{WIN­NERS AND LOSERS }

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - — Kevin Bax­ter

This fig­ures to be good for soc­cer and FIFA, and it could be bad news for Qatar and its 2022 Cup. The U.S. ac­tion gets ku­dos, and is re­sented by much of the world.

Af­ter FIFA Pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter’s sur­prise an­nounce­ment Tues­day that he would re­sign af­ter new elec­tions to find his suc­ces­sor, we take a quick look at its im­pact on the soc­cer world.

WIN­NERS

SOC­CER — In­ter­na­tional soc­cer has been try­ing to es­cape a cloud of doubt caused by game-fix­ing, run largely by in­ter­na­tional crime syn­di­cates, and cor­rup­tion, man­aged at least in part by of­fi­cials of FIFA, ac­cord­ing to last week’s fed­eral in­dict­ments. But if the res­ig­na­tion of Blat­ter helps re­form FIFA and makes the or­ga­ni­za­tion harder to com­pro­mise through bribes, that could make it eas­ier for soc­cer of­fi­cials and law en­force­ment to take on the il­le­gal bet­ting op­er­a­tions. Now if they could only do some­thing about div­ing.

THE U.S. — The Jus­tice Depart­ment brought the in­dict­ments that led to Blat­ter’s down­fall, chal­leng­ing the per­cep­tion that FIFA was too big and pow­er­ful to top­ple. So far there’s been no ev­i­dence to sug­gest U.S. Soc­cer had any role in the bribery scan­dal that ousted CON­CA­CAF Pres­i­dent Jef­frey Webb, even though many of his al­leged crimes oc­curred on U.S. soil.

FIFA — Soc­cer’s global gov­ern­ing body has be­come a cash cow, rak­ing in $5.7 bil­lion in rev­enue over the last four years. And it did that while bat­tling per­sis­tent claims it was cor­rupt. Now if FIFA em­braces its new-found op­por­tu­nity for re­form, be­comes trans­par­ent and truly changes course, it could be­come even more valu­able.

LOSERS

SEPP BLAT­TER — With the FBI and Jus­tice Depart­ment crosshairs fo­cused squarely on him, FIFA’s once-de­fi­ant pres­i­dent ap

par­ently felt he had no choice but to step down. Given the hasty retreat, it will be in­ter­est­ing to see if charges emerge.

QATAR — If strong ev­i­dence sur­faces that Qatar did not fairly win the right to host the 2022 World Cup, FIFA could well de­cide to hold a sec­ond vote in an at­tempt to cleanse it­self of cor­rup­tion. Given the black eye Qatar’s World Cup bid has al­ready given soc­cer, it would stand lit­tle chance of win­ning that revote.

THE U.S. — Yes, the United States gained a lot in terms of clout and pres­tige by bring­ing down Blat­ter and the FIFA estab­lish­ment. But it also lost too. Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s attack on the in­dict­ments as an­other ex­am­ple of Amer­i­can im­pe­ri­al­ism found a sym­pa­thetic ear in many de­vel­op­ing na­tions. And that could hurt U.S. chances to win the vot­ing to

host the 2026 World Cup.

Philippe Desmazes AFP/Getty Images

QATARI and Rus­sian lead­ers pose with Blat­ter in 2010.

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