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Does It Matter Who The FIFA President Is?

Sat, 19 March 2011

So Mohammed Bin Hammam will be challenging Sepp Blatter for the FIFA Presidency after all.

I asked myself whether I should do a post about it at all, as I imagine the subject will be analysed to death elsewhere. My ambivalence can be summed up by the following passage in an earlier post about some of the issues facing football:

“I don’t know if Sepp Blatter not being re-elected as FIFA President would solve anything, but it would be a step in the right direction.”

The link is to a BBC article in which it was reported that:

The Football Association will back any credible challengers to Sepp Blatter in the Fifa presidential elections in June, senior FA figures have revealed.

The FA board is yet to take an official position on the vote as Blatter seeks a fourth term but members are said to feel it is time for a change.

….

“We think three terms is enough.”

The FA supported Blatter when he first stood for the Fifa presidency in 1998 but backed his defeated opponent Issa Hayatou in 2002.

Blatter was re-elected unchallenged in 2007 and is standing for election again in a vote that will be taken in Zurich on 1 June.

I imagine that in the analysis elsewhere, a lot will be made of the fact that Bin Hammam is President of the Asian Football Confederation and Qatari, in all likelihood, important factors in Qatar being awarded the 2022 World Cup, over which there has been much controversy, as reported elsewhere.

More significantly, bin Hammam’s proposal to limit the FIFA presidency to two terms was heavily defeated in March 2010.  As reported on BBC Sport at that time:

… a move to impose an eight-year limit on the office of Fifa president has been heavily defeated.

Asian federation chief Mohamed Bin Hammam had proposed the limit from 2011 onwards at the Fifa executive committee meeting in Zurich, but the motion was rejected by 15 votes to five with one abstention.

The usual mix of threats, promises, inducements and calling in of past favours, whether communicated expressly or impliedly, will surely make Blatter the favourite to be re-elected, no matter how much he is personally disliked.

Thuggery or neo-feudalism?  Perhaps they are the same thing.

The fact is cronyism and patronage has been endemic in FIFA for a long time.  After all, that is how Sepp Blatter came to take over the reins from João Havelange.

BBC Sport editor David Bond puts it more kindly:

“Blatter is a formidable sports politician. And while he may not carry the full support of his excecutive committee, he enjoys deep and loyal support from the 208 member countries who will decide this contest on 1 June in Zurich.”

He makes another interesting point:

“… does Bin Hammam really represent change? He has been on the Fifa executive committee for 15 years, has been a key ally of Blatter’s and, afterall, was the driving force behind Qatar’s successful World Cup campaign.

Will he really clean up Fifa or is he just another insider?”

He goes on to add:

“He has already set out his ideas to expand the executive committee, to streamline decision making and to build better relations with the professional leagues and clubs of Europe.

His vision for change will play well in the media but all that will have little influence over the Fifa congress which is not dominated by concerns over public image or the interests of big football clubs and leagues.

Here the minnows of the game hold the upper hand and Blatter has had them eating out of his for years.”

Which comes back to my original ambivalence.  In the bigger scheme of things, a challenge for the FIFA Presidency does not change the landscape.  The real battles are yet to come.  The seeds of future battles are discussed elsewhere on this blog, including:

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3 comments

  1. [...] don’t blame referees as much as I do clueless administrators at the top levels of the game, clinging on to their positions for the sake of power and [...]


  2. [...] Does It Matter Who The FIFA President Is?, posted on 19 March 2011 [...]


  3. [...] French disdain for the English, and is resentful of the money in the Premier League.  With no legal limit to the number of terms a FIFA President can serve, Platini will probably have a further 16 years to work on attacking English [...]



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