The future of Fifa seems to be uncertain today, after several Fifa officials were arrested on charges of alleged bribery and corruption. A rapidly arranged press conference in Zurich confirmed that there were no current plans to postpone tomorrow's congress and presidential election. A separate criminal investigation by Swiss authorities into the allocation of the next two World Cups has also been initiated, as the world of #Football was thrown into potential disarray.
Fifa president battle
Friday's election had been expected to confirm Blatter's fifth term in office, despite many favouring his opponent, Prince Ali of Jordan. Michael van Praag and Luis Figo had decided not to pursue their opposition of Blatter's re-appointment. Van Praag made it clear that he was adding his support to Prince Ali's efforts. Figo suggested that Fifa was a "dictatorship" and that he was not prepared to run for president while that remained the case, something that Blatter has strenuously denied in the aftermath.
Given the events over the last 24 hours, it is interesting that Prince Ali's manifesto highlighted the need for a more open and transparent organisation.
Rapidly arranged press conference
The press conference was headed by a Fifa spokesman with the current president not in evidence. Presumably that was an attempt to distance him from the ongoing investigations, with the spokesman indicating that the imminent election and the arrests were in no way linked. As the head of Fifa it was extremely odd to attempt to separate Mr Blatter completely from what was going on though, something that would be unheard of in the normal world of business. Generally the head of an organisation would be expected to comment on any investigations into wrongdoings by parties involved in that organisation. The spokesman seemed to abdicate all responsibility from the president.
Fifa suggested that they had initiated the investigations many months ago, yet it is believed that it may have been several years since such investigations began.
The fall-out from the investigations will be intriguing:
Can the elections continue when Fifa officials have been arrested, including the vice-president Jeffrey Webb? This is no small matter with the FBI now being involved and millions of dollars involved in terms of the bribes that were alleged to have occurred.
Is Blatter's position safe or should he step down should the charges prove to have credence?
What about the upcoming World Cups? Will the 2018 and 2022 events need a re-vote, such that Russia and Qatar may lose their host status? If so, England could come back into the reckoning for 2018, given that they have the stadia and infrastructure already in place. America could host 2022's version.
Fifa's spokesman suggested that the organisation welcomed the investigations, given that they had set the 'ball rolling' themselves. Given their unease and defensive undertones at the press conference, it was evident that they were ill-prepared for the speed with which events transpired. As all the parties involved were in the one place at the same time, surely some contact could have been envisaged? They acknowledged as much to the press earlier today, although there was some insinuation that the timing was 'perfect' given that the press were already assembled for the conference itself.
It remains to be seen what will transpire over the next twenty-four hours, whether the election will indeed go ahead and whether further arrests will be made. #Police