Corrupt to the core: Where does FIFA go from here?

FIFA, the governing body of world football, has hit a brick wall. No longer are the masses appeased by the gladiatorial action of a scapegoat being flung into the lion’s den. No longer are the emperors untouchable. No longer will football suffer the ignominy of being run by a legion of the rich and powerful.

There still remains a lot of unanswered questions. Will the various individuals under investigation face further sanction? Will the 90 day bans for Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini be extended? Will more corruption be found? How deep does the problem run? It could be called a spider’s web of lies and deceit, but a rabbit warren seems more appropriate, given that we don’t know where it will end or who we’re going to bump into next in this dark, dark place football has found itself. So, where does FIFA go from here?

Holding the FIFA presidential election as planned

There has been talk of the scheduled presidential election to be held, as originally planned, however the camp supporting this option are already split. With Prince Ali insisting the election goes ahead on the date already set, those supporting Platini are voicing the idea of the election being postponed until after the temporary ban has passed on the Frenchman.

If the election goes ahead on its current date, 26th February 2016, Platini’s ban would have passed, however the deadline for nominees is on Tuesday 20th October 2015, which means Platini will not be able to run. Prince Ali claims that delaying the election would add to the instability of an already shaking organisation. Whilst he is correct in saying this, it is hard to believe this is the primary motive for his speech.

After all, Platini is the heavy favourite to succeed Blatter as president, so omitting him would be a huge coup for Ali’s camp and add another twist in this game of thrones that the whole of Westeros would be proud of. Would it be at all beneficial to hold an election where one of the primary candidates was forced to sit out?

So what about delaying the election? The problem here is that the longer FIFA goes without a president, the longer this farce will continue. However, if the election is still to happen, the general consensus is for it to be delayed until any investigations into potential candidates are concluded.

Bring in an external presidential candidate

The idea of bringing in an external president to run FIFA until it is out of the mire it currently resides, or perhaps even longer term, has been publicly backed by Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee. The theory makes a lot of sense. Someone with no previous ties and “of high integrity” coming in and reigning in the wild horses seems the ideal solution, but, in practice, it will likely take more than one person to change the mind, body and soul of FIFA.

There is not going to be a huge amount of the public sad to see the current FIFA candidates denied the opportunity to sit at the head of the table, but many are too concerned about one thing: what is to stop this external president from joining the feast?

In particular, the IOC speaking up on the issue is hugely ironic, considering the controversies that have tarnished the Olympics in the past. In fact, some even believe that there is a lot to be learnt from the IOC in FIFA’s very own Carry On… spin off.

Complete overhaul or replacing of FIFA

This is the most extreme option of the three, but one many believe is necessary to truly rid football of its rotten apples. By changing the way the world football governing body works, and who is in power, there can be new life breathed into the decaying corpse so long considered a criminal haven.

However, it would be hard to see a change of governance without a state of chaos engulfing football for a few years. Other questions would be raised too: will all rules be reviewed? Who will choose the new employees and how can anyone be so sure the corruption won’t enshroud them too?

This option is a popular one on the surface, but scratching any deeper could make it unfeasible due to the nature of overhauling an organisation of the size and presence of FIFA.

The verdict

Prince Ali wants to “avoid instability”, but really this reeks of a man desperate to take advantage of the diminished opposition. Trying to stabilise an already broken organisation is a pointless exercise, particularly if the new leader is appointed in such a rush. If anything, this quick-fix option could return to haunt football a few years down the line when a hasty appointment sees very little change and the status quo resumed amongst FIFA’s fat cats.

The complete overhaul of FIFA is a long-term goal, and so should be thought of as one. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all that jazz. There will never be the wholesale change that is sought after, particularly with so many people tugging in different directions, so the change of FIFA needs to come slowly, yet assertively, across the next ten years. Furthermore, the idea of a complete repair job on FIFA is in complete conflict with the idea that it needs to be stabilised.

The two remaining ideas are the most likely, and probably the best short-term fixes too. Either delay the election until after all investigations have finished, with an interim president to handle all day-to-day tasks, or elect an external president, at least for one term. These options provide a way of changing FIFA from the top down, if done correctly.

If a strong leader is brought in, it could change the face of this despicable organisation and help bring in a structure that can continue the reforms. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but could it be possible that a powerful candidate is out there, somewhere, and willing to run FIFA without milking it for every drop it’s worth?

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it won’t be torn down in one either. The crowds have voiced their disdain and the hierarchy is crumbling in front of our very eyes. Gather in your thousands, folks, we are about to witness history.

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