In Fifa’s case—and that of global football—it is “better late than never” that its president, Sepp Blatter, and his henchman at the UEFA, Michel Platini, both have been effectively given the boot. The Fifa ethics committee found both guilty of “abusive execution” of their poistions, and Platini of receiving $2 million “disloyal payment” in 2011. The panel has ordered their suspension for eight years. It has taken a very dim view of the two men’s conduct, saying Blatter’s actions did not show “commitment to an ethical attitude” and that Platini failed to act with “complete credibility and integrity”. Whatever the terms the Fifa panel has chosen to censure, even as it cloaks, the rampant corruption the duo had engaged in, at least, the cleaning of the Augean stables of the governing body of world football has begun.
What does this mean for Blatter and Platini? Blatter had indicated that he will not run for Fifa presidency in February next year, when elections are due. So, there is not much he will rue, except for perhaps the loss of credibility and privileges as a Fifa official. The order, however, puts paid to any ambitions Platini may have had of Fifa presidency. That Blatter, Fifa’s Methuselah, has been dethroned—though he has threatened that he will “be back”—should serve as encouragement for other sports governing bodies, global and national, to clean up their act. At the same time, for true reform, sports governing bodies need to set rules that facilitate transparency in financial matters. Club and league rules in football, for instance, allow for a lot of financial flows, including those for transfer of players, to remain opaque. Until such rules are amended, it would keep being a matter of firing one rogue to institute another.