Football continues to remain as one of the most popular sports that does not rely on a lot of tech. A lot of it is down to the president Sepp Blatter. The Swiss has been a huge opposition to the introduction of technology into the game. Yet, Blatter has done a lot to take the game to new heights. FIFA is not just about the World Cup anymore, as the popularity of the U 20 international and women’s soccer has grown tremendously in the last decade. Betfair places Brazil’s U20 team as favourites to win the title, which is taking place in New Zealand, at 4/5 in the latest U 20 World Cup odds.
If there was ever the need for a villain who would just not die, Sepp Blatter may fit the role perfectly. The FIFA president has been in charge of the world football governing body since 1998. In the last few years, though, FIFA has been hit hard by a lot of corruption scandals. The latest of those scandals hit the organisation just days before Blatter was announced as the president for a fifth consecutive term. Aside from these scandals, the Swiss has also been criticised for not bringing technology into the game.
Blatter has defended his decisions by saying that the game needs to be similar at all forms. His policies have ensured that even the lower levels of the game remain largely similar to big games like the Champions League. Of course, there are vast differences in terms of aspects like the state of the pitch and the stadium infrastructure, but the game remains the same. Blatter has argued that this similarity will be spoiled when technology becomes a part since the lower levels of the game will be priced out of this feature. Yet, he fails to understand that lower levels of the game are already unable to afford some aspects that are exclusive to the top echelons.
The biggest criticism of Blatter comes in wake of the recent corruption scandals. The decisions to award Russia and Qatar the rights to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups have already come under a cloud of doubt. However, it recently emerged that a number of FIFA officials were receiving huge kickbacks in order to keep Blatter in charge of the organisation. Further, there have also been reports that South Africa paid bribes of almost $10 million in order to become the hosts of the 2010 World Cup. Since Blatter became an integral part of the World Cup host deciding committee, the competition has been staged only once in Europe – 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Billions of local currency has been spent in constructing massive stadiums in places like Brazil and South Africa. They have since been extremely difficult to run and maintain since there does not seem to be any market requirement for them. The money could have been better utilized elsewhere. FIFA has made huge money from the world spinning tour of the World Cup, but it does not seem to have benefitted the host nations much. In fact, there has been a huge uproar over the public’s tax money being used to benefit an international organisation more than anything.
The World Cup 2018 is expected to take place in Russia with the World Cup 2022 being the only possible exception. Qatar’s rights to host the competition may be removed. The bidding process for the 2026 tournament has already been postponed. Germany are the favourites to win the 2018 World Cup at odds of 5/1, while last edition’s finalists Argentina come second at odds of 8/1.
Due to the intense controversy, Blatter announced that he will step down from his role – just two days after being re-elected. The catch, though, comes in the form of a new report which suggests that Blatter may run for re-elections next summer if there is a favourable situation. Despite announcing that he will step down, the Swiss has been regularly coming to the office just like any other day in the last 10 years. Only time will tell if Blatter will be happy to relinquish to power at all.