It appears that Sepp Blatter’s cunning ploy succeeded. Mohamed Bin Hammam has pulled out of the race to serve as FIFA President, leaving the field about as competitive as a number of US House seats (though Blatter himself is now also under investigation for corruption). Refreshingly he didn’t pull out to spend more time with his family, but rather to prevent the sullying of the FIFA name.
However, in the wake of Chuck Blazer’s apparently well evidenced and documented allegations last week, FIFA still have some ‘splaining to do. Tory MP Damien Collins has launched the charmingly named “International Partnership for the Reform of FIFA“. As its blog suggests, this is an embryonic organization. It’s not clear to me just what leverage such a body, or the politicians from among Germany, Australia, and the United States that constitute it, can have to encourage or force reform of FIFA. The most effective play that they can make is trying to convince member associations to leave FIFA and set up a new governing body. This is a long shot at best, though Collins has not rejected such a move. The mere threat of withdrawal may convince FIFA to reform from within in order to save its role in the sport, especially if one of the regional associations (e.g. UEFA) goes along.
With Bin Hammam out of the way leaving the election uncontested, I doubt there will be any substantive reform from within; indeed I fully expect Qatar 2022 to go ahead as insanely planned. Likewise, any movement for reform brought on exogenous to FIFA lacks the leverage necessary to effect change from without.
I hope I’m wrong, but optimism eludes me.
In other soccer news, there was a small match in London yesterday, where Barcelona owned Manchester United. I didn’t shed a tear, but then I’d root for the New York Yankees against Man U.