Sepp Blatter’s resignation as Chief of the FIFA Exchequer came as quite the surprise, since it indicates signs of a conscience and political acumen we were quite sure he did not and could not have.
After all, you can’t run a sewage plant like FIFA with an educated olfactory sense.
But it changes next to nothing because, well, because Blatter was the face but not the soul of international graft ... er, soccer. He watched it, benefitted from it and defended it for as long as he could, but he is merely the hat at the top of this sootpile. The hands-out philosophy is able to adapt to any change in leadership, and the idea that a new president can clean up all that needs a scrub is naïve at best.
Blatter, in fact, will be missed because he was such a glorious comedic figure. Being the face of greed needed a deft touch, and while any old banker can take in and distribute money, it took a rubber-faced roly-poly of a man with fractured English and a monumental level of brass to go with his mangled syntactical skills to make it so caricature-able.
In other words, say what you will about the illusion that he and FIFA have learned how to be shamed, but we suspect that he is actually the only one that got that memo. Whether he was pushed or walked on his own, FIFA is like all large organizations -- it resists change, especially change brought on by the insistence of oversight, with great ferocity.
Imagine if you will, and it wouldn’t be hard, how difficult it has been to get the NCAA to acknowledge its many sins. Consider how long it will take to get the NFL to learn the value of transparency at the end of a camera lens. Think of the International Olympic Committee ... if your stomach can handle it.
Blatter’s resignation is a nice cathartic moment, sort of like the end of a Road Runner cartoon in which Wile E. Coyote gives up his latest seven-minute pursuit of the bird. But there are other cartoons, and other cartoon figures, in the FIFA queue. Maybe Prince Ali, the man who challenged Blatter for the last “election,” will become the new boss, but the weight of history will make him the old boss soon enough.
The problem? There are just barely enough jails to pull in all the miscreants, and there is too much money to be made for there not to be miscreants. Worse yet, there are only so many Jack Warners, combining arrogance and ignorance so elegantly, for us to kick around, and what we can expect from Blatter’s successor is a slicker presentation of all the swinish behavior that greases the gears.
So thanks for next to nothing, Sepp old shoe. You left a mess behind, and nobody in your wake will be able to clean it up unless the sport’s powerful countries are prepared to clean it up every day. Here’s a vote that says that all we got today was a face we can no longer mock, and that the next face will be harder to spot. FIFA is nothing if not adaptable to the changing images of the same old con.