FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced he would resign Tuesday, just four days are being voted to a fifth term at the head of soccer’s global organizing body. His resignation was greeted with enthusiastic delight by figures across the world of soccer — from former players to pundits — to whom Blatter’s name has become synonymous with sleaze and graft. Here are five reasons why so many rejoiced at Blatter’s resignation:
The charges of corruption against FIFA and Blatter are too many to count. Reports say he personally accepted a $1 million bribe as secretary general of FIFA before he even became president. Later, FIFA was accused of an illegal ticket sales plot with a hospitality partner in which Blatter’s nephew holds a stake (thanks to a decision made by Blatter in 2007). He’s been accused of bribing people for information about those who speak out against him. From 2010 to 2013 half of FIFA’s 24-person executive committee, which Blatter oversees, was accused of corruption in some capacity, and five were forced to resign. And yet none of those charges have stuck — with Blatter proclaiming himself a “scapegoat” for the media.
2. The Qatar World Cup 2022
There are allegations that FIFA executives — although not Blatter — accepted bribes to choose Qatar for the location of the 2022 World Cup, even though Qatar has a long-documented history of human rights violations and temperatures in summer can reach temperatures of 122 degrees Fahrenheit, far too hot for athletes to play soccer. Though FIFA has moved the date of this tournament to December, the working conditions to build the stadiums will still be brutal: The International Trade Union Profession predicts that more than 4,000 migrant workers will have died by the time the games are played. Blatter later admitted it had been a “mistake” to award Qatar the World Cup.
Blatter has long ignored and downplayed the serious issue of racism in soccer, despite the fact that there have been many documented incidents of players and fans chanting racist slurs and making anti-Semitic gestures. In 2011, Blatter came under fire for claiming “there is no racism” in soccer and suggesting any cultural differences between players could be “resolved with a handshake.”
Blatter’s solution to boost women’s soccer ratings? Sexier outfits. “They could, for example, have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men – such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?” he said in 2004. Blatter now thinks of himself as a “godfather” to the women’s game.
5. The Turf War
Blatter has also come under fire for this year’s women’s world cup. It’s the first FIFA tournament that will be played on turf, which the competitors say is much more dangerous. Just look at this picture of player Sydney Leroux’s legs after playing on turf (shared by basketball player Kobe Bryant on social media).
Players like Abby Wambach argue it’s an issue of gender equality: the men have never been asked to play on turf and, because their games draw more viewers, never would be.