OUTGOING FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s legacy will ‘run through the veins’ of world football’s governing body for years to come says a Coventry University academic.
Professor Simon Chadwick said the collective sigh of relief among critics and cynics at Sepp Blatter’s shock departure yesterday (June 2) may be premature, and that – much like a World Cup final in extra time – ‘this isn’t over yet’.
Chadwick, who is professor of Sports Business Strategy at the city university, suggested it would be a ‘long goodbye’ from the outgoing president – with December this year as the earliest opportunity for a new FIFA president could be elected.
The professor suggested the emergence of a letter from the South African Football Association (SAFA) to Blatter’s right-hand man, Secretary-General Jérôme Valcke, could have forced the FIFA president’s hand.
He added: “If Valcke is under suspicion then Blatter himself is becoming increasingly exposed to scrutiny.
“And with the FBI circling and world opinion turning against him, Blatter has recently been running out of options, excuses and the loving support of his fellow FIFA family members.”
Professor Chadwick also noted that Blatter has already said he will use his new-found freedom in the intervening period before a new president is elected to ‘focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts.’
He added: “Blatter making one last play, this time as a great reformer – surely not?”
But, while Blatter remains as president, Chadwick suggests another possibility is that he will take the opportunity to position his heirs apparent to take up his mantle in a bid to secure his legacy.
He said: “This would be one final, joyous blow for Blatter to inflict – manoeuvring his boys into position while casting out his doubters and critics to the margins of world football – including, perhaps, UEFA president Michel Platini.
“Whoever ultimately replaces Blatter as president will face a daunting challenge and FIFA will need the strongest of leaders.
“Blatter will pervade the organisation for some time to come.
“The intense politicking of the next ten months will pass quickly, but the blood of Blatter will run through the veins of FIFA for some time yet.”