July 20 is shaping up to be a big day in the soccer calendar, and not just because it’s the 34th birthday of Crystal Palace and Ireland defender Damien Delaney.
It’s the day when FIFA will hold their Extraordinary Congress, starting at 10 a.m. Zurich time.
Save the date. Save soccer.
On the agenda: “reform of FIFA’s organizational structure” and “election of the FIFA president”. Oh, and “Any other business”. No meeting can be considered complete unless someone asks if there’s any other business.
In other words, FIFA’s executive committee (or what’s left of it) will meet to set the date for the presidential election made necessary by Sepp Blatter’s decision to quit. Specifically, his decision to quit three days after winning the last election. The new vote will take place between December and February, according to a FIFA statement.
So that’s giving us at least six months more of Sepp, unless the authorities investigating FIFA have something interesting up their sleeves. It’s going to be a long, emotional farewell tour for the father of the football family.
Which is what he seems to want. On Thursday, he dismissed a demand from the European Parliament for him to go immediately.
There’s always the risk that Blatter spends the rest of the year regretting his decision to quit and dramatically reverses it by deciding to stand again, just before Christmas, because it’s his destiny to bring peace and prosperity to the world through soccer.
Incidentally, it was July 20, 1885 when the English Football Association legalized professionalism, prompting a gradual increase of money into the sport, ultimately causing all this mess 130 years later. Thanks, Anglo-Saxons!