Sepp Blatter has spent 16 years in charge of football. Has he improved football? No. Has he tarnished the reputation of the game? Yes. Now football is in crisis. Seven FIFA officials have been arrested. All of them served under Blatter. But he still controls football. The beautiful game has turned ugly.
These days late on in May will be remembered as the darkest in football history. But the fact that there is corruption in football does not come as a shock to people. Everyone in football knows that there was a reason that no one challenged Blatter in 2011. Qatar didn’t win the right to host the World Cup in 2022 because there bid was the best. Qatar’s human rights record is truly appalling, the conditions make it almost impossible to play football there, there is no infrastructure in place and the country has no football history, but they have been trusted to host the world’s most watched sporting competition. The real shock is that something has finally been done. The FBI claims that they have evidence that this corruption has been going on since 1991, but it took 24 years for action to be taken.
Sepp Blatter’s claim that he “can’t monitor everyone” is very poor. FIFA released a shortened version of Michael Garcia’s report that cleared both Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing in their bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup respectively. This is another blatant example of the scandalous corruption that is currently going on in football’s governing body. Garcia himself announced that his report did not clear Qatar and Russia and that his full report should be published. FIFA have refused to publish this report, therefore covering up any corruption committed by Russia or Qatar during their bid. There is no doubt that Blatter had a say in this decision. He claims he wants to reform FIFA; he has had 16 years to do that. He has failed.
Now it is time for his dictatorship to end. If UEFA make the decision to pull out of FIFA, Blatter will have no choice but to bring about real change. That change would undoubtedly have to be his resignation. FIFA could not allow a World Cup to take place without the likes of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, three of the countries who announced they would vote for Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan, 73 voted against Blatter in total. People will not flock to see a World Cup without the best sides present. If you take away the countries who voted against Blatter from the FIFA World Rankings, Cape Verde and Guinea are in the top 32, the number of teams who play at a World Cup. This match would not sell out.
The process may be slow if this action is taken. It may further tarnish football’s reputation in the short term. But without it, football could cease to exist. If this farce continues, football will not financially be able to go on. Major sponsors will be forced to pull out, and without this money, clubs will go out of business, and football will be over.
This move is no longer the last resort. It is the only option. FIFA is in crisis and UEFA must lead the way forward.