Sepp Blatter, the embattled leader of soccer’s governing body, isn’t ready to step down. There’s one small problem: he tendered his resignation at a press conference a while ago. Does he plan to un-resign?
According to an article in the Business Insider, that’s definitely a possibility.
Michael Hershman, FIFA’s former governance adviser, sent a couple of clear hints in early June that Blatter could reconsider, even going so far as to tell ESPN‘s Jeremy Schaap that he wasn’t sure Blatter would leave FIFA’s top post.
In a story filed on Sunday, Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag reported insider claims that Blatter was receiving support from African and Asian football associations urging him to reconsider stepping down.
In nearly two decades as FIFA president, Blatter has given extensive financial support to these football associations and received their votes for his presidency in return. Thus, it’s easy to see why they’re not keen on seeing Sepp leave his post.
When Blatter announced his resignation, it was on the heels of some major criminal indictments against current and former FIFA officials, including racketeering, money laundering, and other broad corruption charges. The charges are all connected to a $150 million bribery scheme that saw member organisations throwing money at FIFA executives for the right to host the World Cup. When Quatar, a country whose summer temperatures exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, won its bid to host the 2022 World Cup, suspicions that the whole process is rotten to the core were raised even further.
Blatter was not named in the indictment and was actually re-elected only two days before the indictments and arrests were carried out.
FIFA plans to set a new date for a new presidential election in July. But the European parliament has said that it wants Sepp Blatter to be gone for good, and sooner rather than later.
As ESPN.com notes, lawmakers from 28 European nations at a meeting in Strasbourg, France, voted on a resolution calling for Blatter to accelerate his announced resignation and let FIFA appoint an interim leader.
“FIFA is perplexed by the European Parliament’s resolution,” said the Zurich-based soccer body in an official statement. FIFA is not mandated to follow the parliament’s instructions and has previously dismissed criticism by lawmaker groups, including the Council of Europe.
Despite calls to step down, there are some insiders who say that it will be difficult for someone new to step into his shoes.
“It’s hard to find someone who is equal to him, ” said PR consultant Klaus J. Stohlker, who worked as Blatter’s personal adviser from January to the end of May.
“Blatter has built the organisation into a global, highly successful company, and he’s a top diplomat. Blatter has a reasonable chance. It now depends on how he behaves in the coming months.”
[Photo via ESPN.]