The only real surprise was the swiftness of the announcement. Even then, it will be a long time and take a lot of evidence to convince me that this wasn’t the plan all along. Win the election and then, knowing the FIFA statutes inside out as he no doubt does, Sepp Blatter knew it would take six months or so for the necessary vote to be put in place to replace him.
With Jerome Valcke’s refusal to travel to Canada – assumed in the media to be avoiding the risk of arrest – for the Women’s World Cup, we ought to have suspected something was up. When notification of an unscheduled press conference emerged, the speculation began but it all seemed barely credible.
But this will run and run. Three months, six; that’s plenty of time to tie up the sort of loose ends which prosecutors might find useful to unravel the corruption previously proven. There’s a hint of the path Blatter’s defence is going to follow. Conspiracy theories are being quietly dropped barely days after they were venomously aired. No longer are the British media and the US authorities entirely to blame, Sepp has easier targets to hit,
The Executive Committee includes representatives of confederations over whom we have no control, but for whose actions FIFA is held responsible.
It wasn’t us, it was them. It was them but can anyone prove they were acting for ‘us’? Perhaps ‘us’ needs to be capitalized.
Things won’t change immediately, the corruption has tangled its roots too deeply into the culture of FIFA. A new broom is to be welcomed but expecting the organisation to change entirely, immediately, is unrealistic. It won’t happen. After all, are there are any credible candidates from within? Surely, no matter their protestations, anyone linked with Blatter’s FIFA is stained. An outsider, someone who hasn’t been involved with this particular Gravy Train is the only one who can rise above the unholy alliances that Blatter encouraged and fed.
Anyone who thinks Greg Dyke is the answer should switch the lights off when they leave the room.
I genuinely don’t know who I would suggest. If you look at football administrators involved with the Premier League, the Football Association, there’s no-one who stands out as an outstanding candidate. The movers and shakers from the English game shamefully abandoned the basic principles of it being the Peoples’ Game. Platini and the rest of world football’s big-wigs have no clearer conscience than those now ensconced in the halls and corridors of power. It wasn’t so long ago that the Frenchman was deemed the heir. Now he’s the spare, unable to pull the fractious UEFA family behind him so FIFA is surely ten steps too far.
Is it time for a complete outsider to come in? That’s a path fraught with as many but different dangers. The key battle will be to inspire – instead of conspire with – Blatter’s acolytes. Perhaps I am wrong but there is as much distrust on both sides of the fence, from the people with much to lose to those who hope to profit from the Swiss’ departure. Any replacement faces the problem of reconciling the conflicting interests which pervade the underground caverns below FIFA-strasse.
Perhaps that’s what is needed, someone to ride roughshod over the self-interest. Is it possible? Blatter’s departure leaves a vacuüm; how it is filled is probably the most important decision football has to make, one that will impact the course of football for years to come.
It’s A Rich Man’s Getting Richer World
All this on a day when this season’s Premier League prize and broadcast revenues were announced. Finishing third in the table, Arsenal earned £96m. Even bottom of the pile QPR earned £65m which is a staggering amount. Little wonder that most relegated clubs begin the season as favourites to return immediately to the Premier League. As the commercial and broadcast deals increase, so too will the parachute payments they receive making The Championship an even harder division for clubs to break out of.
All of which is based on the false notion that the clubs making money are going to use it wisely. QPR prove that isn’t always the case. All that money and they still fail miserably to stay in the Premier League. It used to be WBA who were the yo-yo club but no, the West Londoners were far worse than that. Rule Number 1 for Premier League survival: don’t be an acronym. West Brom prove the point, staying up far more often than WBA.
The money gap gets bigger when the Champions League kitty is shared out. Arsenal will earn more than before, less than others. It’s always been that way, probably always will. Having the funds available makes shopping easier, there’s a bigger marketplace open to Arsène, even if he doesn’t want to buy there. Whilst commanding a bigger fee doesn’t guarantee that a new player will be successful, it offers more comfort that the chances of the move working out are higher. Either that or the selling club ripped the buyer off something chronic.
Squad replenishment and enhancement is part of the natural flow of football. What’s interesting as this season ends is the number of players at Arsenal who are already moving to close off speculation about their future. Theo Walcott’s PR this time is a lot more positive about signing a new deal than last. He may genuinely be on the verge of agreeing terms but more likely that Team Walcott have learned from previous negotiations that playing hard to get in the media has a negative impact on supporters views. Four goals in two games never hurts anyone in the popularity stakes.
With Szczesny and Monreal both publicly stating they want to stay indicates that the players sense there are real possibilities of a title challenge. Whether Arsène wants them is another matter entirely but it makes his job far easier to have stability, to know that two or three new arrivals are not going to disrupt unduly. The initial reaction from any player worth his salt must surely be to improve their performance and make it harder for the manager to drop them.
There will always be discontent if players aren’t playing regularly but for most of the squad, injuries will intervene in their favour. And if they care to look at the goalkeepers, they will see no-one’s place in the side is guaranteed, something which seemed inconceivable 12 to 18 months ago. The times, they are a-changing.