ZURICH (AP) — The FIFA election is won and done. Sepp Blatter’s problems, however, are far from over.
The prize for the 79-year-old president of soccer’s governing body is four more years in office and some big issues ahead. American and Swiss federal investigations, which rocked FIFA this week, could yet creep closer to Blatter’s door.
Blatter, who defeated Prince Ali bin al-Hussein on Friday in the FIFA presidential election, is also set for open conflict with UEFA and its president, former protege Michel Platini.
“At the end of my term I will give this FIFA to my successor in a very, very strong position, a robust position,” Blatter said in his acceptance speech.
Here are some questions and answers about Blatter and FIFA:
Q: What next for Blatter?
A: Carry on regardless, is one answer. And keep fighting UEFA.
Blatter was defiant this week in shifting blame for the American corruption case on the actions of individuals out of his control. His candidate speech to voters Friday simply offered more of the same leadership style.
“You know who you are dealing with,” he said. “What football needs right now is a strong leader, an experienced leader, a leader who knows all the ins and outs of the situation.”
Blatter offered no big ideas in his campaign — he did not even bother with a manifesto — but offered one pledge in his acceptance speech. He put Europe on notice by promising a “better representation of the confederations” on his executive committee, where UEFA has eight of 25 voting members.
Translation: Dilute UEFA’s influence after it supported Prince Ali and two other election candidates from Europe who withdrew last week.
The FIFA vs. UEFA fight resumes Saturday morning when Blatter chairs a meeting of his 27-member executive committee. It must decide how to allocate qualifying slots for the 2018 World Cup. Europe’s 13 places — not including host Russia — should be safe.
Q: When will Blatter finally answer questions about the election and the federal investigations?
A: FIFA has called a news conference for 11:30 a.m. (0930 GMT; 5:30 a.m. EDT) on Saturday after the executive committee session. It will be Blatter’s first formal meeting with international media in 15 days.
The FIFA president will want to talk about his election victory. But he will also be quizzed on the American case which left two of his vice presidents and a newly elected member of his executive committee in Zurich prison cells during Friday’s election.
They are among seven soccer officials fighting extradition to the U.S. after being arrested at a luxury downtown hotel early Wednesday.
The key question for Blatter? How and why was $10 million paid from a FIFA account as apparent bribes in the 2010 World Cup hosting contest.
The money ended up with Blatter’s longtime executive committee colleagues Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago and Chuck Blazer of the United States to vote for South Africa’s successful bid.
Q: What about the American and Swiss corruption investigations?
A: They are a rare part of the FIFA game that Blatter cannot control.
A 164-page U.S. indictment detailed racketeering, money-laundering and wire fraud charges involving 14 soccer and marketing officials. Four more, including Blazer, were named as having made guilty pleas.
The case involves widespread bribery in the award of hundreds of millions of dollars in commercial deals for tournaments in North and South America.
Blatter was not named in the indictment, nor were there many links directly to FIFA.
Still, U.S. federal authorities have promised it is just the beginning of their case. More ties to FIFA could be revealed when questioning — and plea bargaining — begins of indicted officials facing 20-year prison sentences.
FIFA itself provoked the Swiss investigation by filing a criminal complaint to the attorney general’s office about potential wrongdoing in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting contests won by Russia and Qatar, respectively.
Swiss authorities began questioning 10 FIFA voters on Thursday.
Though FIFA invited the case, they may come to regret where it leads. Any serious findings will revive pressure for a World Cup re-vote — though the sporting and legal implications would be immense.
Q: What do Blatter’s critics inside FIFA do now?
A: For Prince Ali, his spell on the Blatter-chaired FIFA executive committee is over.
He was maneuvered out of his FIFA vice presidency by Asian Football Confederation leaders, and then focused only on his FIFA presidential run.
The prince remains president of Jordan’s soccer federation, and is next due at a FIFA meeting when the annual congress is held in Mexico City next May.
Over to you, Europe.
“Enough is enough,” Platini said Thursday, after asking Blatter to resign. “People no longer want him anymore and I don’t want him anymore either.”
The rift with Blatter won’t end soon and could be widened next Friday. Platini has called his member federations to discuss their tactics in Berlin ahead of the Champions League final on June 6.
The high-stakes options are pulling out from FIFA or boycotting the 2018 World Cup.
Platini does not want that, but said all options are open for his members to discuss and decide.
Q: Where and when does the FIFA show go next?
A: First, the unfinished business on Saturday at FIFA headquarters. Blatter and some confederation presidents, like Platini, should also soon go to two FIFA tournament finals.
On June 20, FIFA protocol requires Blatter to attend the Under-20 World Cup final in Auckland, New Zealand. Then to Vancouver, Canada, for the Women’s World Cup final on July 5.
Blatter will probably take care on that trip to avoid setting foot on U.S. territory. Federal agencies would surely want to meet and speak with a visiting FIFA president.
Blatter should next meet the currently hostile European soccer family in two months for what is rather a home venue for him — St. Petersburg, Russia.
The home city of Blatter’s loyal ally, President Vladimir Putin, hosts the 2018 World Cup qualifying tournament draw on July 25.
Leaders of all 53 European members of FIFA should also be there for a showcase event that will put Blatter on center stage of world soccer.
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