Blatter legacy will run deep at FIFA for years, says sports business prof

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Wednesday 03 June 2015

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Simon ChadwickOutgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter's legacy will "run through the veins" of world football's governing body for years to come despite his surprise resignation yesterday, according to a sports business expert.

Professor Simon Chadwick said the collective sigh of relief at Blatter's departure among critics and cynics may be premature, and that – much like a World Cup final in extra time – "this isn't over yet".

Chadwick, who is professor of sports business strategy at Coventry University, said:

While Blatter may have just resigned, it will be a long goodbye. To elect a new president at the next ordinary FIFA congress would mean waiting until May 2016, hence Blatter has called for an extraordinary congress to take place. But this is unlikely to take place until December 2015 at the earliest and possibly even as late as March 2016 – still nearly ten months away.

He has already stressed that during the intervening period it will 'free [me] from the constraints that elections inevitably impose, I shall be able to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts'. Blatter making one last play, this time as a great reformer – surely not?

On Blatter's resignation, Chadwick said the emergence of a letter from the South African Football Association (SAFA) to Blatter's right-hand man, Secretary-General Jérôme Valcke, could have forced the FIFA president's hand.

If Valcke is under suspicion then Blatter himself is becoming increasingly exposed to scrutiny. And with the FBI circling and world opinion turning against him, Blatter has recently been running out of options, excuses and the loving support of his fellow FIFA family members.

However, while Blatter remains as president, Chadwick suggests another possibility is that he will take the opportunity to position his heirs apparent to take up his mantle in a bid to secure his legacy.

This would be one final, joyous blow for Blatter to inflict: manoeuvring his boys into position while casting out his doubters and critics to the margins of world football – including, perhaps, UEFA president Michel Platini. Whoever ultimately replaces Blatter as president will face a daunting challenge and FIFA will need the strongest of leaders. Blatter will pervade the organisation for some time to come. The intense politicking of the next ten months will pass quickly, but the blood of Blatter will run through the veins of FIFA for some time yet.

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Professor Simon Chadwick's comments were originally published in The Conversation. Read his original article.