If you watched Sepp Blatter’s press conference on Monday in Zurich, and if you’re anything like me, you would have cringed at the state of world football administration. Is this the best they can do? I’m not just talking about Sepp Blatter here either. There are 25 other people on the FIFA Executive Committee.
Via #NewFIFANow, we wrote to all members of the Executive Committee on Sunday inviting them to think more about the game than their role in it. Other than one person who did have the grace to respond, it fell on deaf ears – so we have the answer to what motivates them most.
It’s fairly well known that Blatter has been President for 17 years and was Secretary-General for 17 years before that. But if we accept his constant point that FIFA isn’t him alone you only have to look at others on the Executive Committee, to ask what have they been doing all this time.
One man, who most of the world has hardly heard of, Senes Erzik of Turkey, has been there for 29 years. Dr Michel D’Hooghe of Belgium for 27 years. Senior Vice-President Issa Hayatou from Cameroon 25 years. Another Vice-President Angel Maria Villar Llona from Spain for 17 years. And yet another – the man being touted as the next-most-likely President – Michel Platini of France, for 13 years.
We have every right to point the finger and be critical at all of the FIFA Executive Committee who have been there for more than the past few months and ask them what they’ve been doing to improve governance, but these six gents, including Blatter, deserve special attention.
How can you sit on the Executive Committee of an organisation for between 13 and 29 years and not realise what was going on under your nose, especially when investigative journalists and former football officials tried to tell you? After all, these six men (as did a few others on the existing Committee) served with Jack Warner who was there for 28 years from 1983 to 2011 and Mohamed Bin Hammam who was there for 15 years from 1996 to 2011.
The six of them were either deaf, dumb and blind – as apparently is the Secretary-General of US Soccer judging by his appearance before the US Senate last week – or at best, conveniently turned the other cheek or, at worst, were complicit.
But what this does point to yet again is that FIFA cannot be trusted to reform itself. You cannot have those in power in Zurich controlling what a post-Blatter FIFA is going to look like.
They will cherry-pick reforms to make it look like they’re doing something – and some of them may even be worthwhile – but unless and until there is a top-down and bottom-up overhaul of the current system and culture within world football, not just FIFA, there will not be change.
FIFA has had faux go’s and failed at so-called reform and committees before. Blatter’s rambling, cringeworthy announcement on Monday is no different from every other time.
It won’t win trust. It won’t earn confidence. It’s not how to #FixFIFA.