Sunday, June 14, 2015

Blatter vs. Scala

So Sepp Blatter has apparently decided that he may try to hold on to the FIFA presidency, according to a report in the Swiss press.  That Blatter may be trying to hold on to power probably isn't a surprise to many FIFA watchers, and is consistent with a theory I aired here a few weeks ago.

In response to the report, Dominico Scala, the chair of FIFA's Audit and Compliance Committee issued a statement:
"For me, the reforms are the central topic," Scala said in a statement. "That is why I think it is clearly indispensable to follow through with the initiated process of leadership change as it has been announced."
It seems safe to conclude that Scala is not a supporter of the idea that Blatter might stand again in the "snap election." When asked to clarify Blatter's intentions, FIFA said in a statement:
"We refer you to the remarks from FIFA President Blatter from 2 June. FIFA has no further comment."
This sets up the spectacle of FIFA's President being in open conflict with the organization's Audit and Compliance chairman. As both men are elected in their positions, they can only be removed by a vote of the FIFA Congress (and thanks to @michellechai12 for pointing this out). So if things do get all the way to the extraordinary Congress, one possibility are referendum's on both men being put before the FIFA Congress.

It also seems clear that any meaningful FIFA reforms will not happen in the next months with Blatter in charge. That agenda will have to await leadership change.

The conflict between Blatter and Scala sets up an extended period of considerable public awkwardness for FIFA. If Blatter wants to run again and Scala does not want him to, then things could get ugly. Scala does not appear to have any formal standing to weigh in on whether Blatter runs or not. Blatter has shown in the past that he is willing to use some dirty tricks to remove an internal opponent from the scene (e.g., case of Mohammed bin Hammam). And there is continuing uncertainty about what the US federal investigators may have on Blatter. Of course, Scala may also chose to resign in protest (though he finds himself is a uniquely powerful position in the mess that is FIFA). Who knows?

There is lots to play out and lots of uncertainty. What does seem certain is that there is more FIFA drama ahead.


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