unlikely to be the saviour of world
football. Yet that didn’t stop the FAI
and 39 other European federations
opting for Prince Ali bin Hussein
over departing FIFA President Sepp
UEFA, led by one time Blatter
acolyte Michel Platini, indulged in
the same sort of self-serving posturing
at the recent FIFA Congress that has
made Blatter such a deeply unpopular
fi gure among ordinary football fans.
And if anyone is looking for a footballing
white knight from emerge
from Europe, the most cash rich and
powerful football continent of all,
then you’re in for a long wait.
Platini? The man who voted for
a World Cup in the searing heat of
Qatar? Certainly not he. The Frenchman
can hardly be described as a
unifi er either given that 10 football
associations from within his own federation
opted for Blatter over Prince
Ali, with three more abstaining.
And bear in mind that, as boss of
UEFA, he could not even propose an
agreed UEFA candidate to challenge
Blatter in Zurich barely a fortnight
Platini the administrator is not,
by any stretch of the imagination, as
adored as he was when dazzling for
‘Les Bleus’, Saint Etienne and Juventus.
So in terms of moulding a bold
new future for FIFA, Platini cannot
be seriously viewed as being that
potential fi gurehead.
And what of England, and the prospect
that ex-Manchester United CEO
David Gill might perhaps be the man
to reboot football’s governing body?
Who knows, but to hear John
Motson (prior to the FA Cup Final)
talk about the ‘honourable’ Stanley
Rous, deposed as FIFA President by
Joao Havelange in 1974, the same
Stanley Rous, lest we forget, who
supported apartheid in South Africa.
Talk about selective recollection.
Those same delegates who voted
for Sepp Blatter on May 29th, as well
as Prince Ali of course, will be asked
to vote for a new FIFA leader between
now and the end of the year.
These delegates, a predominantly
male group, largely middle
aged to elderly, do not strike me as
a constituency one would expect to
catalyse an administrative revolution.
So for all the talk about changing
FIFA at the top, then what about all
those who have supported Blatter
for 17 years as President, with many
allied to him since he joined the FIFA
payroll in 1975?
Blatter was Havelange’s anointed
one to succeed him as FIFA President.
Between them both, for 40 years, they
have wielded the sort of infallibility in
offi ce that one would normally only
associate with the Bishop of Rome.
For four decades, they wined,
dined, charmed and cajoled football
association chiefs the world over,
particularly in what we in the west
term the ‘developing world’, and that
earned both men enormous levels of
deference and loyalty.
Will this loyalty to Blatter evaporate
between now and the Extraordinary
FIFA Congress? I doubt it, and
that will surely be made manifest if
a candidate associated with Blatter
puts himself (let’s face it, it will be a
he) forward and ends up winning the
I’ll certainly be glad to see the back
of Blatter, but a ‘driven snow’ future
for FIFA is far from guaranteed.
As for the €5 million John Delaney
secured from FIFA? It looks like good
business for chancing one’s arm after
Thierry Henry chanced his that night