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Better late than never

Better late than never
Highlights

The undisputed lord of the beautiful game for over 17 years will have a low-key Christmas this year. Pushed to the oblivion by a determined lobby that successfully had him thrown out of FIFA, Sepp Blatter will now have to reckon with the fact that he could no more be associated with the sport.

The undisputed lord of the beautiful game for over 17 years will have a low-key Christmas this year. Pushed to the oblivion by a determined lobby that successfully had him thrown out of FIFA, Sepp Blatter will now have to reckon with the fact that he could no more be associated with the sport.

At 79 years and not getting any younger, the eight-year ban that has been slapped on the battle-scarred veteran implies that the most controversial era in global football has come to a virtual end, a seemingly disastrous one at that, given the slew of corruption charges that have been levelled against him.

It is ditto with his side-kick and alleged comrade-in-arms Michel Platini, whose bid to take over FIFA top role two years down the line could be marginalised, notwithstanding the brave front the two are putting up.

Although it goes without saying that his adversaries and baiters have won the first round, chances of them cleansing the sport seems an improbable ordeal. As it is, FIFA today stands for the devilish side of the world’s most popular sport.

One should understand that Blatter still commands the unequivocal support of a large number of member-nations who state that Blatter cannot be singularly responsible for all the ills. There is reason in such arguments but they do not count for much. In a way, although belated, FIFA has done well in belling the cat in its own den.

There had to be someone to call the bluff and the FIFA ethics court has been man-enough to take the bull by its horns. But here is when the problems could crop up all over again. Five candidates are in the presidential election to replace Blatter at a special Congress on February 26. Irrespective of whoever wins the top job, it goes without saying that he would be under the scanner from day one.

The Blatter chapter brings to the limelight yet another important element in sports administration, and, thereby, a point that is being generally overlooked despite it being of paramount importance. It is an argument that is gaining ground in India and some countries do abide by it in letter and spirit - barring 75+ men from holding office as also restricting one’s term to two stints.

It has often been noted that like in politics even in sports, administrators who have held on to the post for years together have destroyed it to unbelievable levels after the initial years of enthusiastic turnarounds. Two classic examples are former FIFA boss João Havelange, who has been accused of receiving expensive diamonds and paintings for official favours when Amsterdam bid unsuccessfully for the 1992 Summer Olympics when he was a member of the International Olympic Committee or "Bernie" Ecclestone whose unabashed excesses have brought shame and disrepute to Formula One racing.

As things stand what is of immediate importance is to pioneer a meaningful reform programme that keeps a check on the future Blatters from abusing office with their dictatorial stranglehold.

Editor: Prof K Nageshwar
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