Sepp Blatter is a political animal. His FIFA career has been an orchestration of lining up votes, doling out favours to powerful associates who help him to keep power. The ISL scandal shows the extent of corruption in the FIFA higher echelons. In Blatter's tenure as FIFA president, there has been no appetite for real reform.
In fact, FIFA is now a version of the IMF, an autocratic authority whose primary preoccupation appears to be imposing arbitrary disciplinary measures against the soccer have nots, while largely ignoring the problems that face European and South American countries where soccer hooliganism and corruption continue to run rampant. FIFA's hypocrisy is clearly seen in banning Kenya from international soccer while turning a blind eye to the match fixing crisis that confronted Italian soccer in the summer, racism in the German lower leagues, and hooligan violence in the Argentine league.
Surely, Kenya's running of two parallel league is their internal problem. The Kenyan government stepping in to resolve their differences was a good faith gesture and not a case of interference, as FIFA claims. In many countries, politics and sports are so intertwined it is hard to separate out the two. Be that as it may, is this enough reason to punish a country by banning them from soccer? Iran and Greece were similarly suspended.
Blatter's presidency is up for renewal this fall. His fairweather approach to reforms should be enough reason to convince anyone that he is undeserving of re-election. In fact, there is speculation that his public proclamations of support for South Africa hosting the World Cup is a front for securing the African vote. Once he is re-elected he will throw SA under the bus if it does not show enough progress, and award the World Cup to Australia. Cynical speculations you might add but Blatter has made a career out of being self serving. The suspension of Kenya exposes the real Blatter.
Freedom for football writes in about FIFA's intrusive policies:
A less prominent but equally chilling case is playing out in the US now over FIFA's power play to take control of futsal globally. The US futsal organization has existed for decades independently and owns the trademark to futsal in the US. FIFA has threatened to sanction USSF unless it brings US Futsal to heel, but FIFA and USSF haven't got a leg to stand on in terms of US (or Kenyan) law
I might add that Blatter was not being disingenuous when he expressed his concern at the number of foreign owners in the Premiership in clubs.
"We need to be careful football doesn't end up in the hands of people who want football to serve them, instead of them serving football," said Blatter. "It is a very delicate matter and we need the help of the judicial authorities."
Et tu, Blatter?
Update: Andrew Jennings points out that Sepp Blatter is up for re-electionin May 2007. Thanks Andrew.