Game over for Blatter
Disgraced Fifa boss finally concedes defeat and says his work in football has officially come to an end
It has been quite a week for banned Fifa president Sepp Blatter. His 17-year reign as the head of Fifa crumbled in disgrace after the world football governing body’s ethics committee banned him from the sport for eight years. On Monday, Blatter and suspended Uefa president Michel Platini were banned from any football-related activities for the next eight years for conflict of interest in a £1.35 million (R30.6 million at the current exchange rate) payment deal that is also the subject of a criminal investigation in Switzerland.
The bans were effective immediately and end any chance of Blatter continuing his involvement with soccer’s governing body.
The ban also casts doubts on Platini’s hopes of running for the Fifa presidency on February 26. But both men are not going down without a fight. They have maintained their innocence and have vowed to fight their bans through the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
While Blatter declared this week, “I will be back”, he was singing a different tune later in the week and conceded defeat.
Blatter told The Wall Street Journal his work in football was officially “finished”. “I’ve finished my work in football. I lost faith in our organisation on May 27 with this intervention by American law enforcement.”
Given that Blatter is 79, it is unlikely he will work in football again in an official capacity, while it means Platini – who would have been the favourite to win in February’s election – cannot run to replace Blatter.
Only five candidates have been approved to stand after passing Fifa’s integrity test.
They are former South African government minister Tokyo Sexwale, Jordan Football Association president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, president of the Asian Football Confederation Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, former Fifa executive Jérôme Champagne and Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino. Prince Ali stood against Blatter in the last election in May amid the corruption and bribery scandal.
The Blatter-Platini case that led to the ban centred on the payment the Fifa boss made to the Uefa chief in February 2011.
The pair claimed the fee was for consultancy work they had agreed on verbally, but it was made nine years after the work was supposed to have been carried out. They were found guilty of breaches surrounding the “disloyal” payment made to Platini. All the two are fighting for is to save face and for their reputations not to be tarnished further.
Fifa has been in crisis since the beginning of this year, particularly in the lead-up to the elective congress that saw Blatter re-elected as president in May.
Barely a month after his re-election, he resigned, due mostly to the Fifa scandal. Since then, 16 top Fifa officials have been arrested after US allegations of corruption at the highest level in football, and the federation’s general secretary, Jérôme Valcke, has been suspended.
Nowhere was Blatter’s support stronger than across Asia and Africa. He won the hearts and minds of Africa’s football establishment through Fifa’s Goal project, which delivers millions of dollars to improve facilities. But this is not how he had hoped his term would end at the global body with his image tarnished. Blatter and Platini are banned from soccer for eight years by the ethics committee