In my very article in January 2015 I warned the world about Sepp Blatter and why he must be stopped for the good of football.
This week I reminded the editor of one of the publications I sent the article to but who had graciously refused to publish it then because, in his view, the publication would have been ‘punished’ by probably the most powerful man in the world at the time who controlled more countries than even the United Nations.
He remembers all right. The challenge was that 12 months ago no one in football dared to tamper with Mr. Blatter. He wondered where I got the guts from to dare to walk where even angels trembled.
The world was in Blatter’s pocket. His word was law. He could do and undo. Whenever he coughed the rest of the world caught cold. Some countries had to shamefully sheath their laws and sovereign rights in the face of Fifa statutes. Countries were threatened and even banned for challenging Fifa’s authority. Corruption, impunity, and dictatorship thrived throughout the world in national associations and continental confederations, powered and protected by Fifa and its president.
What happened in Fifa during the outgoing year (2015) was inconceivable and unprecedented. Indeed, there may never have been a year quite like 2015 in the annals of football. No one anticipated what was to become the greatest scandal and controversy in the history of ‘the beautiful game’.
At the start of 2015 I was only one of a handful of persons in the world that dared to raise the issues and warned the world about the consequences of Blatter re-contesting for the presidency of Fifa again.
Permit me to recall parts of that article. It encapsulates the most significant developments in sport in 2015. As I do so I realise rather humbly how daringly prophetic I was. Enjoy it…
Sepp Blatter must be stopped now!
As the world enters into 2015, I have set for myself one goal, a resolution of some sort – to join forces with whoever loves the game of football to stop Sepp Blatter from returning as president of Fifa when the next elections are held this year.
I just do not understand it.
The sit-down syndrome in any organised setting is anathema to good governance, and is denounced globally for its penchant to turn even good leaders into power-drunk dictators.
The history of the world is littered with the story of several such political leaders. Their end usually is a sad story of abuse of power, corruption, internal strife and conflicts, controversy and the death of true democratic principles.
As the race for the presidency of Fifa begins, the worst news to come out of Zurich is that Mr. Blatter has not only indicated he would be running again but that no-one within the Executive Committee is actually challenging him, despite the mountains of scandals and controversies that hang around the neck of the organisation and now threaten the integrity of the greatest game in the world.
Whereas I do not intend to go into the details of the ugly scandals and charges that have rocked Fifa since Blatter became its president in 1998, and that have claimed several high profile victims within the football family through the years (Jack Wanner, Bin Hammam, Lennart Johannson, Farra Ado, and so on), the mere fact that Blatter promised that he would not be re-contesting again after the 2011 elections makes his recent announcement very annoying. The man is making a mockery of the rest of the world.
The man’s word cannot be trusted. It is just ‘full of sound and fury signifying nothing’.
Mr. Blatter started his career in Fifa in 1975. That means that he has been part of the organisation for 40 years. He has spent the last 16 as its president. By next year he will be 80 years old.
In a period in history when the world is preparing to send young men to the red planet, and planes that will cross the Atlantic in one hour are being designed, what is the new innovation a geriatric is bringing to the world’s greatest sport? What did Mr.
Blatter forget to do in the past 40 years that he has been part of the organisation that he now wants to introduce at the twilight of his life? What is he afraid of in a new leadership? Or better still, what is he hiding from the world that he thinks will remain hidden forever?
It is truly disheartening, shocking and disappointing that despite the numerous monumental scandals that have rocked the world body through the years, and the baggage of charges that Blatter has had to carry and parry with impunity, and that presently and menacingly threaten the integrity of the game of football, the man still has the guts to eat his own words and announce to the world that he would be re-contesting.
The great tragedy is not that he wants to run, but that he might likely win again if he does while the rest of the world is watching and keeping silent.
What hold does Mr. Blatter have over the other members of the Executive Committee of Fifa that makes them cower in the face of his arrogance?
Recall how Bin Hammam withdrew from the race in 2011. Recall how Issa Hayatou, threatened by the IOC for allegations of corruption, bowed to pressure and withdrew also.
For example, why did Michel Platini, tipped by many after 2011 to be his likely successor, withdraw his candidacy from the race as soon as Blatter indicated interest to return?
It is really shameful and unacceptable that the man under whose watch some of the most atrocious corruption charges have been levied remains uninvestigated and untouchable atop the organisation.
Even the most recent controversy about the bribery allegations surrounding the 2022 World Cup and the Garcia report that was mangled to protect some interests within the organisation, are been swept under the carpet.
Mr. Blatter has become too powerful for comfort. Unless and until he leaves the organisation, Fifa and its activities will continue to remain shrouded in the murk of scandals. It is amazing that with the developments following Garcia’s report, protest and resignation, the Fifa president did not step aside to allow for an independent inquest to protect the integrity of football and of Fifa.
Instead, he is contemptuously going ahead with his plans to perpetuate himself in power.
Guilty of all these charges or not, Sepp Blatter has had his time, served football well but must now go.
If he does not do so voluntarily and with dignity, he should be stopped by all means and at all costs from contesting the 2015 elections, period. The world has had enough of the shenanigan.
Let me remind Africa that this is the man that disrespected the continent’s greatest hero, Nelson Mandela last year. One day after Mandela died, during a Fifa event for the 2014 World Cup, Mr. Blatter rudely interrupted a one-minute silence called for Mandela after only 11 seconds.
So infuriated were some people that they vowed to do everything to stop him from returning as Fifa president should he dare to run again in 2015.
That time has come.
All of Africa must rise up now and say no to Blatter.
Since Sepp Blatter, has the temerity to seek to perpetuate himself in office, we the people also have the audacity to say no to another four years of his dictatorship.
That’s precisely why he must be stopped. Now!
is a columnist on www.supersport.com