With the FIFA presidency election looming, Sepp Blatter thought he had all but won the vote already. With his supposed closest challenger Qatar’s Mohammed Bin Hammam not stated his intention to run, it looked as Sepp Blatter would win the elections. However, step forward Grant Wahl, a 37 year old American sports journalist most famous for his book, The Beckham Experiment. A fortnight ago, he stated his desire to be FIFA president and displace the person who has brought corruption and unfairness into the game.
After he replaced the Brazilian Joao Havelange after 24 years of power, Sepp Blatter’s spell started with corruption surprisingly enough. Following his 1998 election victory over UEFA’s Lennart Johansson, the Somalian FA president Farah Addo said that Blatter had bribed him with more than $100,000 dollars to vote for him. Along with his many other related issues, he has also been criticized for his view on women’s football, in which he said that they should wear tighter shorts and low cut shirts in order to attract male fans. He added to this prehistoric statement by jokingly saying that any gay fans heading to the 2022 Qatar World Cup should “refrain” from any sexual activities, to which he was attacked by gay rights groups and former NBA star John Amekachi for his views. He also brought the unpopular silver and golden goals to the game (though these were withdrawn during his reign), the yellow card for taking off your top when celebrating a goal, and no matches to be played above 2500 metres above sea level which cause complaints from South American nations Bolivia, Venezuela, Peru as well as Diego Maradona. His most controversial move was to give the 2018 World Cup to Russia, despite many issues with racism and then the ludicrous decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a very small Arab nation with a population of less than a quarter of London’s. You can say that after this, he has been more of a hindrance than a help to the beautiful game.
Now, his challenger is Grant Wahl, a sports writer who writes for American publication Sports Illustrated. Unheard of by many before announcing that he will stand up and challenge Sepp Blatter for the ‘FIFA throne’, his possible plans for the job are interesting and in my view, are seen as the’ People’s Plan’. A recent poll on the Sports Illustrated website showed that 95% of people voted in favour of Grant Wahl getting the presidency, with Mohammed Bin Hammam getting 3% and Sepp Blatter a flattering 2%. One of his ideas is to have a Wiki leaks style clearout of FIFA’s internal documents. He also wants to dispose of the one referee per country at the World Cup and give it to the refs who are at the best of their abilities. This could see Howard Webb being the last English referee to host a World Cup match. He also wants to see the back of the yellow card rule if you take of your shirt. A pointless rule from the start because Iniesta winning the World Cup and taking off his shirt after scoring the winning goal was worth the same as Ben Thatcher’s ridiculous elbow on Pedro Mendes a few seasons back.
Another one of his changes will see the long awaited introduction of goal line technology. Despite Sepp Blatter’s feeling that the game will become less human and more technological with this introduction, the game will improve with the referee’s authority still there. The only one of Wahl’s quota of changes I disagree with is the decision to appoint a female general secretary. If a woman gets the job, that’s great, but it has to be that they are the best for the job and not because of their gender. His final idea is that no FIFA president, including himself, should serve more than two consecutive four year terms. This is due to Sepp Blatter and his predecessor Joao Havelange having shared a combined spell of 38 years between them in office. He knows that to move from sports journalism to the internationally scrutinised role of FIFA president will not be easy, but points out that two former FIFA presidents have also been sports journalists, including Sepp Blatter.
We probably know the likely outcome of the elections, in which Blatter will most likely triumph and get a third consecutive term. However this is the chance for change and for FIFA to be a respectable and a corruption free organization. It is now time to use the Anti-Sepptic to wipe FIFA clean and to start afresh.
Let us know your thoughts. Do you think Blatter should be overthrown as FIFA president for Grant Wahl or would you recommend someone else for the role?