Tonight, the football world is shocked, hardly five days after the FIFA elections which confirmed its serving Sepp Blatter as its preferred and elected president. This Tuesday night he announces he will step down. It is my submission that not all are reading what is happening as this moment unfold. Most are consumed with a CNN and Sky News bias diatribe of reporting that uses certain words deliberately confusing the masses less in honesty.
These report ‘Blatter resigns’, what they do not tell us is Blatter announced he will step down over a protracted period which will stretch 6-9 months. They don’t tell us Blatter remains the FIFA elected president therefore unhindered in executing his plan for reform as tabled at the last elective conference of May 2015.
It is here that I see the brilliance of Blatter the strategist, playing a master stroke. He has just won his 5th Term and less than a week later he announces he will step down. Let us therefore unpack the claim of a master stroke:
Firstly, Blatter was duly and democratically elected at the elective conference of last Friday. This means he is the democratic, legitimate, legal and due president of FIFA. No one will ever be able to argue he lost any election for the presidency. That means despite the uproar it is his determination. Even if he steps down it will not be because he lost any election.
Secondly, the announced special congress for the election where a new president may or can be elected does not exclude any current leader of FIFA including Blatter to be that candidate. Please note Blatter never said he will not stand in the next special congress where a new leader may or can be elected.
Thirdly, Blatter took a brave decision and he may appear shaken yet he proves leadership, he says with this announcement I am owning up to the state FIFA finds itself in, its leadership and FIFA members cannot but see his confirmed leadership.
Again do not forget Blatter remains the current FIFA President, and in that position he now announces the convening of a special elective conference for FIFA. It is he who calls the special congress.
In the fourth instance Blatter states the reason for his decision to step down and FIFA convening an elective congress. When he states the reasons key among that is not the financial state of FIFA, key among that is not the fact that football is embraced in the developing countries as a reality brought to them by a FIFA who had foresight to opt against the tide for this upstream intent. Upstream because it was never Europe’s aim to see football outside its control.
Blatter says I have heard them from politicians to even member-federations and regions who have murmured and vocally stated that their challenge with his leadership. He thus throws down the gauntlet, firstly to those in FIFA whom I shall call the spineless ones who ensembles the Michel Platini’s who simply do not have the capacity or courage of convictions to challenge an election but wants to influence the outcome. It is interesting that in the case of Platini, France did not even support his call to upstage Blatter, and they voted for Blatter. (it should tell you how weak Platini and his cohorts are).
In the fifth instance the period for him stepping down is crucial. Blatter before and at his election made it clear that he will work for reform and change in FIFA. He was asking for time to fix the wrongs in FIFA and they heard him and expressed their confidence in him and gave him a legitimate 5th term. Thus, Blatter with this genius stroke gets his period of fixing the wrong leading his change mandate and he will do so unfettered.
In the sixth instance perhaps the most important aspect of this stroke of brilliance is the fact in all this reporting and commenting and chattering the most important group of FIFA members (federations) and regions are quiet. We must not deceive ourselves to think anybody but these will elect its president. Or even confirm that there may be a need for a new one.
The powerbrokers regardless how powerful in geopolitical context they may portend will not decide who the next president of FIFA is. Key to this is the fact that, the 209 FIFA Members have already voted less than five day ago and they may stick to their decision come March 2016.
Blatter knows this and he must have that quiet confidence that a drastic decision in break of the last elective conference is not in the offing particularly if these along with him produce the desired change in FIFA over the next year before the special congress.
This interference of powerbrokers may just backfire when FIFA’s 209 members hardened their stance in saying you will not direct us for your interference does not bode well for FIFA as an entity and its strategic thrust.
What many who now jump around simply do not afford themselves to hear is Blatter saying: I will remain responsible as mandated president of FIFA and discharge my duties. This means as difficult as this moment is for now it needs a let -up. Shrewd leadership is to understand how a moment is deflated in impact and comment how the pressure valve is becoming functional in releasing air by the skilled hand of one who had withered many storms before. I call it riding the storm.
Powerbrokers such as David Cameron of Britain on the back of his most recent election proved brave to call for a Sepp Blatter to step down. Angela Merkel from Germany did the same although not as vocal and overt as a Cameron. These sought to influence the outcome of the last election. The outspokenness of political leaders on football, does two things it shows how far we have progressed to have people external (politicians) publicly stating their personal or nation stance. Yet on the other hand it asks if and when governments and political leaders can so directly influence the outcome of a democratic process of electioneering in the life of an independent entity such as FIFA, should we expect the same political influence to be exerted in their domestic politics contexts by external groups such as FIFA or others.
