Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blatter promises ‘radical’ change that isn’t so radical

It's presidential election day at FIFA headquarters, where disgraced incumbent Sepp Blatter takes on plucky man of change Sepp Blatter. Who will win what is sure to be a tense and close race. Will it be Sepp Blatter? Or will it be Sepp Blatter? The world awaits FIFA's decision with a slightly queasy feeling.

But due to all the uproar over the never-ending stream of corruption allegations to hit FIFA of late, the lone presidential candidate to survive the latest round of suspensions took the podium at the FIFA congress just before ballots were to be cast and promised that he has heard our cries from his ivory tower. Except for the one about postponing the election when both of the original candidates were implicated in a bribery scandal and only one made it through without getting suspended.

From Reuters:

"Reforms will be made, not just touch-ups but radical decisions and necessary reforms," Blatter said. "We must do something because I do not want ever again the institution of FIFA to face this again, which I must say is undignified."

He promised on Wednesday to shift power to award future World Cup hosting rights to FIFA's full 208-member congress, though the 2026 World Cup will not be up for grabs for another six or seven years.

Well, hey, there's a positive change. It would be a little harder to bribe the majority of the 208-member congress during a World Cup bid vote than just the 24 members of the Executive Committee. But guess who still gets to decide on the shortlist of candidates? The Executive Committee. Plus, it's easy to make promises about events that are six or seven years away. Plenty of time for people to forget.

In addition to that, Blatter also promised that the congress will elect a new committee -- from inside FIFA -- to examine FIFA's corporate governance. Because those kinds of committees have worked out so well for FIFA to this point. And then there was his promise of a one-day special congress to discuss all the corruption allegations and find solutions to them. In one day. One day.

What wasn't addressed? The head of the German football federation's calls for an investigation into how Qatar won the 2022 World Cup. It seems Blatter is still trying to protect what's already been done, despite tracing all these problems back to the vote that awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

So, we have a handful of promises that all maintain the insular and secretive nature of FIFA from the only candidate on the ballot. Radical.

SHOCKING UPDATE: Sepp Blatter has been re-elected with 186 of the 203 votes cast going to him. The 17 voters who did not put a check next to his name will surely be dealt with. Their families will miss them.

Photo: AP

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