Thursday, June 04, 2015

"Step Ladder" falls!

So, Sepp Blatter has decided to step down as Fifa president. It's not been an unwelcome decision in many circles, but it was certainly a surprise. He had previously stated his opinion that he was the man to restore confidence in the organisation, but given that the fall out we are seeing reflects badly on his tenure, it was difficult for anyone except Mr B to see how he could possibly sustain that argument.

It would be wrong at this point to assume that Fifa is the only world governing body is sport that has elements of corruption in it. Doping scandals in cycling, match fixing in cricket, allegedly tampered water at the Rugby World Cup back in 1995. Not forgetting athletics as a whole and all it has faced over the years. Even as I edit this post the breakfast news is running a story about the Panorama programme about drug taking over decades in athletics. Corruption is not just about officials taking payments to vote in favour of one candidate or another.

Having said that, the list of charges being brought against Fifa officials is startling, but maybe not that surprising. Are we actually surprised that where there is a large amount of money sloshing around, there is widespread bribery and corruption. The whole debacle over the staging of the World Cup in Qatar probably raised more suspicions than any other international sporting decision. 

My favourite quote so far in this whole sorry mess that brought a smile to my face came from one of the UK's football leaders. Commenting on Sepp Blatter's term as president, they said:

"He's been a fantastic leader, but arguably one that probably stayed on a little too long. 
"Let's place credit where credit is due. He's been at the helm and taken world football to be what it is today."
And what would that be? In the eyes of many it is the most corrupt and broken organisation in the world. Not the best CV for it's leader. It's almost like suggesting that the leaders of the world's financial institutions did a great job taking us into the worst economic recession of the modern era since the Great Depression. Let's hope they meant something rather more positive than that when they said it!

As each day reveals more allegations and even confessions, it begs the question of where does world football go from here. I wonder too whether criminal prosecutions will precipitate a root and branch clean up or just drive the truth deeper underground. Perhaps there needs to be some degree of amnesty that would allow the truth to be disclosed and a new start made to overhaul the organisation. How you balance such an amnesty against prosecuting crime is something prosecutors and governing bodies will need to work out.

Oh, and by the way, it was Hugh Dennis who once suggested Sepp Blatter sounded like "Step Ladder". Just in case you were wondering about the title!!

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