The master-stroke is that Blatter is essentially and effectively in charge of FIFA and I dare argue that. It is Blattter who needs not to convene this special conference, yet he does it, he is saying I am in charge. It is Blatter who says FIFA needs massive restructuring, it is Blatter who at the time of his election less than a week ago who said, we must work to cleanse FIFA. It is Blatter who now says we will “convene a special congress where a new leader can be elected”. He is thus not stepping down, he is not abdicating and his stepping down if it will happen is not within this moment but essentially over a year.
For the record, Blatter has not resigned CNN will mislead us to use terms like “Blatter has resigned”. Blatter is the de- facto and elected president of FIFA duly elected as the world observed. Be not confused to assume Blatter is of the scene he is in control of this scene and has just confirmed his power leverage in saying to his detractors including of a what I call scared Michel Platini and a list of Europeans ‘bangbroeke’. He knows the traction of these claims and investigations would have blown away.
What will all those do when March 2016, come and the 209 FIFA gather in recommitting itself to its present leadership thus giving absolute credence to its decision to have FIFA led by Blatter as mandated a few days ago.
This investigation is not without malicious intend as it relates to South Africa. It is alarming that SA is drawn into this in what I choose to call snapshot-analysis, we are told the centre of the investigation is the SA bids of 2006 and 2010. This we all know is a convenient point of entry for these investigations. The investigation of the FBI and even Zurich itself is not looking at how the USA and Germany bids were secured, we not sure if we to accept that these bids unlike, SA, Brazil, Russia and Qatar were attained as under different circumstance whilst Blatter’s was also in charge.
If we for a moment accept the position of the detractors of Blatter is correct, can we also ask if FIFA received its red card as issued by a boisterous FBI investigation leadership, is it not time to issue the same red card to entities such as the UN – Security Council, IMF and World Bank who no different to FIFA operates and is run no dissimilar to a FIFA in the interest of a few.
South Africa in my assessment should take this debate of reform to all the structures upheld as authoritative forward. We dare not allow others to cast aspersions on our credibility and thus must place this debate where it belongs. For too long those who claim to have civilized the world have been allowed to uphold this ambivalent practices where they act as referee and player.
We also cannot discount the most recent reconnaissance fact-finding mission conducted by a FIFA delegation of which South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale was a part. This took place since there is a proposal that the Israeli Football Association warrant being sanctioned for the conditions under which the Palestian footballers have operate. The FIFA delegation visited Israel a week before the FIFA elections of last week Friday. We dare not allow these investigations to denigrate our sovereignty and credibility with this glaringly orchestrated aim of denigrating SA as corrupt when the bids of USA and Germany among others remain not susceptible to investigation – not even mentioned in the least.
We must ask did Sepp Blatter and FIFA become corrupt because of its association with Madiba?
Tonight we again know Europe is a fragile and threatened cohort hamstrung by its own intrinsic fear of having lost the control of football to pungent developing world. The USA is prepared to be the policeman or the bullet for the interest of Europe with a promise of a bigger hand in football one of the levers it never had control over. What these do not know is that football will never again belong to Europe alone. Hopefully soon we we will say the same about the UN Security Council, the IMF and the World Bank.
We the masses from the developing world tonight again knows this has nothing to do with football, even corruption this is about the economic power of football and the loss of control of some who have always believed they will control football.
In the end, I hold this is a brilliant and strategic move on the part of Blatter, because he will be in charge at least until March 2016 and will have the opportunity to make all the restructuring and necessary change agent activities.
He will do this with less heat as is currently the case, for many other political activities in our ever shifting geopolitical context may completely overrun this current focus on FIFA and Blatter.
His announcement today evidences the fact that him stepping down over a year renders the FBI investigations into a cul-de-sac since the actual head of FIFA targeted though conveniently not implicated as yet, is effectively driving the change strategy of FIFA. It is immaterial as to who and what caused the need for change, when change is happening.
Blatter has in my view played a master-stroke, he has just given new meaning to the term -riding the storm-. This is allowing the proverbial wave to crash however at your own pace.
In the end football or soccer will win as it has been winning when Blatter decided to take soccer / football to the masses the underdeveloped world and those who have always been disenfranchised.
In conclusion perhaps the words of Sepp Blatter’s daughter are more important when she asserted as late as this past weekend, ‘this is a storm in a tea cup, it will blow over’. Yes I agree it’s a storm in a tea cup and this announcement tonight of Sepp Blatter confirms his brilliance in a time of being wounded.
Clyde N.S. Ramalaine