We are about a month away from the FIFA presidential election that will decide who succeeds Sepp Blatter as the leader of world football and already we have more red flags flying about than anything vaguely resembling the transparent election, let alone the internal headquarters cleansing, the sport so badly needs.
First, we are told that the candidates will be meeting tomorrow at that Mecca of world football, Qatar, to discuss potential voting bloc alliances prior to the voting on February 26th. The fact that a precipitating factor in the need for the current election is precisely that Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid was tainted does not appear to factor into, let along hinder, the planned migration.
Second, we hear that Swiss front-runner, Gianni Infantino—Michel Platini’s man, who in turn, we have found out, was more Blatter’s man than less—seems to already have obtained commitments from UEFA’s bloc of 53 votes and CONMEBOL’s bloc of 10 votes. Again, the fact that UEFA’s boss is under investigation, as are so many of CONMEBOL’s leaders, would lead any sighted outsider to consider the potential negative perception such an easy cross-continental alliance might pose, particularly when the resulting support could crown an extreme insider.
Third, we notice that the leading candidates, from Asia and UEFA, have all but marginalized the remaining candidates to the point that some are already thinking in terms of obtaining advantages from joining one camp or another. We might be excused in thinking that perhaps some of the candidates FIFA cleared to run were cleared in order to take up space, that way ensuring more legitimate contenders did not crowd the field. Certainly Tokyo Sexwale, considered by many a FIFA stooge, seems bent on working his role as the insiders’ outsider in an attempt to guide African votes toward the candidate most likely to reciprocate kindnesses.
Fourth, Sepp Blatter himself, currently appealing his latest ban form the sport, is talking about attending the election. The idea that he still has not accepted his own predicament, let alone seem cognizant of the inappropriateness of his attending, is mind blowing. But so is the glacial speed at which full charges are being considered against him.
Fifth, the fact that the Swiss authorities, now investigating Blatter via a whistleblower, seem to feel that “in another year or so” they might just have enough evidence to indict, might lead some to consider what may be the proper location of FIFA’s headquarters. Maybe, instead of Switzerland, we might consider a nation with a more agile, contemporary, and untangled legal system, one that might not have needed a cross-continental assist to sniff out what was going on under its own nose for decades.
Sixth, it is curious that ultimately votes are tallied by country when it is clear that more often than not votes are curried and obtained in bloc form and long before the election ever takes place. Aside from the mentioned bloc votes by confederations in Europe (UEFA) and South America (CONMEBOL), witness Central America’s semi-bloc vote. What is curious here is that Central America is part of CONCACAF, the confederation that represents those nations along with the Caribbean, and North American nations. What might a split mean if it turns out Canada, USA, Mexico, and the island nations, vote differently?
Seventh, isn’t it interesting that the BBC was unable to get the candidates to agree to a televised debate, as is routinely done in most democratic elections of all kinds? It would have been interesting to see the stylistic differences represented in the respective responses when the likes of candidates Sexwale, Ali, Infantino, and Salman, responded to a technical, administrative question, or even a general one such as: What would you do to make FIFA more transparent?
Unfortunately, it seems as if we are headed for so much more of the same that the drama of the past several months will come to be seen as a waste of time and effort. Then again, why not expect the FIFA election result to be rigged, when we live in an era where Matt Damon can win the Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Golden Globe award for his work on the lyrically hilarious The Martian, and then the same movie wins the best picture award in the same category, AND…everyone accepts it with a straight face?!