‘Untainted’ could just be the key word in electing the next Fifa president
If the insults that have been flying around are anything to go by, the race to fill Sepp Blatter’s position as Fifa president is going to be ugly.
Since Blatter announced he would be stepping down – which led to the football governing body setting the election date for February 26 next year – many an unsavoury word has been uttered.
First to cast a stone was former Manchester United star Eric Cantona – he of the infamous kung fu-style kick to a soccer fan.
When his compatriot, Michel Platini, president of the most powerful confederation within Fifa, Uefa, announced his candidature, Cantona sneered: “To choose between Blatter and Platini is like choosing between the plague and cholera.” Ouch! Then Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan, who stood against Blatter in the last election in March but pulled out after garnering 73 votes to the incumbent’s 133, weighed in.
Commenting on Platini’s decision to raise his hand as a candidate for the soon-to-be-vacant post, Prince Ali said: “Football’s fans and players deserve better. Fifa needs a new, independent leadership, untainted by the practices of the past.” And therein lies the rub. My wild guess is that we are going to hear the words “untainted” and “clean” quite often leading up to the February polls.
This comes from the school of thought that says, given the high level of allegations of corruption that have been levelled against Fifa, it is difficult to think other members of the executive were not aware of the shenanigans besetting their organisation.
The arrest of several members on the eve of Blatter’s election further strengthened that position.
Questions have also been asked about Platini’s declaration that he voted for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup. Some within football circles have implied that Platini’s public declaration was in a bid to deflect from the information that later emerged about his son Laurent being recruited as the chief executive of Burrda, a Qatari-owned sports kit company that is a subsidiary of Qatar Sports Investments, an arm of the Qatari government.
Also, the Qataris bought top French club Paris Saint-Germain and concluded major trade deals with France.
He has dismissed all this, saying: “All the decisions [he makes] are for the good of football.”
Before Prince Ali, Liberian Football Association president Musa Bility, who declared himself a candidate for Blatter’s post, also had a go at the Frenchman.
In a strongly worded statement – Bility – who was left with egg all over his face this week when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) declared they would not support his candidature – said: “Platini will bring chaos, more division and more problems.”
He went further and told the BBC’s World Football programme that Platini “doesn’t represent the change that we all want”.
The latest salvo in this continued volley of bullets came from South Korean strongman Chung Mongjoon.
Announcing his intention to stand, which he is set to make official with Uefa at the 2015 Super Cup between Spanish teams Barcelona and Sevilla at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Tuesday, he castigated Blatter for the damage he had done to Fifa.
The former Fifa vice-president, who has always been a bitter Blatter critic, said the Swiss was “like a cannibal eating his parents and then crying like he’s an orphan. He tries to blame everybody except himself.”
He said the reason he wanted to start by introducing his intentions at the Uefa event was because: “Europe is the centre of world football.”
He said he wanted to be part of the solution to clean up the corruption-tainted governing body.
“We cannot leave Fifa in this kind of disgrace,” he concluded.
Is there an “untainted” man out there who can lead Fifa out of the morass they find themselves in?