By Mary Cunningham
As the soccer world learned about the indictment of a boatload of his underlings, FIFA boss Sepp Blatter — yes, that’s his name — seems to have dodged a bullet.
The fate of Joseph “Sepp” Blatter became the biggest question around FIFA on Wednesday.
All morning, Blatter, the president of soccer’s world governing body since 1998, watched his organization take a public flogging: first as a few of his trusted allies were arrested at a swanky Zurich hotel, and then as details emerged of twin U.S. and Swiss investigations into an allegedly well-developed criminal ring emanating from FIFA for more than 20 years.
Yet Blatter remained “relaxed,” a FIFA spokesman said. His name didn’t appear in the U.S. indictment and he wasn’t among the 10 officials that Swiss investigators wanted to speak to. He seemed poised, in fact, to win another term as president.
“He’s just very calm, he sees what happens, he has fully cooperated with everybody,” the spokesman said.
Only later in the day did Blatter himself make a statement. “We understand the disappointment that many have expressed and I know that the events of today will impact the way in which many people view us,” he said.
Blatter, 79 years old, has survived pointed criticism throughout his 17-year tenure as soccer’s top bureaucrat. But FIFA, which he transformed from a simple organizer of the World Cup into a multibillion-dollar juggernaut, has never before been hit with such force. Where there had been questions of ethics and whispers of impropriety on Blatter’s watch, there are now allegations of racketeering and massive fraud.
Before news of the investigations broke around 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Blatter’s popularity among FIFA’s 209 members made him the overwhelming favorite to win a fifth consecutive term as president in an election still scheduled for Frida