‘Un­tainted’ could just be the key word in elect­ing the next Fifa pres­i­dent

CityPress - - Sport - S’Bu­siso Mse­leku sm­se­leku@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Sbu_M­se­leku

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?

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