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Sports

Opinion: A good day for football

Sepp Blatter's sudden decision to step down leaves many open questions, but finally FIFA has the chance to answer them, says DW's Joscha Weber.

Sit it out. Keep quiet. Laugh it off. That has been Joseph S. Blatter's career so far. "Crisis? What crisis?" he once asked, more ignorantly than ironically, while FIFA suffered one of its many crises of trust. The immortal Blatter appeared to be above every form of criticism.

Putting it another way, it didn't interest to him. Until now. He's gone. The gasp of relief that went around the football world was audible. Redemption. The man who has been pulling strings at FIFA for 40 years has stepped down. A good day for football, and here are the reasons why.

Three good reasons for optimism

It's a good day, because Blatter was responsible for the dirty culture of nearly systemic corruption in football. Although no one has yet proven that Blatter himself took bribes, he was most likely aware of goings-on: The Swiss prosecution argued that Blatter knew about bribes amounting to as much as 142 million Swiss francs ($152.1 million, 136.3 million euros).

Weber Joscha Kommentarbild App

DW sports editor Joscha Weber

Blatter did nothing against the scheming in his own organization. As a result, dozens of FIFA officials, many of whom were friends of Blatter's, were suspected and eventually shown to be corrupt. His inaction despite his awareness of what was going on makes him an accomplice of corruption.

It's a good day, because FIFA has reclaimed a tiny bit of credibility. At least there's hope that all the talk is finally over and actions can now follow. Far too often there was talk of transparency, and yet everything stayed in the dark.

For example, Blatter's income is a FIFA state secret. Or take the cliché of fair play: pray tell how this squares with insider accounts of envelopes containing bribes paving the way for Blatter to become president in 1998. As for responsibility, Blatter only took that verbally in the most recent corruption scandal - something of an empty phrase up until now.

Attention turns to UEFA

It's a good day, and the path is clear for a new start. FIFA can find their feet again, throw old laws of the game out the window and get rid of the corrupt individuals in the organization.

Yes, Blatter should have resigned earlier. His re-election damaged his competition and gave him one final triumph - allowing him to leave the ring undefeated. But now is the time to look for positives: The defeated opposition, as well as the embarrassed and discordant Europeans, can gather themselves again.

They can and they must take responsibility and show what a new and improved FIFA can look like. For example, genuinely admitting what FIFA actually is: No longer a small public charity following Swiss regulation, but a profit-orientated group. Honesty, now that would be some start.

Admittedly, there is a lot of hope in these lines. Whether Blatter's decision to step down really is the start of a FIFA revolution remains to be seen, but the chance remains. All that is needed is for someone to take it.

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