At the end of one of the most difficult periods of his administration comes a reminder of one of the reasons why Sepp Blatter has for so long proved so difficult to dislodge from his post as FIFA President.
FIFA Member Associations should have received around the end of last week a circular from Zurich informing them that application forms for the 2015 Financial Assistance Programme (FAP) would not be sent out to them until December 19. This provides a pretext for reminding them about the additional bonus – first announced by Blatter at the FIFA Congress in Brazil in June – that will soon be heading the way of national associations.
“For reasons of ease of administration and consistency,” the circular, signed by FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke, reads, “the form to apply for the FAP in 2015 – $250,000 per member association – will be adjusted and take into account the additional bonus granted to all FIFA member associations in connection with the final financial results of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil…
“The amount of this additional bonus will be decided on 19 December 2014 by the FIFA Executive Committee.
“The necessary documents and instructions on how to apply for FAP payments in 2015 and for the additional bonus will be sent to you immediately following this decision.”
As another communication to FIFA Members made clear in June, FIFA anticipates that this additional bonus, “intended for the development of football at national level”, will amount to $500,000 per member association.
So, as things stand, member associations from Albania to Zambia can expect, if they complete the paperwork satisfactorily, to receive financial assistance of $750,000 in the months before they assemble next May to elect a FIFA President for the 2015-19 period.
Is it any wonder if they feel the teensiest bit grateful to the man who made it all possible? And the poorer the member association, the more grateful you might expect them to feel.
This is the sort of thing that anyone who runs against Blatter will be up against. And while there is no reason on earth why the structures that permit such development payments should not remain in place under a new President – no reason, indeed, why the payments shouldn’t get bigger, given the comparatively modest 12.5% increase in spending on development projects budgeted for 2015-18 – Blatter seems still to benefit from an enormous stock of political capital for the role he played in building them.