Sports

Winners and losers in FIFA corruption scandal

It's a great opportunity for transparency and reform, but is FIFA up to it?

After FIFA President Sepp Blatter's surprise announcement Tuesday that he would resign after new elections to find his successor, we take a quick look at its impact on the soccer world.

Winners

Soccer: International soccer has been trying to escape a cloud of doubt caused by game-fixing, run largely by international crime syndicates, and corruption, managed at least in part by officials of FIFA, according to last week's federal indictments. But if the resignation of Blatter helps reform FIFA and makes the organization harder to compromise through bribes, that could make it easier for soccer officials and law enforcement to take on the illegal betting operations. Now if they could only do something about diving.

The U.S.: The Justice Department brought the indictments that led to Blatter's downfall, challenging the perception that FIFA was too big and powerful to topple. So far there's been no evidence to suggest U.S. Soccer had any role in the bribery scandal that ousted CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, even though many of his alleged crimes occurred on U.S. soil.

FIFA: Soccer's global governing body has become a cash cow, raking in $5.7 billion in revenue over the last four years. And it did that while battling persistent claims it was corrupt. Now if FIFA embraces its new-found opportunity for reform, becomes transparent and truly changes course, it could become even more valuable.

Losers

Sepp Blatter: With the FBI and Justice Department cross-hairs focused squarely on him, FIFA's once-defiant president apparently felt he had no choice but to step down. Given the hasty retreat, it will be interesting to see if charges emerge.

Qatar: If strong evidence surfaces that Qatar did not fairly win the right to host the 2022 World Cup, FIFA could well decide to hold a second vote in an attempt to cleanse itself of corruption. Given the black eye Qatar's World Cup bid has already given soccer, it would stand little chance of winning that revote.

The U.S.: Yes, the United States gained a lot in terms of clout and prestige by bringing down Blatter and the FIFA establishment. But it also lost too. Russian President Vladimir Putin's attack on the indictments as another example of American imperialism found a sympathetic ear in many developing nations. And that could hurt U.S. chances to win the voting to host the 2026 World Cup.

Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11

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