Sport Comment: He’s gone, but major questions linger for world governing body

 
Frank Dalleres
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WIDELY welcomed – and, due to its suddenness and haste, slightly surreal – though it was, Sepp Blatter’s resignation as president yesterday should not be seen as a panacea for Fifa’s many ills.

While Blatter is on the way out after some 17 years controlling the multi-billion pound organisation, he could remain in charge until March 2016, as Fifa begins another glacial election campaign.

There is also the question of whether there is appetite for further change within Fifa – after all, some 133 of 209 national football associations voted to give the Swiss 79-year-old another term. That was just last week, after American investigators indicted seven current Fifa officials.

Then there is the matter of who replaces Blatter. Michel Platini, an early favourite, has been criticised by some for supporting Qatar’s bid to stage the 2022 World Cup. Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, another frontrunner, has shown limited signs of being the revolutionary Fifa may need to effect cultural change.

Blatter’s departure also reopens debate about the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes.

Time may be against those who believe that Russia should not host the 2018 tournament, but it feels as though Qatar’s right to stage the event four years later could come in for renewed scrutiny.

The episode seems, then – to paraphrase Churchill – like neither the end nor even the beginning of the end, but perhaps the end of the beginning of overdue reform.

WHO’S NEXT? SEPP’S POTENTIAL SUCCESSORS

Michel Platini
Europe’s top football official declined to oppose Blatter this time, seemingly aware he faced an impossible task, but may revive ambitions now the Fifa president has quit

Prince Ali
Proved a credible candidate, winning 73 votes to Blatter’s 133. The Jordanian intends to stand again but would lose some European support if Platini rivalled him

Luis Figo
Former Portugal star won support with pledge to rid Fifa of corruption. Dropped out of the election running as Europe rallied behind a single candidate in Prince Ali

David Gill
Manchester United’s former chief exec is on Fifa’s executive committee, having reneged on a pledge to quit after Blatter’s exit, but England remain unpopular with peers