Here Comes the New (old) President (Insight into Football Politics)

It’s a bit like “The weakest link”. An arrogant presenter and a few clueless candidates (in this case five or so rather ‘ugly’ people; after all, politics are Hollywood for Ugly People, aren’t they?). The camera is rolling on a new presidential election, and the most likely outcome looks likely to be: “I told you so”.

But this time, there may be a few scenarios that could rock FIFA’s painfully leaky boat: vociferous critics (of course none with an agenda) and genuine professionals with a reform-wish have joined the ranks of the FIFA-haters who form an ever-increasing cacophony that generally (and genuinely) doesn’t know where it came from (just ask them where and why), and most certainly has no clue where it is going.

The loudest critics hail from England and the USA. Oddly enough, they lost the last bids to host the World Cup. As did the Aussies, who also contribute a dose of corruption spice and then some.

Juxtapose three voices from Germany, and the goose is cooked. Or is it?

Well, hard to say, but despite the pandemonium of noisy leaderless voices heading who knows where, despite the hate talk and justified structural criticism, it seems that the “old man” will not have to move over after all. He’s pretty much in the driving seat, although that seat resembles more a catapult these days than a comfy area to glue one’s behind into.

Introducing the candidates (and let us bet a bit, although not for money like one of the candidate supporters): Harold Mayne-Nicholls is wearing number one. His chances to win the FIFA presidency are about 1000:1 in the pre-race odds. With CONMEBOL, his own region, firmly in the Blatter camp, young Harold won’t have a chance in hell of heaving himself on to the top seat (but then, who in his right mind would want to?). If he makes it past the qualification line (five associations must formally support him in writing), he will fail miserably in the contest. Our bet: he won’t run, and if he does (that would be a win in itself), he won’t get more than 8 votes.

Number two was number one in terms of media frenzy for a while: Blatter’s writer of all political speeches, a man so convinced of his own convictions, that he forgets the past and believes his own assumptions (he does have some strong ideas though). If he gets five associations to support him, he will then have to prove that he has been actively working in football for at least two of the past five years. And after that, he can enter the beauty contest for The Only Elected Man of FIFA. Our bet: he is not likely to make it to the first hurdle, and if he does – even the second – he won’t get more than two hands full of votes.

Number three appears to be the real number one contestant. Except that the Royal families of the Gulf are not in his supporting cast. They have publicly offered their support to Blatter. Not a good sign to start your campaign off with. Enter CONCACAF. It is always the Caribbean, funnily enough, that makes the king. And with the likes of Gulati, Derrick and Triesman (yes, you have read it right: the same Lord who had to step down from his English FA post for a serious breach of ethics, he is forcefully behind the Royal and doing so much more than meets the eye) in tow, there is a plan, one hears that a) seeks to weaken if not destroy the existing CONCACAF leadership and b) thrust the awkwardly backgrounded Derrick from the Caribbean football giants Antigua into the top seat (CFU president he already is, isn’t he? And how did that happen, one asks, while rubbing one’s eye and asking where his Barracuda team received its funding to participate in a US league. Weekly.).

Monsieur Platini was looking for a credible opponent to Blatter. And he found the Jordanian Royal. It could well be though, that he found the wrong Royal for the contest.

Let us assume that Prince Ali gets the five football associations he needs to support him (which?), and let us further assume that he eventually offers a plan, a programme, some sort of manifesto that Champagne points out he misses. Let us then assume that – after some dubiouser and dubiouser finaglings – the Caribbean vote were to go his way (nearly a bit by “force majeure”), then we might actually see the semblance of a contest. Like this:

The candidates need 2/3 of the votes to win outright in the first round. That would be anything between 135 to 139 votes, depending on who can vote (209 or only 205 countries?).

If Blatter gets, say, 30 of the AFC votes, 24 of the UEFA votes (Europe, once again, won’t be voting as a bloc), 10 CONMEBOL votes, 10 OFC votes and, say, 43 African votes, but only 10 CONCACAF votes, then he won’t make it in the first round because he would only own 127 votes. He will miss narrowly.

The other votes would go to Prince Ali or if Champagne pulls it off by a miracle, some small number to him, the rest to the Prince.

Not good. Not good for the incumbent whose position would have been seriously damaged: the voters, his “parliament” as he calls it, would feel confused. And that’s where the US pressure could, hypothetically, come in (the Brits chuck out a good chunk of international aid as well). “Do you want to risk losing all US aid or do you want to vote for the Prince” might well be the operative question to the majority of developing nations who are already the underdog, and will “eternify” that position, if they crumble.

Round two: it is all up in the air, then. Isn’t it?

With Blatter’s position weakened, the Anglo-Saxon collective well in place and hurling further abuse, the Prince might, just might pull it off: all he needs is a simple majority in the second round… More feasible than fighting the tiger, no matter how old he may be: he ain’t toothless this tiger.

But our prediction is in the headline already: we believe that Joseph Blatter will win the election with more than a two-third majority in the first round. We further believe that any number below 170 would be a very surprising defeat, and we believe that his support will more likely be in the 180s than less than that. We believe that he will bring the bacon home again.

Today, we only see two circumstances that would make his victory impossible. And neither is likely but nonetheless always a possibility: Blatter’s (excellent) health might play a trick on him (very unlikely), or the Anglo-Saxon powers that control this universe will have found an unexpected red card for him.

What we can exclude for sure, is an easy victory by one of his opponents (we believe that there will only be one left in the end). If the US do not take some form of extraordinary (rendition?) action, the race seems pretty much won before it ever started.

Is that good for football? You be the judge: after all, we are all judges all the time, aren’t we? It is our football ‘condition’. We know more about football than any coach or referee. We know who should play and where. We know (sometimes) “that was never an offside” and we lament about the linesman (some call him an assistant ref) being a fool.

But do we know enough about the politics of the game? And that is why Joseph Blatter will win the next election again. Because he does know.

And it is not you and I voting. It is not the public. It is not the fans.

It is the FIFA Congress (of Member Associations). And that is how the cookie crumbles.

By: Jammeh E.K. Bojang