By Ryan Mayer, CBS Local Sports
The biggest domino has fallen. In a hasty press conference today FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced that he would be resigning from his position as the head of the organization. This decision comes just three days after he was elected for a 5th presidential term on Friday in the wake of more allegations of corruption, this time focusing on the 2010 World Cup. Reports indicate that special elections will be held for the presidency sometime between December and March.
The logical thing to do in this situation is to look to the future and see who could possibly be the next head man. For me, I return to the guys that had been in the election with Blatter. One followed all the way through to the actual vote, while the other two had pulled out of the race just weeks before the corruption charges were leveled. Let’s take a quick look at those three candidates before we get in to who I’d choose for the presidency.
Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein
The Prince ran against Sepp Blatter in the election on Friday and after Round 1 of voting was down 133 votes to 76 before conceding prior to the second round of voting. He currently holds positions on five different committees and has been an executive congress member since 2011.
Figo is well known to soccer fans for his time with FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Internazionale. The Portugese star was the Ballon d’Or winner in 2000, which recognizes the best player in the world. He put his hat into the ring for presidential election this year after working from 2011-2015 on the UEFA Football Committee. He along with the next candidate pulled out of the presidential race prior to the election and wrote about his reasons in a coherent well thought out Facebook post. If you want an idea of the platforms he ran on they can be found here.
Michael Van Praag
Van Praagcurrently serves as the Dutch FA president. He laid out his manifesto a couple of times during the course of his campaign. One of the major points was for more money that is generated by the World Cup being given back to national associations. If you want to read more into his ideas for changing the way FIFA operates, it can be found here.
There is still plenty of time obviously before the elections will be held and we’ll get a better idea of who is actually going to be in the race in the coming months. These three are assumptions on my part based off of their previously expressed interest in the presidency. Meanwhile, the William Hill Sportsbook has released odds on who will be the next head of the organization and their favorite is UEFA head man Michael Platini.
All of this is to say it’s very much up in the air. However, if I were to have my pick I would take Figo. The reason for why is simple: He’s a former player in the game and understands the issues that FIFA faces not only from an organizational standpoint but also from an on the field product standpoint. We’ve been focused on the corruption aspect with all of the recent news and rightfully so. The sport’s governing body is laughably dirty in the way they have done business. The biggest issue is the lack of trust that fans of the sport and some coaches and players have as well.
I think Figo could ease some of those tensions. He’s outside of the current power structure for the most part meaning he doesn’t have an association with these back room dealings. That’s not to say that either Prince Ali or Michael Platini have participated in those dealings. We have no proof of that, and I think they’re very respectable leaders of their current associations. However, I think the sport could benefit from someone on the younger side (Figo is 42) who has been in the game, while also having served in the organizational side of things.
In the end, any of these candidates will be better for the game than Sepp Blatter. Quite frankly, I’m not sure it’s even possible to be worse.