Sepp Blatter went quietly. The head of FIFA withdrew with his chin up, saying he felt he didn’t have the football world’s unanimous support. He put it mildly.
That followed last week’s thunderclap over the international governing body of association football, as on Wednesday, 27th May, seven of FIFA’s top officials were whisked away by the Swiss police at dawn.
They were taken from their five-star hotel in Zurich, wanted by American authorities investigating corruption suspicions in the federation going back more than 20 years.
In a pincer movement on the same day, the FBI swooped against FIFA’s North, South and Central American confederation affiliate CONCACAF, in Miami. Of the 14 people arrested there, nine are FIFA officials.
That includes former FIFA vice-president and former CONCACAF president Jack Warner, and that body’s vice-president Jeffrey Webb, who is on the FIFA Executive Committee, and Eduardo Li, Eugenio Figueredo, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Rafael Esquivel, José Maria Marin and Nicolás Leoz.
Seven of the detainees in Switzerland refuse to be extradited to the US, and so that procedure could drag out for months.
The 47 charges against them bear on alleged bribes exchanged over around 25 years, and said to amount to 150 million dollars, in connection with television broadcast rights and tournament marketing.
Also under investigation are the conditions of the attribution of the World Cup to host South Africa in 2010, Russia for 2018 and Qatar for 2022.
More thunder was in store as FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke was revealed to have participated in moving along a $10 million bribe from South African officials to FIFA Executive Committee members.
Blatter stood for and won re-election as FIFA President, for a fifth term.
On that day, May 29th, he said: “Why would I step down? That would mean I recognise I did wrong.”
Then he resigned, four days later.