Critics want FIFA boss Blatter out now

2015-06-05 05:00
A FIFA rostrum after FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced his resignation. (Ennio Leanza, AP)

Berlin - To Sepp Blatter, it would seem to be almost business as usual as he sits at his presidential desk at the headquarters of embattled world soccer governing body FIFA.

Certainly, there are no obvious signs that the Swiss, who rocked the world of sport this week by announcing he is relinquishing his grip on global soccer, is ready to walk just yet.

Growing numbers want him to leave now, as claims of corruption point at the highest levels of the organisation.

Should go now

English FA chair Greg Dyke said: "His position is untenable and he should walk immediately.

"In any big organisation once the man at the top says he is leaving, he should go."

But Blatter doesn't see it that way. It is hardly surprising. This is a man who former colleagues say is always first at his desk in the morning, last to leave at night.

He routinely sits alone, deep into the evening, reading reports alone.

When contacted over the growing claims for him to step away at once, his office simply reiterated his stance.

"The president clearly explained in his speech that he will lay down his mandate at an extraordinary elective FIFA congress," a FIFA spokesperson said.

Finds his successor

Shock after shock has juddered the 111-year organisation in the last week since police raided FIFA delegates at the congress and arrested a number on suspicion of corruption.

But perhaps the biggest shock of all must be that Blatter remains comfortably behind his desk.

Blatter is intent on staying in office until that extraordinary congress finds his successor some time between December and March.

Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan, who lost to Blatter in last week's presidential election in Zurich, wants to explore if he can replace Blatter without the need for another election.

David Bernstein, a former English FA chairperson who quizzed Blatter at the 2011 congress during a votes-for-cash scandal that swept Mohamed bin Hammam out of FIFA, agreed with Dyke that Blatter should go.

"It reminds me of the film Alien - you could not get the alien out of that spaceship no matter how hard you tried. And when, in the end, they did get it out, they found it was clinging on the outside," he said.

"This man cannot help himself. He will cling on to the last moment. It is partly for him to control what comes after him, which is the last thing we need."

But what, or who, comes after him is unclear.

FIFA's statutes do not cover what should happen if a president resigns suddenly, apart from stipulating that the senior vice president, now Issa Hayatou of Cameroon, should deputise if the president is absent.

The confusion has arisen because Blatter is the first president to effectively abdicate office in FIFA's history.

Kind of farce

Previously, men like Jules Rimet who ruled for 33 years, and Joao Havelange, for 24, announced they would retire at the end of their terms on age grounds and the next congress duly replaced them.

But Blatter was only four days into his fifth term of office, and quit just days after saying he was "the president of everyone" and had no intention of stopping now.

Prince Ali, Dyke and Bernstein are not the only ones who think Blatter will do more harm than good by sticking around.

Newly elected FIFA executive committee member Kozo Tashima of Japan says Blatter should step down before a successor is decided.

"He cannot be allowed to leave things as fuzzy as they are and it's a kind of a farce now for him to stay in office for the next six months or however long it takes to decide the new president.

"There is no reason for him to resign if there's nothing on him, but if there is something on him then you could make the argument that he shouldn't be allowed to stay on a moment longer."

Someone not tainted

Damian Collins, the British MP who founded the 'New FIFA Now' pressure group to try to influence those entitled to vote for the president, said he was delighted Blatter had resigned.

He told Talksport radio: "The whole of the FIFA organisation became rotten under Sepp Blatter's leadership and so his removal is good as we have got rid of the rotten head but we have to deal with the rest of the body now.

"I think Sepp Blatter should go straight away. There should be an interim president...someone not tainted by the mistakes of the past.

Meanwhile Dutch coach Guus Hiddink called for a complete overhaul of FIFA.

"The whole organisation needs a shake-up and it will be better if it is not led by an established football man," he said. "We need someone fresh with no links to any existing organisations."


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