Three Leading Characters in the FIFA Drama: Blatter, Blazer, and Warner

Sepp Blatter’s resignation a mere four days after reelection remains something of a mystery. Blatter took a defiant tone during the FIFA Congress in which he soundly defeated his only electoral opponent, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein. In the short term, it appeared to be business as usual, as delegates to the FIFA Congress – apparently unmoved by the indictment of nine former and current FIFA officials – provided Blatter a resounding victory in the FIFA presidential election. A mere four days later, Blatter announced plans to resign at a hastily called press conference. The day before his resignation, the New York Times linked Blatter’s chief deputy Jérôme Valcke to a $10 million bribe transferred from FIFA funds to Jack Warner. Blatter lamented at the press conference, “While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football – the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at FIFA.” Clubs, players, fans, and the media had criticized Blatter long before the indictment, so this was certainly not an important concern to Blatter. In the immediate aftermath of this resignation announcement, ABC News reported that Blatter is a target of the FBI probe. Others had speculated that the imminent release of Chuck Blazer’s testimony from his plea hearing was sufficiently damaging to Blatter that he preemptively resigned. While Blazer’s testimony outlines serious corruption allegations, it does not seem to implicate Blatter directly.

Disgraced former FIFA official Jack Warner purports to know why Blatter resigned. In an 8-minute paid political advertisement (Warner is an MP and founder of the Independent Liberal Party) entitled, “The Gloves Are Off,” Warner claims to have a trove of documents that pertain to “transactions at FIFA, including – but not limited to – its president, Mr. Sepp Blatter.” He warns, “Not even death will stop the avalanche that is coming.” Of course, this isn’t the first time Warner has used a natural-disaster metaphor. In 2011, he promised a “football tsunami” that apparently never reached land. Warner is perhaps the most absurd character in a cast of ridiculous characters in this FIFA drama. (Blazer is a close second. His blog is named, “Travels with Chuck Blazer and His Friends,” based on the suggestion of Vladimir Putin. The blog features pictures of Blazer posing in various costumes as well as with notable figures such as Nelson Mandela, Putin, Bill Clinton, and Prince William. He also reportedly rented a $6,000 per month apartment in Trump Tower solely for the use of his cats.) Corruption is so endemic to FIFA that it is difficult to contrive allegations of fraud related to FIFA that are not credible. Amazingly, Warner managed to pull off such a feat in claiming that FIFA interfered with the 2010 national elections in Trinidad & Tobago. Why FIFA would have any interest in electoral outcomes in Trinidad & Tobago is entirely unclear. In another video statement released only days earlier, Warner proudly held up and cited an Onion article as evidence that the federal investigation “stemmed from the failed U.S. bid to host the World Cup.”