As we edge closer to the FIFA Word Congress on May 29, when the organization’s presidential election will take place, it has become more evident that current
emperor president Sepp Blatter’s reign is becoming less secure. Recent news suggests that Blatter can no longer assume the support of his allies in North and South America, as the presidents of both CONMEBOL and CONCACAF have recently declined to publicly stand by the once and future king.
One of the biggest threats to Blatter’s reign is Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan. The young royal has been running on a campaign of hope, progress and “the people” – the sorts of ideals that earn votes when your opposition is seen as a money-grubbing, misogyny-rationalizing, racism-ignoring, rule-manipulating, robber baron gangster. He’s a great dancer, though.
Today, new quotes from CONCACAF president Jeff Webb hint the confederation will not be as eager to fall in line with the Blatter monarchy as it was under former president Jack Warner.
“I don’t think that CONCACAF is going to come out [for one candidate or another]. CONCACAF doesn’t have a vote. It’s the members that have a vote. Each individual country has an opportunity to vote for who their membership support.”
“We will discuss it and give them an informed view as far as how we see the landscape in terms of what is in the best interests of the game and what is in the best interests of CONCACAF.”
“We have countries that nominated President Blatter, we have countries that nominated Prince Ali. Competition is good.”
Webb’s comments mimic those of Juan Angel Napout (Paraguay), the president of CONMEBOL, who last week announced that he would not advise his South American delegation on how to vote until May, just before the FIFA World Congress. The confederation had routinely voted as a block in favor of Blatter under past leadership.
Is Webb, a possible candidate in FIFA’s 2019 presidential election, plotting a power move to weaken Blatter to aid in his rise to the top? Is the idea of swinging support to Prince Al Hussein just a smoke screen to conceal a back room alliance Webb’s formed with Napout? Copa America Centenario tournaments hosted in the United States don’t happen by accident. The drama! The intrigue!
If Blatter wants to keep his 27-year stranglehold on the governance of the world’s game tight, he needs to learn from a master. He needs to study the ways and works of a legendary power broker and strategist. He needs to learn how to not just lead but thrive under the threat of all he’s built being brought down. He needs to watch Empire, the best drama on television since The Sopranos.
On the show, Lucious Lyon, the patriarch of the family-operated mega label Empire Records, is dealing with a similar threat. Desperate to preserve his legacy, Lyon is making aggressive moves to solidify his company for generations so he can pass it on to his sons. He’s torn between wanting to school them in the ways that made him the biggest force the industry (drug dealing, extortion, murder) and an inability to believe any of them can run his Empire. Add to that he’s dying of ALS, his fresh out of prison ex-wife may be trying to ruin him, his sons are plotting behind his back and his fiancé is now conspiring with a rival label owner who has tried to kill him, and Lyon’s life doesn’t play out much that differently than Blatter’s.
How does Lucious handle his business? With unchecked aggression. He has a name to protect and immortality to attain. A friend once tried to extort him, so he shot him in the face. Quick and decisive. If Blatter watches, listens and implements the sound strategies of this great leader, he too will be able to gather his FIFA family for a special rendition of “You’re So Beautiful.”