The ‘abrupt’ end of Blatter’s era

Madrid, Feb 25 (IANS) When Sepp Blatter said on June 8, 1998 that it would be an “abrupt” exit from the FIFA if he did not win the presidential election, he did not know that day would eventually come after 17 years.

The Swiss did not imagine even in his wildest dreams that he would be forced to leave his office because of police investigations, or that he would be subjected to sanctions from a committee he established, reports Efe.

His own creation, FIFA’s Ethics Committee, was the first to devour him and now it is impossible to detach his name from corruption.

He could not defeat, like he always used to do, those who dared to stand against him in presidential elections, such as the Swede Lennart Johansson in 1998, Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou in 2002 and Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein in 2015.

Despite his reelection as FIFA president last May 29, and his resignation four days later amid corruption scandals after the arrest of a number of his assistants, Blatter wanted to continue to lead FIFA until the upcoming presidential elections next Friday, but FIFA’s Ethics Committee, which he established, cut off this track and suspended him for eight years.

Since his exit in October 2015 Blatter has not been allowed to enter the FIFA headquarters to appeal the decision and to defend himself against the governing body of the world’s most popular sport.

FIFA has also requested the Swiss prosecution open an investigation into the granting of Russia and Qatar the rights to organize the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and 2022 respectively.

The main reason for suspending Blatter for eight years, as well as Frenchman Michel Platini, was the approval by the Swiss to give Platini two million euros ($2.24 million) in an “unfair payment” in return for services provided by Platini in 1999 when he was still an ally, before he turned against Blatter later on.

These sanctions have prevented Platini from running for FIFA president in the elections at FIFA headquarters in Zurich next Friday.

During Blatter’s era Africa hosted the World Cup for the first time in history, while the door has been opened to allow Australia to host the competition.

The Ballon d’Or award has become more important, while soccer’s social responsibility has increased thorough initiatives aimed at integrating sports with anti-racism policies, as well as protecting minors.

The so-called FIFA Goal Project, which granted $1 million to the neediest federations, guaranteed Blatter’s stay in FIFA for four consecutive terms at the helm of the organization.

Blatter was born in the Swiss city of Visp in 1936 and is fluent in five languages; English, French, Spanish, German and Italian.

He has a degree in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Lausanne and was a colonel in the Swiss Army.

Since 1975, Blatter’s name has been connected with FIFA, where he worked as a general secretary from 1981 to 1998.

The Swiss revealed a few days ago that he does not intend to support any of the current candidates for the FIFA presidential race, although four of them have already talked to him in this regard.

The suspended FIFA president is not giving up when it comes to defending himself, and lamented what he considers as the slaughter of FIFA, pointing out that he is not responsible for crimes committed by people from North America and Latin America.

It seems that this is the end of the Blatter era, an ending which must be very different from what he had imagined during his time as FIFA president.

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