Time for football to win

HARARE - Since last Wednesday, all eyes of world football had been on Zurich after Swiss officials arrested 14 people including nine Fifa executives allegedly involved in bribery amounting to over $150 million.

The arrests were spearheaded by the FBI, who have been using former Fifa executive Chuck Blazer as a key witness in their investigation.

While all this was happening, Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who was preparing for re-election against Prince Ali of Jordan was not arrested or charged.

Most of football lovers from around the world expected Blatter’s name to be on top of the list of those arrested but that was not the case.

The 79-year-old weathered the storm of the arrests in Zurich and went on to be re-elected after Prince Ali pulled out of the second round of voting.

With that win, Blatter will be in office until 2019 unless something dramatic happens in the coming weeks with regard the FBI probe into the corruption at Fifa.

What was disappointing though is the fact that Blatter has gone on a warpath against the United States and British media.

“No one is going to tell me that it was a simple coincidence, this American attack two days before the elections of Fifa. It doesn’t smell right. This has touched me and Fifa,” said Blatter.

“There are signs that cannot be ignored. The Americans were the candidates for the World Cup of 2022 and they lost. The English were the candidates for 2018 and they lost, so it was really the English media and the American movement.”

Instead of preaching peace, it appears Blatter now holds a vendetta against nations, who want to see a better Fifa.

This is no time to be holding grudges but a period of reconciliation in which football should emerge as the winner.

But as things stand, it looks like the war is not over and Blatter, with a new four-year mandate as Fifa president, will be at the front foot, taking digs at his critics.

At the end of the day, if the current impasse persists, football will be the loser.

Already, most nations from the Uefa bloc are calling for the boycott of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

A lot of talented players and passionate fans will miss out if this happens.

If Uefa boycotts the 2018 World Cup, it would mean defending champions Germany and other European football powerhouses like the Netherlands, Spain, France, Portugal and to some extent Belgium and England, would not participate in the tournament.

The tournament in Russia will be devoid of such football talent like Cristiano Ronaldo, Marco Reus, Andres Iniesta, Eden Hazard, Memphis Depay and Antoine Griezmann.

Blatter should take a leaf from Prince Ali, who graciously accepted defeat and pulled out of the election after it was very clear he would not win in the second round of voting.

Prince Ali had polled 73 votes in the first round while Blatter had garnered 133 votes, not enough to secure a two-thirds majority.

The FBI investigation has shown that Blatter allowed a lot of underhand dealings to happen under his nose at Fifa.

In the event the Swiss national is not arrested, he should use his fifth term to stamp out all this rot at Fifa.

Right now what he is doing is burning all bridges and whoever is going to inherit the Fifa presidency in 2019 will have a lot of work to do to mend relationships.

At this rate, a split among the 209-member organisation is likely and football will be at risk of going the boxing way, where there are many different unions which govern the sport.

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