Four days after winning his fifth term as the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter announced that he will resign his position once new elections can be arranged as the organization comes under further scrutiny thanks to investigations by the U.S. and Swiss governments. Though not originally implicated in the Justice Department indictments, the walls have been closing in around Blatter as new revelations continue to come out about shady transactions from Zurich headquarters to key executives that were arrested last Wednesday. So, after 17 years atop the FIFA hierarchy and four decades serving in some capacity within the federationm, Blatter will be out likely this fall or winter when the FIFA membership congregates next.
Does that necessarily mean that there will be substantive change within FIFA? The next president will be elected under the same conditions of one-country/one-vote politics that facilitated so much of the graft coming to light, and many of the favorites in the running are Blatter proteges. Men like Michel Platini understand all too clearly that pretty much every country that will never come close to a World Cup is relatively satisfied with the status quo. Several reform candidates are in the field, but their ability to unilaterally execute sweeping change is a left-field candidate can sweep in on a mandate that can demonstrably prove that drastic reform would provide growth for all 209 members, the next FIFA president will have little incentive to make more than cosmetic changes to standard operating procedure.
What does that mean for the laundry list of grievances that most fans share about business as usual within the governing body entrusted with the stewardship of the global game? Well, don’t get hopes up too much about any movement in host sites of the World Cup. Russia will almost certainly still hold the 2018 edition, and whether in summer or winter Qatar will likely remain in position to host the 2022 tournament. The next president will be only so willing to tackle issues of transparency within the organization, given that any candidate is going to come from a pool of people who have colluded for years.
Knowing that, British bookmaker William Hill released odds for seven candidates to succeed Sepp Blatter. Let’s look a little more closely at the three frontrunners named in today’s list and see how each might affect the future of FIFA before taking a chance at predicting which will emerge when the membership reconvenes in Switzerland.