For FIFA President Sepp Blatter 2015 cannot come soon enough as the heat builds up on him holding onto his title as head of the world game.
First up came the resignation of the man employed to investigate the corruption within FIFA. Michael Garcia stepping aside as Blatter refused to make the findings of the report public and then allegedly misrepresented his findings.
Hot on the heels of this blow came the news that the Swiss government – where FIFA has its headquarters – passed a law demanding closer scrutiny of governing bodies who use the country as a tax sanctuary, namely FIFA and the IOC. There are further acts due to come before the Swiss parliament that will make corrupt acts in sports-linked Swiss-based organisations a criminal offence.
In addition to this came word that a third candidate may well run against Mr Blatter in the FIFA Presidency election in 2015. The whisper being that Prince Ali of Jordan, who is the fourth son of the late King Hussein of Jordan and brother to King Abdullah may be convinced to run in the election. He is currently the head of the Jordanian Football Association and founder of the West Asia Football Federation. Many believe he is the ideal figure to clean up the constantly discredited governing body. If he does run he is expected to garner votes from Asia, the USA and the Caribbean.
If all this was not bad enough for the thick-skinned Mr Blatter the expected has happened, officially. Just like South Africa four years before Brazil has been left with expensive stadia that have no use.
Statistics released by the Polha de S. Paulo and Lance! newspapers show that the average attendance at Brazil’s 12 World Cup venues is 18,300, up from 16,562, but hard to justify an investment of USD3.7 billion. According to Reuters only three of the new venues are consistently more than half full, namely Belo Horizonte, Sao Paolo and Manaus. In other areas where there is not a strong football tradition crowds have been as low as 354 and at grounds in Recife, Salvador and Natal, they are regularly hosting less than 10,000 at games.
As a result, in Brazil as it was in South Africa the belief is that building such lavish and grand arenas is partly an excuse for corrupt politicians to favour friends and associates with extremely lucrative contracts.
With Russia having ‘invested’ USD32billion into the Winter Olympics at Sochi, it is believed that more white elephants will be appearing on the horizons of Russia, although with the value in the rouble falling dramatically, that could well change.
One thing that has to change in 2015 is the leadership of football. It is time for Blatter to leave and the game to try and claw back some dignity.