We are now in the death throes of Sepp Blatter's ailing and failing Fifa regime. No dictatorship willingly gives up its power, but the only question that really remains is how and when it will finally fall.
The internal threat to the regime is being led by UEFA, the body that represents football in Europe, which has called for the Fifa presidential election on 29 May to be postponed for six months. Now is the time for other football nations to back them up. Fifa will try to ignore this, and part of the politics of the Blatter years has always been to try and play off the interests of the leading football nations in Europe with those of the developing football nations, as if they were mutually exclusive. At the Fifa Congress the vote of say, San Marino counts for as much as that of Italy. Sepp Blatter has always made sure that he has looked after the smaller countries and in return expected their support.
The ultimate sanction that lies with UEFA would be to threaten a boycott of future Fifa tournaments unless there is change and reform of the organisation. Most of the money in world football is generated by the European clubs, with large audiences around the world paying to watch their players in action. A revolt from within Europe would be a massive blow to the commercial strength of Fifa. If we are serious about reform, England, and other leading European Football Associations, have to be prepared to walk away from Fifa.
The second great commercial threat to Fifa comes from its major sponsors; brands like Coca Cola, Visa and McDonald's who pay large sums to have their logos attached to the world's most popular game. It is time for them to step up and speak out about the ongoing crisis at Fifa, driven as it is by the persistent allegations of financial corruption against some of its leading executives. The campaign group, New Fifa Now, of which I am a founder member, is urging football fans who are also customers of these businesses, to lobby them directly urging them to demand change at Fifa or to consider moving their financial support elsewhere. This pressure is starting to pay off with Visa now stating that Fifa needs a new "culture with strong ethical practices in order to restore the reputation of the game for fans everywhere." Visa has further warned that "it is important that Fifa makes changes now... Should Fifa fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship." The sponsors need to spell out though, that this kind of change would be impossible if Sepp Blatter remains.
It is the members of the Fifa Congress, the football associations who represent every playing nation on the planet, who have the power to bring down the Blatter regime, and pressure from the sponsors makes such a revolution more likely. Should that fail now, it will not be the end of matters. The authorities both in the United States of America, and Switzerland have made clear that their criminal investigations into Fifa and the decision to award the World Cup finals tournaments to Russia and Qatar are still ongoing. Sepp Blatter could still be interviewed by them as part of their criminal proceedings and there is also the prospect that the 14 individuals who were arrested in Zurich on 27 May, as part of these investigations could have secrets to reveal of their own.
This crisis will eventually bring down Sepp Blatter, and if it continues much longer could wreck Fifa forever.Suggest a correction