Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 8th 2015 Contents A57
Monday, June 8, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
BERLIN---As the powerbrokers of Euro-
pean soccer celebrated their championship
weekend and some jokingly congratulated
themselves for staying out of jail, many
said that the next FIFA president needs to
do a better job of listening to the continent
that pays most of the bills.
While several FIFA executives are awaiting
extradition to the United States, European
leaders---so far untouched by the corruption
case---held closed-door meetings in rooms
that cost €2,000 ($2,222) per night as they
prepared for the Champions League final
where Barcelona defeated Juventus for the
richest prize in sports. They ate, drank and
discussed the future of global soccer.
The top leaders didn t want to speculate
openly on the election, but many leaders
feel the next president should show more
respect to the billions of Euros coming out
of this continent.
"It s undoubted that the weight of Euro-
pean football should be properly felt
throughout the world," European Club Asso-
ciation vice chairman Umberto Gandini, an
AC Milan director, told The Associated Press
at the Berlin Ritz-Carlton. "It is fundamental
for those who are risking investing their
money in professional football in Europe
have the opportunities to design the rules
and regulations. We deserve to be there (at
FIFA) because of what we represent."
The scandal so far has focused on bribes
in the Americas and Africa. But behind the
jokes and revelry, there was clearly a deep
uncertainty about who could next be
ensnared by the escalating corruption scan-
dal. The other big question was who is best
positioned to lead the world s biggest game
out of this mess, with Sepp Blatter preparing
to vacate a FIFA headquarters that has
already been raided by Swiss police.
European soccer provides the most valuable viewing
audience, the biggest clubs and the greatest players
in the world---no matter where they were born. But
FIFA gives each nation one vote, so tiny nations like
the Cayman Islands have as much influence as world
And the 79-year-old Blatter has built a coalition
of African and Asian nations, along with some tiny
island territories and big outliers like Russia---the
next World Cup host. Despite Blatter s resignation,
if another candidate grabs that same coalition, the
Europeans won t be able to change FIFA.
A constant theme from Blatter to deflect Europe s
grasp for more control has been to depict the clubs
there as leeching off the rest of the world by pilfering
the best players.
"The perception is there s a neo-colonialism in
world football," said Jerome Champagne, a Frenchman
who served under Blatter as deputy secretary general.
"European football is using African and South Amer-
ican talent but doesn t care about the leagues there
losing their talent and losing their fan base. There
is a lot of resentment from outside Europe."
Blatter proved that his collation was still strong
enough by winning a fifth term as FIFA president
on May 29, only to announce four days later that
the scandal had cost him too much support and that
he would resign after new elections held at some
point from December to March.
European chief Michel Platini, a former Blatter
confidant turned adversary, is a favorite. But he ll
need help from outside of his European power base.
The former France captain and coach is president
of UEFA, overseeing the Champions League and its
$1.1 billion prize pool. Saturday s game was the pin-
nacle of Platini s year, a gathering of elite players and
coaches, blue chip sponsors and club and federation
The 59-year-old decided not to run against Blatter,
but he led most of the continent to vote for change.
The Europeans, along with most of North America
and South America, weren t enough to break Blatter s
In public, Platini has been silent on his FIFA ambi-
tions, only beaming when a reporter addressed him
as "Mr FIFA President" and resisting the chance to
gloat about Blatter s demise.
In Berlin, Platini held court with the leaders who
can smooth his path to FIFA or prove to be rival can-
didates: including honorary FIFA Vice President
Chung Mong-joon of South Korea to Kuwaiti Sheikh
Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, who joined FIFA s exec-
utive committee last week.
Even if someone other than Platini replaces Blat-
ter, the new president will find it hard to ignore
the European clubs. It was after the prospect of
UEFA boycotting FIFA tournaments gained momen-
tum that Blatter stepped down.
UEFA doesn t like how Blatter sought to erode
the continent s influence since gaining the pres-
idency in 1998 by defeating Lennart Johansson,
the Swede who preceded Platini as European soccer
"It s a chance for Europe to regain its power,"
Johansson, 85, said of the upcoming election.
Blatter has built loyalty in less wealthy nations.
When there was crowd violence at the African Cup
of Nations in January, rather than condemning the
incident, Blatter blamed the Western media.
Champions highlight importance of Europe to FIFA
Pursuant to Section 163 of the Insurance Act1980,
the following policies were reported lost or
Avonelle N. Manswell
Jane A. George
Ann Marie Thomas-Mohammed U0087884
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