Sepp Blatter: I've already started cleaning up FIFA
Just two days after becoming the face of soccer corruption, disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said he has begun working on ways to clean up the sport’s governing body.
Blatter – who announced his decision to resign on Tuesday as the FIFA corruption crisis continued to build and spread around the world, tweeted a photo of himself yesterday sitting in a leather chair with a light blue jacket and no tie.
“Working hard on reforms after meeting Audit & Compliance Committee Independent Chairman Scala,” Blatter wrote, along with a link to a statement released by FIFA.
FIFA has been plunged into crisis since seven soccer officials were arrested at a luxury Zurich hotel ahead of the FIFA congress. They were among 14 people indicted by the US Department of Justice on corruption charges.
A law enforcement source has said that Blatter, who has not been officially implicated in the case, is a target of the investigation.
In his statement yesterday – the first since calling for new elections to find a successor – Blatter said he met with FIFA audit panel chairman Domenico Scala “to establish a framework for action and a timetable” for his final months.
He made no mention of his status as a target of the American investigation. Instead, he kept the short statement focused on reforming an organisation he has presided over for 17 years.
“I want a comprehensive program of reform and I am very aware that only the FIFA Congress can pass these reforms,” Blatter said in the statement.
In a separate investigation, Swiss authorities are looking into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests won by Russia and Qatar.
In his resignation speech, Blatter promised a final round of modernising reforms before leaving office. That includes finding a date for a presidential election by next March.
He also pledged to bring in term limits for his successor and FIFA executive committee members, and tougher integrity checks for election candidates.
Blatter’s statement came after separate investigations into soccer corruption were opened in South Africa and Australia.
The South African probe revolves around allegations of bribery related to the country’s winning bid for the 2010 World Cup, while Australian authorities are investigating corruption claims surrounding Australia’s failed bid for the 2022 World Cup.
Meanwhile, a movie largely paid for by FIFA and trumpeting its glories is set to open in a handful of US theatres and on video-on-demand.
United Passions is a $30m production starring some big names, including Tim Roth as Blatter. It’s a starry fiction that casts FIFA’s history and its leaders in a glowing light.
United Passion also stars Gerard Depardieu as World Cup creator Jules Rimet and Sam Neill as former FIFA president Joao Havelange.
Unsurprisingly, it features a happy ending – something that seems set to be missing from the real-life events unfolding around FIFA at the moment.