He was re-elected to a 5th term in office on Friday just 2 days after the latest FIFA crisis began… today marks a historical moment for us.
“I have been reflecting deeply about my presidency and about the forty years in which my life has been inextricably bound to FIFA and the great sport of football. I cherish FIFA more than anything and I want to do only what is best for FIFA and for football. I felt compelled to stand for re-election, as I believed that this was the best thing for the organisation. That election is over but FIFA’s challenges are not. FIFA needs a profound overhaul.” — Sepp Blatter, FIFA president Sepp Blatter, resignation statement… For full statement, click here.
Did you think you would be around to see this moment? I didn’t. Because corruption exists around the world and goes unabashedly pushing countless boundaries of humanity without ever being brought to light. Personally, I’ve been resigned to not writing about FIFA because well, FIFA itself has been at the heart of at least 10 sports for social change programs I’ve witnessed and worked with around the world, doing an amazing job of empowering the invisible. I’ve seen time and time again, the good, go unnoticed, uncovered by the mass media. And then, to witness a media firestorm around corruption was disheartening. Maybe you know this about me, maybe you don’t. But for the past 6 years (time flies) I’ve traveled the world to volunteer with soccer outreach programs because to me, that’s the real soccer. Grassroots, shoeless, dirt fields, beaches, sidewalks, parking lots, makeshift soccer balls but… happy children and communities growing the sport in their ‘backyard.’ Often faced with brutality and levels of poverty most of us have never thought imaginable, ‘professional’ football/soccer is a far cry from these kids. I love these people more than words can express.
So, back to FIFA, there are programs FIFA help that aren’t faux diaspora legacy programs. Most are likely real changemakers. I have faith in the ability for it to be reformed, for the good to overcome the corrupt. Over the next week, month, year (however long it takes to get the money trail tracked fully) there will be a lot of black soot covering the world of soccer, but I urge you to take a look at the good, those children you see playing footie in the street or in a local schoolyard, and remember to give them as much time and effort as you do talking about ending corruption or winning a World Cup bid. Realize that the impact that soccer has in empowering people is far greater.
I hope I’m not the only one to wish FIFA luck in their rebuilding and restructuring. The process begins with an Extraordinary (aka – emergency) Congress to hold a new election – it will be overseen by Domenico Scala, Independent Chairman of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee.
FIFA’s capacity for amplifying positive change through football is immense. It’s up to us to help however we can.
I concur with Sepp on this one: “What matters to me more than anything is that when all of this is over, football is the winner.”
— LBC (@LBC) June 2, 2015