FIFA has never been the poster child for well-run, squeaky clean organizations. There have been rumblings for years about corruption within the management ranks, but no concrete evidence or charges were brought up. Through it all, FIFA survived, seemingly more powerful than ever.
Of course, that all changed recently, with 11 FIFA executives banned for bribery or corruption charges dating back two decades as a result of criminal proceedings from the US and Switzerland.
The public face of all that was wrong with FIFA was President Sepp Blatter, and he did nothing to help himself, either. He awarded the 2022 World Cup location to Qatar, where migrant labourers are continually being worked to death and homosexuality remains illegal. According to the Washington Post, 1,200 workers have already died in Qatar since the games were announced. and 4,000 are likely to die while working on these sites.
On the problem of racism within global soccer, Blatter stated that most of it could be settled with a handshake. In another one of his most infamous comments, he said that to increase the popularity of women’s soccer, the athletes should wear tighter shorts. Then, of course, there’s the numerous accusations that he gave out bribes for his vote in his re-election attempts, and like any man addicted to power, said that he wasn’t going to run for re-election in 2011, but did so anyway in 2015.
With Sepp Blatter’s resignation comes hope that change will come. It’s obvious why he is resigning now after denying he would a few days earlier: like a long-winded car chase, the investigation is soon to close in on him. Vice-President Jack Warner is now under investigation, and ex-FIFA official Chuck Blazer admitted that FIFA did in fact accept bribes for the 1998 and 2010 World Cup Bids. Unfortunately, Warner’s official last day in power will be in December, but hey, that’s better than nothing.
The new President will have a heck of a job in front of them. FIFA needs to elect someone who embodies the respectful spirit of soccer. Former players such as Luis Figo and Michel Platini would be perfect for it. Luis Figo is a former Real Madrid and Barcelona star, and was running for election in 2015 until he pulled out stating that the “election process is a plebiscite for the delivery of absolute power to one man — something I refuse to go along with.”
Michel Platini is also a former player, and is the current head of UEFA. He has experience running a soccer federation, and like Figom is already well respected within the community. It took some outside force, but FIFA has finally gotten rid of the man who was holding them back. Now they have the chance to focus on their future.