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For Blatter the game is seemingly up; Fifa must now reform for the good of world football – Dr David Webber

Dr David WebberAt a hastily convened press conference early on Tuesday evening, Sepp Blatter announced his decision to ‘lay down his mandate’ as president of Fifa.

“His almost contrite statement stood in stark contrast to Saturday’s bullish post-election press conference where he batted away questions from the world’s media that had gathered at Zurich,” said Dr David Webber, an expert in the cultural political economy of football at the University of Warwick.

He remains cautious over Mr Blatter’s long-term intentions, and what his decision to step down means for Fifa and its proposed programme of reforms.

“Blatter’s announcement to stand down has been met with wild-eyed celebrations, particularly here in the UK. Yet this is no sudden farewell. Blatter will continue in his post while his potential successors drum up support for a run at what is likely to be a fixed-term presidency beginning in the spring of 2016. Whilst remaining in situ at least until then, Blatter will continue to shape Fifa’s reform agenda,” he added.

“There is a danger in over-celebrating Blatter’s departure, and missing a clear goalscoring opportunity to press for immediate reform. Fifa’s failings go way beyond Blatter, and football’s international governing body needs fundamental root-and-branch reform right away if it is to establish the trust and credibility lost in the wake of the corruption and scandal that has surrounded the organisation for several decades.”

Dr Webber also warned Blatter’s critics in Europe that it would be regrettable if, in its attempts to clean up the game, Fifa became as Western-centric as it was when it was first formed over 110 years ago, and dominated by football’s European superpowers.

“Football is unique in that it is a sport played, watched and enjoyed by billions of people the world over. In its reformed state, Fifa should reflect this cosmopolitanism and champion the social good that football promotes across the globe.

“For too long, football has been a game financed and corrupted by a set of global corporate interests. These companies have been happy to turn a blind eye to political authoritarianism and human rights abuses carried out in the name of Fifa, only to protest vociferously when US federal investigators closed in on Blatter and his circle of power last week.

“Fifa’s reforms cannot be left solely in the hands of those who are currently responsible for running and financing world football. The time has come to democratise world football from the grassroots up. Maintaining ‘business as usual’ and reordering voting blocs will simply consolidate power at a time when it needs to be distributed throughout the global football family. Only then can the game be truly transformed and won by the people.”

Notes to Editors:

Dr David Webber is available for interviews. We have in-house broadcasting facilities for TV and radio. We have an ISDN line for radio and a remote camera (Globelynx TV Ready Network) for television interviews.

Contact Lee Page, Communications Manager at The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255. Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221. Email: l.page@warwick.ac.uk.

Contact:

Lee Page

Communications Manager, University of Warwick

Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255

Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221

Email: l.page@warwick.ac.uk