February 23rd, 2011
02:24 PM ET

Vote for Blatter – or 'None of the Above'?

Sepp Blatter may face an unlikely opponent at this year's FIFA presidential elections. (AFP/Getty Images)
Sepp Blatter may face an unlikely opponent at this year's FIFA presidential elections. (AFP/Getty Images)

The bid by Grant Wahl to oppose Sepp Blatter in this year’s FIFA presidential election might seem like a humorous act of self-publicity by the Sports Illustrated magazine journalist, but it’s very much in keeping with the spirit of the times.

I’m not putting the battle for world football's top job on a par with the life and death struggle for democracy in the Middle East, but the tide of people power sweeping through countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya can’t help but inspire a “we can” mentality among some of us watching the drama unfold.

The FIFA election to find a leader for football's world governing body is politics not sport, and the “why them and not us?” attitude has been prevalent in the political world for years.

In my native Britain, for example, I well remember a habitual parliamentary candidate by the name of Screaming Lord Sutch, who contested a number of elections as the leader of the "Monster Raving Loony Party." Did he ever have a chance of winning anything? No! However, apart from the comic relief factor, his mere presence helped puncture the pomposity of the whole electoral process and perhaps made some people think more about the real issues by creating a ridiculous alternative.

In the United States, Ross Perot twice ran for president as an independent candidate without having any realistic chance of winning. However, his entry at least challenged the status quo and provided a choice, perhaps forcing traditional candidates to work harder at proving their policies were indeed any better than those of the red herring.

In film, the ultimate example of a maverick candidacy was in the movie "Brewster’s Millions," in which minor league baseball pitcher Monty Brewster, played by Richard Prior, used part of his inherited fortune on a mayoral campaign in New York as leader of a party he named “None of the Above.” The premise being that none of the candidates truly had the good of the people at heart, so why not vote for None of the Above?

Unfortunately for Brewster, the people took to the idea and he found himself turned from a rebel into a viable candidate - a perfect example of democracy in action. However, that was not in his plans, and, having sought to thumb his nose at the whole democratic process, he was forced to concede that it actually worked.

His solution, when faced with that ultimate irony, was to withdraw from the race, reasoning that while he was of the people and for the people, he had nothing more substantial than a few good intentions with which to lead the people.

How does that relate to Wahl’s bid to become FIFA president? Well, though I’m sure Grant would like to see himself as the people’s candidate - an everyman seeking to snatch the game back from the autocrats - I just wonder whether there can be enough substance behind his bid to see it through in the unlikely event of a victory.

Don’t get me wrong, giving the public a voice at football's top table is a laudable ambition. But, as Monty Brewster discovered, you have to be careful what you wish for.

Grant is a respected journalist. As such, I assume he’s reactive not proactive because it’s our job to break the news not make the news. However, as FIFA president you are the game’s ultimate catalyst. It’s you that makes things happen.

And while, like all of us who love soccer, Grant will have a million theories on how things could be done better, ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s the implementation that counts, with the all the determination, cunning, diplomacy, connections, business acumen, and ruthlessness that it entails.

Therefore, in the event that he does get his name on the ballot, one question above all needs to be considered - would a vote for Grant Wahl be a vote for a legitimate candidate who could take the game forward, or for None of the Above?

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Jairo

    In whichever way you see it, it is more than time that those so called "leaders" be thrown away!

    Mubarak, the Tunisian one, Kadhafy, and in the same line, Blatter, Jack Warner, those absurdly ridiculously tyrants as Argentina's Grondona, Brazil's ( humongous shame and ridiculous) Teixeira, and the most ridiculoous of all...Paraguay's and Conmebol, NIcolas Leoz...

    It is absurd that players and managers, professionals of the game, are out, and those businessmen that never played and understand the game, are heading the party and enjoying VIP life.

    Grant Wahl is a superbly intelligent and wise journalist. A real person of football
    Thanks for that note, terry@@@@!!!

    February 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Reply
  2. Lester

    First he will never get his name on the ballot. There are no lunatics in the world of international soccer that would give him legitimacy. Second the proposition that he is "everyman seeking to snatch the game back from the autocrats" is laughable, he is a representative of the corporate world out to destroy the beautiful game for the masses by making sure it allows time for commercials. The commercial issue is the only factor why soccer is kept as a tightly controlled fringe sport in the US. Case closed.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Reply
  3. abdul akeem

    this man contesting for fifa top job came from a country were journalist

    are embroil with tabloid,thus fifa hatchet men will not allow,candidate from a nation where is past,for example sex scandal,could put fifa business in bad sheets,thus he has lost before contesting,perhaps he may not get even 1 vote.
    please,find something doing than cheap popularity.

    grant not need.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  4. TonyD

    Its about time Blatter went, he should have resigned before the last world cup......... as a leader, I would compare him to Bush Jrn, he always went to the same place twice, the second was an appoligy for his first visit. not to mention the amount of inappropriate comments and lack of good decisions.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Reply
  5. Mike

    we have to get sepp blatter off the FIFA as soon as possible

    February 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Reply
  6. Munther

    Blatter must go. Awarding 2022 to Katar is a decision not unlike those made by Kaddafi.

    Besides Blatter has been around too long. Time to go Mr. Blatter........you don't own Football

    February 23, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Reply
  7. Mario

    I am not to sure where you were going with this article but I did sense that the impulse reaction (By many fans to lean in favor to Grant Wahl) is not a wise one. The other alternative would be just keep the status quo (Basically accept Blatter)... with all due respect but you sound like a batter wife who would rather stay in an abusive relationship because it is cheaper than to get a divorce.
    Your point of view (And I don't mean to come across as insolent) is very narrow-minded. Perhaps Grant is not the right person to run FIFA (I suppose you know him better than the rest of the world and you are in a better position to come up with that judgment) but there are several issues need to be address in regards on how FIFA runs the sport we all love!
    Having a goal line technology is not going to hurt the flow of the game. It will just make it: FAIR! It is not fair that the rest of the world (Remember the number of TV viewers is quite high) gets a second look at the potential goal just to be annulled by one "Professional" referee because he saw something different. Also a referee doesn't have to give anyone an explanation for any critical calls?? (I understand emotions run deep and FIFA need to protect them); however, there are also millions of people who's hope get shattered and deserved an explanation not the snub of a whole organization. I could go on but I don't have the whole year. There is a valid point on Mr Walh's decision to challenge the "Status quo".. Maybe that way Mr. Blatter will start listening to the fans and not just the lobbyist that can provide better funds to his Swiss account

    February 23, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  8. Prakash Moktan

    At times Sepp's leadership remains questionable in football world. The most popular sports needs fresh input-us and new direction to enhance its current stagnation. New tournament and more competition will bring in extra revenue and freshness to this hugely popular world..... Pramok

    February 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Reply
  9. alehandro

    I think Grant Wahl's bid for the presidency will fail, but that's not the point. By putting himself forward as a candidate I hope he's shown the way forward for other more traditional football officials who are better placed to oppose Blatter, because Blatter does need opposing.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Reply
  10. jorgen friis

    For sure a change in leadership is long, long overdue. Blatter has overstayed his welcome and if he has any decency left should step down to make room for a new leader with new ideas. In short we need fresh blood and new directions and not more of the same old Blatter-style regime that leads to nowhere except controversy. Is Grant Wahl that person who can successfully challenge the status quo and lead us into
    a "new world" ? Doubtful.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:34 am | Reply
  11. Rabbie

    Blatter must go! How did this guy come to be in this place anyway?/

    February 24, 2011 at 2:06 am | Reply
  12. STEFAN GENCHEV BAEV

    NICE, A CLEVER ARTICLE. ACCORDING TO ME WITH ALL THE ALLEGEATIONS OF MATCHES BEING MANIPULATED BY THE ASSIAN, OR CROATION OR OTHERS MAFIAS, MOBSTERS SOMETHING BY ALL MEANS SHOULD/MUST BE DONE AT THE VERY TOP LEVEL.
    BUT WITH SUCH INCREDIBLY HUGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY INVOLVED, IN THE GAME, I DO NOT THINK IT WILL EVER HAPPEN.
    MR. BLATTER, BEING THE KINGMAKER IN APPOINTING THE BOSSES IN ALL THE WORLD COUNTRIES, WILL REIGN FOR EVER. WE SHALL KEEP ON LISTENING TO NEWS OF RIGGED MATCHES.
    IT IS THE SAME STORY IN BULGARIA, WITH THE RUSSIAN MEGA ENERGY PROJECTS, ONCE VL.PUTIN/KGB HAS MADE A DECISION,
    DO NOT DARE TO OPPOSE IT, IF YOU DO, FATAL ACCIDENTS WILL FOLLOW, FOR SURE.

    February 24, 2011 at 7:54 am | Reply
  13. Maureen

    As you pointed out yourself Mr. Terry, football and FIFA are not on par with the life and death struggles we are witnessing in the middle east as men and women fight to change the status quo. For precisely that reason, I will gladly accept whatever outcome would result if Grant Wahl were to be successful in affecting the FIFA presidential elections. There is only certainty here and it is that FIFA is corrupt and ruining the game.

