Despite suggestions that Sepp Blatter could turn around and try to remain in power, it would appear that’s off the table.
In an interview with Swiss paper Wallister Bote, Blatter spoke frankly about his decision to step down as FIFA president and called the move “liberating” for himself and the organization.
“It was the only way to take away the pressure from FIFA and my employees, including [pressure] from the sponsors,” Blatter said. “To remove FIFA and me personally from the line of fire.” He called the events in late May and the days to follow and “earthquake” within the organization.
When asked about the possibility of him pulling a 180 and returning to office, Blatter still did not use the word ‘resign’ but said, “I am not a candidate, but the elected president. And I want to hand over FIFA in good condition.”
Blatter said the extraordinary congress to hold the next election will likely begin in “early 2016” to keep from interfering with the Club World Cup to be held in mid-December.
“I am not yet having many thoughts about this, and am not worrying,” he said. “The decision to go is definitely liberating. For FIFA and for myself.”
Blatter got metaphorical when asked what he will do with his final months in office, saying he will try and go out with a bang. “I am still president of FIFA and fully capable of acting. FIFA and football have been the most important part of my life for 40 years,” Blatter said. “So I will use all my strength and inspiration up to my last working day to steer the ship back into the safe harbor.”
He then touched on a few reforms he would like to work on, which are suddenly and conveniently placed as he is preparing to leave. He mentioned an expansion of the executive committee, and reforms preventing narcissism within FIFA in an effort to keep people from simply passing positions between one another.
Wembley Stadium is set to stay in the FA’s hands.
[READ: USMNT 1-1 Peru: Player Ratings]
The FA announced in a press release Wednesday that Fulham owner Shahid Kahn had withdrawn his offer of $790 million to purchase Wembley Stadium. Kahn first became interested in buying the stadium in February 2017, when he and FA CEO Martin Glenn met at the Superbowl. What followed was an informal offer to the FA Board of Directors before a formal offer was made.
The offer has been valued at anywhere from nearly $800 million to nearly $1.2 billion. In a statement, Kahn said that his goal to purchase the stadium was to provide the FA with a large amount of capital which it could use to improve grassroots soccer around the country.
“The intent of my efforts was, and is, to do right by everyone in a manner that strengthens the English game and brings people together, not divides them,” Khan said. “Unfortunately, given where we are today, I’ve concluded that the outcome of a vote next week would be far from sufficient in expressing the broad support favored by the FA chairman to sell Wembley Stadium.”
The FA council was set to vote on the sale next week.
Although it cost the FA and British government more than $1.4 billion (adjusted for inflation) to renovate and rebuild Wembley Stadium, the arena hosted 33 events between July 2016 and June 2017 and in its latest published financial records, the FA recorded an after-tax profit of $21 million. So it seems that along with the sponsorships and broadcast deals, Wembley Stadium is a money maker, which makes it important for the FA to hold on to.
That being said, it’s hard to turn down a deal worth close to $1 billion, even if that’s a lump sum and they won’t receive further investments from stadium revenues in the future. In the future, maybe Kahn or another owner may make another offer, one that the FA council could accept.
The head of La Liga is considering taking extraordinary action to ensure that a planned match this year in the U.S. goes off as expected.
[READ: What did we learn about the USMNT?]
According to Spanish radio station Cadena Cope, La Liga president Javier Tebas is set to bring a lawsuit against the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and its chief, Luis Rubiales to compel the federation to approve Barcelona’s match against Girona on January 26, which has been scheduled to be moved to Miami, Fla.’s Hard Rock Stadium.
In a way, it makes sense that Tebas and the Spanish league is considering every possible avenue to ensure that their 15-year marketing rights agreement with Relevant Sports, including league matches played abroad, can move forward as expected. However, it was clear after the announcement in August that all parties involved – especially La Liga, had not thought this through. FIFA, the RFEF, local fans and the Spanish league’s player’s union have all opposed the news, and on Wednesday Real Madrid formally sent a letter of it’s disapproval in moving La Liga matches abroad.
Tebas and La Liga would prefer for this to be resolved legally sooner rather than later, so they can market the Barcelona match in Miami and begin negotiating with the other federations that need to approve. But there’s a decent chance that the other parties – FIFA, and U.S. Soccer – could fail to rubber stamp what would be a first-of-its-kind event. In any case, watch this space.
The U.S. Men’s National Team finished the October FIFA international slate with a somewhat demoralizing loss and an uplifting draw, if there is such a thing.
The young U.S. core continues to show flashes of great talent, but overall the team still seems to be stuttering along under caretaker manager Dave Sarachan, who just managed his 10th game and could likely finish out the calendar year as USMNT boss.
[ MORE: Premier League stats ]
Below is a look at the key takeaways from the USMNT’s October friendlies:
Arsene Wenger could be back to barking orders from the sideline once the calendar flips to 2019.
In an interview with German publication BILD, Wenger admitted that he’s received job offers all over the world and aims to return in January. Wenger hinted as well at his future, stating he was open to either international or club management.
Wenger has been without a job since parting ways with Arsenal at the end of last season, a second successive in which the club finished outside the top four.
Even with his disappointing end to life at Arsenal, it’s clear Wenger is still passionate and ready to coach again in the future. Come January, there will likely be a few Premier League openings as well as opportunities in other leagues (AC Milan? Bayern Munich? Real Madrid?). However, most of the domestic options would see Wenger take over a team likely in a relegation battle, something Wenger doesn’t really have experience with. In addition, outside of Mexico and U.S. Soccer’s ongoing coaching search, it’s unlikrly there will be a major national team opening come January.
Wenger previously said would make up his mind about his future in September, but since missing his deadline he’s continued to move the date back. Perhaps a year away will fully rejuvenate the wise manager.