Dear Sepp Blatter,
You have resigned. Finally. And it means just one thing – the beautiful game still has a chance. This is a moment to celebrate, this is a moment to rejoice, because nothing and nobody associated with you, Mr Blatter, (Read: Blatter’s cronies) has ever been involved in anything that can be termed honourable.
Because the muck in football has been planted right from the top, under your express supervision and manipulation in 17 years in charge of FIFA, the game’s governing body.
But irony died an untimely death as you addressed the press conference on Tuesday. FIFA needs a ‘profound overhaul’, you proclaimed. Well Mr Blatter, the reality dawned on you just a decade too late. Because your defiance turned into desperation in just 4 days, with the FBI hot on your trails. Even after the Swiss attorney general said that he is not under investigation by Swiss authorities, you, football’s dictator, are no more safe from prosecution. You are now at the centre of the FBI’s corruption probe.
As you decided to lay down your ‘mandate’, its time for you to face the truth.
‘While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football – the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at FIFA,” you said.
But you never really had the mandate, did you? You manipulated smaller footballing nations, aspiring super-powers of the beautiful game and slick-in-oil rich Sheikhs of the Arab world to remain in the hot seat for years. You gave similar powers of Spain, Germany, Brazil, Argentina et al to non-existent footballing nations like Maldives. Not for the upliftment of the game as you professed but to keep yourself in power.
WATCH: Sepp Blatter Resigns, The FIFA Press Conference
On Tuesday morning, as the American probe swept up your right-hand man, Jerome Valcke, implicated in a $10million bribe for awarding the 2010 World Cup to South Africa, you suddenly you remembered about ‘integrity checks for all Executive Committee members’. But it rings as hollow as a drum because during the World Cup in South Africa, it was the worst kept secret how exactly was the World Cup was played in the African continent for the first time ever.
It rings hollow because you tried to hide your shame behind a dead man just before your press conference, pinning the blame of the muck on Julio Grondona. And when it came, suddenly, it shocked all of us.
Your FIFA said the $10m was authorised by the then-chairman of Fifa’s finance committee, the late Julio Grondona. But it took a letter posted on twitter – from the South African FA’s former president Molefi Oliphant to Valcke – shattered those claims in hours. And brought down your world.
BOMBSHELL: Letter from South Africa FA to FIFA instructing $10m payment to Warner WAS addressed to Jerome Valcke pic.twitter.com/b0yKBPRAcA
— Martyn Ziegler (@martynziegler) June 2, 2015
But your demise was never inevitable, never obvious, because you were the ultimate survivor, building an empire, brick by false brick, on a web of deceit and corruption.
But then you promised something which again scares any lover of the game and should put the fine Swiss authorities on alert once more (despite all their banking secrets and love for secrecy as a matter of principle).
Mr Blatter, you need to realise that time is running out for you quickly and how. The Interpol has now issued Red Corner notices against your cronies. American federal agents, who last week charged 14 FIFA officials with corruption, have put it on record that they are hoping those arrested will help them build a case against their former boss.
The net is closing in, Mr Blatter and its closing fast. You are not hoping to drive any reforms in FIFA anymore, but to use the paper-shredders and fire-place in the swanky glass edifice located at FIFA-Strasse 20, P.O. Box 8044 Zurich, Switzerland. But you cannot shred or burn testimonies, can you?
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the game does not need you, nor does it derserve any of your cronies to succeed you.
The game and its remaining ‘honourable’ men (and hardly a few women) needs to ensure that. One woman ensured that. Kudos to Attorney General of the United States Of America Loretta Lynch.
But still, you, the much reviled administrator, will sit as the head of FIFA. You are not going away anywhere too soon nor do you intend to. According to FIFA rules, the earliest a new leader can be elected would be in four months.
That’s plenty of time for you to set the ‘agenda’ for when he’s finally replaced. The ‘agenda’ which you set to build a carefully crafted culture of kickbacks and corruption that risk ruining football for a generation.
You will only go away if Loretta Lynch catches up with you and the prisons of America open their gates for you. Usually, even after 9/11, America welcomes their doors quite easily! Very soon, Mr Blatter, very soon. The damning 40-page testimony from FIFA whistleblower Chuck Blazer is just the first blow to the previously impregnable walls of your FIFA.
But I cannot finish writing till I have sung an eulogy for you. In many ways, you sir, has been the guiding light to many a sports administrator who have brought their respective games into disrepute. Like cricket. Like cricket’s top boss N Srinivasan. You are an inspiration. You are not a crook, but the biggest crook of them all. In all fairness, you deserve a Knighthood for your talents.
And I suspect that the legendary singer Pete Seeger, whose interview presented me the opportunity to write my first ever newspaper piece 19 years back as a college student, will be happily smiling from the heavens because in a footballing context, he might have finally found the answer to his masterpiece:
“Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?”
The flowers of the beautiful game can bloom again. But it will only bloom when the eternal spring withers around FIFA-Strasse 20, P.O. Box 8044 Zurich, Switzerland only for a new sunshine to emerge.
Hopefully, the golden generation of football is awaiting their turn.
Honourably yours, in spite and hope,
Sumon K Chakrabarti
(Sumon is the Managing Editor, Digital at FootTheBall. He’s a football fanatic and a die-hard Arsenal and Barcelona fan. It is his dream to coach a football club in Europe before he loses all the hair on his crown.)