when his mentor Joao Havelange retired and Blatter won the election in June of 1998, beating then UEFA president Lennart Johansson. The reign of corruption started then with bribery claims being made all around the world. Nothing came of these reports.
Then in 2002, a challenge came from within as General Secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen filed a report about the financial mismanagement that was taking place in FIFA, and how there were conflicts of interest and abuse of power. Zen-Ruffinen went to the Swiss authorities with this information, but Blatter wanted to keep it in-house. Blatter then ended the investigation stating, “the executive committee will deal with our Mr. Clean”. Zen-Ruffinen ended up leaving FIFA following the re-election of Blatter. Later in 2002, Blatter won re-election despite losing many of his top lieutenants and more bribery accusations. This time he defeated Issa Hayatou from Africa.
In 2004, FIFA released their first ever Code of Ethics. Sepp Blatter then made some comments about women’s soccer that showed his true arrogance. He called for Women’s Soccer to wear “tighter shorts”.
In 2006, Jack Warner was accused of fraud involving the resale of tickets to the World Cup in Germany. Jack Warner was the FIFA Vice President at the time and the president of Trinidad and Tobago. FIFA cleared Warner of any wrong doing and expressed some disapproval at his actions.
In 2007, Blatter was re-elected as FIFA president. He ran unopposed and won easily, as he had fortified his block of support in the smaller countries. The way the elections work is that every country in FIFA gets one vote. This means that Germany, Spain, and England have the same power as Guyana, Djibouti, and Sudan.
In 2010, Mohammed bin Hammam stated that he would be running against Blatter in the 2011 FIFA presidential election. Mohammed bin Hammam was the president of the Asian Football Confederation from Qatar. However, in August of 2010, he backed out of the race and then backed Sepp Blatter to remain in office.
Then it all really started to get bad for Blatter on December 2, 2010. This was the day in which he awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively. Before the vote, two members of the executive committee, Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Reynald Temmarii of Tahiti, were suspended for being caught on tape trying to sell their votes. This investigation, which was conducted by The Sunday Times, also later revealed that four other members of the Executive Committee tried to solicit bribes. Apparently one of them asked for $2.5 million and another wanted to be a knight.
In 2010, Blatter makes some interesting comments about homosexuals, since it is illegal in Qatar. Blatter joked that they should just refrain from sexual activity. He also made some interesting comments about racism and football saying that players should just shake hands and move on.
In June of 2011, Bin Hammam was found guilty of bribery and banned for life from all football activities. This stemmed from a meeting with Jack Warner and led to him resigning from his posts. The two were involved in bribing members of CONCACAF.
When FIFA investigated the voting procedure in 2012, they brought in former United States attorney Michael Garcia. Garcia reportedly submitted a 430 page report on the corruption on September of 2014. In November, Hans-Joachim Eckert, chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s independent ethics committee, published a 42 page summary of his report that confirmed the bids of Russia and Qatar. Garcia calls the summary incomplete and erroneous. The findings of this investigation found that there were some violations of the code of ethics, but they did not impact the integrity of the vote. After his failed appeal, Michael Garcia promptly quit in protest.
Then the first cracks in the wall really became evident as 14 soccer officials were arrested on corruption charges from the United States on May 27th. Swiss authorities raid a hotel in Zurich that lead to the arrest of 7 executives. 7 more were arrested in Florida at the CONCACAF headquarters.
This happened just days before Blatter would get re-elected for his fifth term, beating Prince Ali bin al-Hussein. Blatter almost won by two-thirds majority, receiving 133 votes.
Then yesterday, it was revealed that 10 million dollars was paid to Jack Warner for the bribes he paid during the voting for the 2010 World Cup. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and lead to Blatter resigning. Just days after he said that he was “the president of everybody,” he is now no longer the president. While Sepp will remain as president until a new one is found, these are positive steps towards change in FIFA.
Let me finish by saying that this is by no means the end of the corruption that exists in FIFA. Many more changes need to be made. I think changes need to be made to the executive committee and how the votes are counted. Should Africa have the most power? They currently have the most votes in FIFA, and I think this will just lead to more corruption. This will be a pivotal time in FIFA and the next president has a lot of work to do.
A quick side note, if you want a good laugh, there is a video of Jack Warner ranting about the chargers…check it out @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaQHkXvXaPQ