US Journalist Wahl Hoping to Contest Blatter Re-election

February 22, 2011

Sports Illustrated journalist Grant Wahl has announced his intention to stand for the presidency of the world’s soccer governing body FIFA against current occupant Sepp Blatter, and is hoping one of world football’s 208 national associations will give him a chance.

Wahl has five weeks to secure the one nomination he needs to get on the ballot for the FIFA congress in Zurich from May 31 to June 1, with Blatter a the only known candidate, although Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohammad Bin Hammam is also expected to challenge.

But Wahl said he believes an outsider is needed to press the case for change in how the organisation operates, telling Reuters: “A lot of it is about sending a message to FIFA on behalf of world soccer fans – that people want to see change.

“The reaction has been extremely positive from world soccer fans. It has been very global, which doesn’t totally surprise – I travel a lot and I know there is a lot of dissatisfaction with FIFA.

“I haven’t had any contact with federations yet – I’ve been dealing with a lot of response on social media and in newspapers, on radio and on television.

“Now it’s about trying to see if it is possible to find a federation to nominate [me] before the April 1 deadline – there are a lot of federations out there but obviously it is a huge long shot.”

Wahl has spoken to one leading official, his compatriot Chuck Blazer, the American FIFA executive committee member, adding: “He’s (Blazer) been great about it – he thought it was creative, that’s cool. I think he has a sense of humour about what I am doing – even though there is a serious element about it. Whether other [executive committee] members have that sense of humour, I don’t know.”

Wahl was highly critical in print over the selection of Russia and Qatar as hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals, writing: “For an outfit that likes to thump its chest and claim that it is not corrupt (Trust us, says FIFA president Sepp Blatter), having two oil-wealthy winners is the clearest message possible that FIFA needs a complete overhaul in its leadership and organisation.”

Wahl hopes he will be able to confront Blatter in a debate on home turf at the congress of the North, Central American and Caribbean confederations (CONCACAF) on May 3 in Miami.

“Maybe if I do get nominated, then at the CONCACAF congress in Miami maybe we can have a debate,” Wahl continued.