    February 24, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Reply
  14. RobD

    Lester, that's an idiotic ending to your comment. Americans who like soccer fully appreciate the reasoniang for why it has no commercials. Your statement has no other basis in fact. Are you trying to say that since Grant is American, he must therefore be pro-corporate? You clearly have no idea what you're talking about. If I – an American – were to take over FIFA, I would be sure to retain the no-stoppage-for-TV policy that currently rules, as would many other Americans who love the sport, as Grant does (yes I read the article).

    Blatter is a problem. His claim to wish to abolish racism in sport clashes entirely with his decision to hold the World Cup in Russia in 2018; his claim to wish for Fair Play clashes entirely with his love for choosing match referees in the World Cup who are woefully inadequate to the task, to say nothing of his World Cup election process. FIFA is loaded with corruption, and he's just one of many figures who need to be replaced.

    February 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  15. Stoichio

    If it were up to most football fans Blatter would have been gone a long time ago. Have you ever actually heard anyone say, "That Blatter, doing a sterling job, bloody marvellous he is". As far as i'm concerned they could elect the re-animated corpse of Atilla the Hun and it would be a marked improvement.

    February 26, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Reply
  16. fonka mutta

    Sports had become politics a long time ago. Hurting innocent souls (fans) who fuel the game week in week out with their passion for the game.
    I am a Cameroonian, as far as I can remember we've had one federation president. As far as I can remember Africa has had the same confederation president. Terry these are not the only pro-active guys on the planet, are they?
    They are being upheld by the same criminal organisations and interest groups backing those you consider "catalysts". Blatter is out of ideas, and nothing says Wahl can't do the job.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:24 am | Reply
  17. Sam

    The old dog has no tricks time to leave but why are they all so scared to chalenge him..

    March 1, 2011 at 6:48 am | Reply
  18. tuffymacca

    How dare that little known Sports IIIustrated journalist Grant Wahl challenge DR Joseph Sepp Blatter 4 the FIFA Presidency.This Wahl guy has joined the chorus of the Western world criticism of Blatter.The majority of the 208 Fifa family will never take this typical arrogant American seriously hence they will never vote 4 him instead they will ensure that Dr Blatter receives a landslide victory at the polls.The Fifa family will never vote 4 a native of a country that continues to treat Football disdainfully.The arrogant Americans want to highjack the world`s favourite sport because of its influence & prestige .By virtue of becoming Fifa President one becomes the most poerfulman in the sporting world & the Americans wld love to occupy such as a powerful ,influential position that touches every corner of the world because of the sport`s popularity.Football is a such a powerful vehicle that can influence /change the world .Im not referring to the pigskin NFL football but proper football run by FIFA that consists of 208 members that affect 4billion everyday on earth..I salute Dr Blatter & FIFA 4 taking Football to new frontiers Russia 2018 & Qatar 2022.Fifa has continuosly rebuked the powerful influence of the western world that only want to enjoy the Fifa cake among itself.I also applaud Fifa 4 taking the world cup to SA in 2010 much to the chargrain of the powerful Confederations..Bravo to Sepp Blatter `s goal projects that have transformed millions of lives in Africa,the Carribean ,Eastern Europe & South America.One wonders why CAF members didnt vote 4 Danny Jordaan on the FIFA EXCUTIVE instead voted 4 a little known Ivorian who is bound to be corrupt.Jordaan deserved to be voted onto FIFA EXECUTIVE because of the sterling work he put in at SA2010.There is much influence welded by Norh & West Africa at the Cairo based CAF.There is so much corruption & injustice in African football hence the need to get rid rid of the corrupt ,docile ISSA HAYATOU who has been at the helm of CAF since 1988.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  19. roy mullings

    Football could take a lesson from Rugby Union,the Ref has total control players accept his decisions right or wrong,back chat an the offending team is punished.There is a feeling that the ruling body is corrupt,and that not going to change anytime soon,money talks.
    Mr Blatter said he would like to abolish racism from football ,why are going to Russia?

    March 7, 2011 at 11:17 am | Reply
  20. kasonde

    blatter needs to go, I hope other fifa members dont support platini cuz his worse than blater, platini does not even want video technology in the game blatter at least has said he will consider. As for Bin Hammam he bribed many players and federations for the Qater world cup. he is probably the same as blater.

    Grant wahl is the best choice , his proposals of video replays is needed in football, we need more representation from women. for Football to grow Fifa has to consider bring more women into the fold. Also his proposal of goal technology and not giving yellow cards for players removing their shirts is good. ,here more important and worse things than players removing shirts.

    I hope Grant Wahl wins

    March 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Reply

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