Paul Kelso has speculated in London’s Telegraph that there are “increasing signs that the president will struggle to see out his full term to 2015, and could be forced out by the end of the year” in a coup d’etat orchestrated by the man who’s been waiting in the wings for a seeming eternity: UEFA president Michel Platini.
“Platini owes his position to Blatter’s support, but is perhaps the only figure with the stature to move to unseat his mentor,” Kelso writes.
Certainly further revelations regarding the ISL bribes affair will damage Blatter. But how many times have we been here before?
His opponent for the presidency in 1998, Lennart Johansson, has no proof of direct involvement in vote buying even though Blatter accepts it went on. The Qatar 2022 outrage didn’t secure his demise. His opponent in 2011, Mohamed Bin Hammam, couldn’t lay a hand on him and ruined his own career in the process. The racism gaffe of November has blown over if not been forgotten. And Jack Warner’s promised “tsunami” was more like the drenching from a garden hose.
The man is both indestructible and a narcissist: a combination that has kept him in power for 14 years. He isn’t about to fall on his sword or allow a cabal of conspirators to bring an end to his hard-earned kingdom. If he goes early, it will be on his own terms. He hasn’t come this far, with Machiavellian upward mobility, for everything to fall apart in disgrace.
And the most salient point: Why would Platini, a mini Blatter to his shoelaces, want the job now anyway?
Blatter tweeted at the Ballon d’Or that he’d met with Ronaldo and that preparations for Brazil 2014, severely short of where they need to be, were “moving in the right direction”.
Phew. What possible problems can there be when a discredited old fogey and a dimwit who ended up in a Rio motel room with three transvestite hookers are on the case?
All will be well with the world’s most important sporting event. We wouldn’t want it entrusted to anyone less capable.
Platini may be ambitious but surely he isn’t that dumb to move to supplant Blatter when there’s more drama and heartache to come.
Letting the inevitable purge of the executive committee take its course and having Brazil 2014 happen on Blatter’s watch will allow Platini to start in 2015 with a mandate to wipe the slate clean and begin anew rather than fix at this late stage what really can’t be fixed. That way, he’s cleaning up someone else’s mess, not being held to account for creating his own.
Blatter might be a master political operator, but Platini has served his apprenticeship well.
This column was originally published by ESPN STAR Sports. Please check for new columns by me every Thursday at www.espnstar.com. Love to see you there.