Pressing Issues: Blatter’s power play is a puzzling ploy

2011-06-04 16:24

Sepp Blatter’s reinstatement as Fifa president for a fourth term – meaning he will be 79 and would have been at the helm of the ­organisation for 17 years when it expires in 2015 – raised more questions than answers.

The biggest question is: Why did Blatter want this term at all costs?

Even when England provided an opportunity for the election to be postponed at the ­beginning of the Wednesday session of the Fifa congress, members voted 172 to 17 for the sham to go ahead.

What will happen if the ­suspended Mohammed Bin ­Hammam, who was to oppose Blatter in the presidential elections, is cleared of any ­wrongdoing at the end of the ongoing investigation?

Will Fifa order a re-election? How is Blatter going to repair Fifa’s damaged image?

How is he going to restore the confidence of long-time sponsors (or partners as he prefers calling them) such as ­Coca-Cola, Adidas and Emirates Airlines who all registered ­concerns about the shambles at Fifa this week?

Will people have confidence in him that he was genuine in his promise to clean up Fifa given that there were accusing fingers pointed at him, leading to him appearing before the ethics committee on Sunday?

These are just some of the questions Blatter will have to face and answer through his actions for the next four years.

Given the above, this term could prove to be the toughest since he ascended the throne 13 years ago and questions will ­also be raised whether his 75-year-old legs will be able to ­carry him through.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, though, as Blatter has promised to introduce some changes including that all 208 member associations will ­in ­future vote to decide the World Cup hosts rather than the select 24-member executive.

He has also suggested that he will co-opt a woman onto the ­executive committee.

Some might take this with a pinch of salt though coming from a man who once suggested that the interest in women’s football could be given a boost if players wore skimpier shorts and that their World Cup be played every two years – comments that were not well ­received by some women’s rights ­activists.

Blatter also plans to introduce a new international watchdog by the name of “the solution ­committee”, but left much to be desired when he mentioned the octogenarian former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger as one of the potential members for this structure.

The other person bandied about was the forever critical Dutch football great, Johan ­Cruyff.

The metaphors Blatter used to pepper his victory speech of Fifa as an “off-course ship” and “a shaking pyramid” could not have been more apt. – smseleku@citypress.co.za

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