Sepp Blatter is out as FIFA president. The obvious next question is who replaces him. The only certainty: it will be interesting.
The Cayman Islands’ Jeffrey Webb was the young (relatively), well-regarded reform candidate, until last week when he was indicted. With so much power concentrated with Sepp Blatter for so long, there are few obvious successors in the ranks and even fewer who are viable, amidst ongoing investigations.
Things to consider:
* Any candidate must be elected by the FIFA membership. That means courting the same constituencies that came out for Blatter and the status quo. Running on reforming FIFA voting rules and ending the flow of money to developing countries will not win an election.
* Blatter will affect the vote. It’s just not clear how. His standing has fallen from what it appeared to be even a week ago. Voters and potential candidates should be emboldened by his departure. But, he still may hold sway with certain voting blocks, giving him some sway in choosing who succeeds him.
* FIFA has never had good leadership in the modern era. Blatter’s predecessor Joao Havelange took bribes and began FIFA’s modern corruption era. Havelange’s predecessor, Sir Stanley Rous, is best remembered for trying to keep apartheid South Africa in the FIFA fold.
With that in mind, here is a potential list.
Michel Platini [President – UEFA]
He’s a 59-year-old French legend and three-time Ballon d’Or winner. Has been UEFA President since 2007. Platini was mentored by Blatter. He was the presumed Blatter replacement, until Blatter chose to run again in 2015 and Platini withdrew his support. He’s talked the talk about reform. Though, he also supported the Qatar bid in 2022 and had a son coincidentally get a lucrative job with a Qatari company after the vote. He’s the candidate of rhetoric and not much changing on the ground.
HRH Prince Ali bin Hussein [President – Jordan FA]
The 39-year-old was President of Jordan’s FA. He was a FIFA VP for Asia and the youngest member of FIFA’s executive committee. He lost the 2015 election on Friday, albeit with a late upswell of support. He’s on record supporting substantial reform. Charisma may be an issue, as HRH would face an uphill battle to court many voting blocks. Fear of Blatter may have cost him some votes. Was he the best candidate or the only one opposing Sepp Blatter?
He’s a 56-year-old former Blatter protégé, serving FIFA in various capacities before being forced out in 2010. The Frenchman has talked a big game about reform, including a re-vote for 2022. He stood against Blatter for 2015, though he withdrew his candidacy in February. He’s articulate. He has served as a consultant for federations on multiple continents. Notably, he was instrumental in many of the development programs that won Sepp Blatter Africa’s support.
Figo stood for President in 2015, then resigned his candidacy in disgust. The 42-year-old Ballon d’Or winner retired in 2009 and has spent much of his public life doing charity work since. He’s young, he speaks multiple languages and he has an outstanding head of hair. Figo has little experience in soccer administration, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing at this juncture. He could win a public vote, but this is anything but.
The 54-year-old Argentine may be the best soccer player ever. He’s without question the most popular. He published a scathing call for Sepp Blatter to resign before the election. He’s held little responsibility, beyond a brief spell as Argentina coach. Personal finances and travel to Italy would be a concern. But, he’s a born politician, without an office. He could be a rousing anti-Western imperialist candidate. He’d be the best possible outcome, for those tasked to write about soccer.
Story by Ghana/Joy Sports/Gary Al-Smith
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