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Roy Curtis: The suspicion must be that Sepp Blatter's blood ran cold this morning

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FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures as he attends a news conference after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich in this September 26, 2014 file picture. Swiss authorities have opened criminal proceedings against individuals on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA soccer World Cups in Russia and Qatar.  Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures as he attends a news conference after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich in this September 26, 2014 file picture. Swiss authorities have opened criminal proceedings against individuals on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA soccer World Cups in Russia and Qatar. Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is silhouetted as he walks past the podium after delivering his speech at the start of the opening session of the 39th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Vienna in this March 24, 2015 file picture. Swiss authorities have opened criminal proceedings against individuals on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA soccer World Cups in Russia and Qatar.  REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/Files

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is silhouetted as he walks past the podium after delivering his speech at the start of the opening session of the 39th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Vienna in this March 24, 2015 file picture. Swiss authorities have opened criminal proceedings against individuals on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA soccer World Cups in Russia and Qatar. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/Files

FIFA chief Sepp Blatter releases a dove during his visit to Dura al-Qar' village in the West Bank city of Ramallah in this May 20, 2015 file picture. Swiss authorities have opened criminal proceedings against individuals on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA soccer World Cups in Russia and Qatar. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/Files

FIFA chief Sepp Blatter releases a dove during his visit to Dura al-Qar' village in the West Bank city of Ramallah in this May 20, 2015 file picture. Swiss authorities have opened criminal proceedings against individuals on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA soccer World Cups in Russia and Qatar. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/Files

File photo dated 02-10-2009 of Jack Warner. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday May 27, 2015. The US Department of Justice confirmed that nine Fifa officials, including Webb and former vice-president Jack Warner from Trinidad, and five others, have been charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies in connection with an alleged "24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer". See PA story SPORT Fifa. Photo credit should read Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

File photo dated 02-10-2009 of Jack Warner. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday May 27, 2015. The US Department of Justice confirmed that nine Fifa officials, including Webb and former vice-president Jack Warner from Trinidad, and five others, have been charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies in connection with an alleged "24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer". See PA story SPORT Fifa. Photo credit should read Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter signs autographs on a ball after the Swiss women's soccer A team qualifyed for the FIFA Women's World Cup, in Luzern in this March 27, 2015 file picture. Six soccer officials were arrested in Zurich on Wednesday and detained pending extradition to the United States over suspected corruption at soccer's governing body FIFA, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

FIFA president Sepp Blatter signs autographs on a ball after the Swiss women's soccer A team qualifyed for the FIFA Women's World Cup, in Luzern in this March 27, 2015 file picture. Six soccer officials were arrested in Zurich on Wednesday and detained pending extradition to the United States over suspected corruption at soccer's governing body FIFA, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures as he addresses a news conference after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich in this March 20, 2015 file picture. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures as he addresses a news conference after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich in this March 20, 2015 file picture. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

Walter De Gregorio, FIFA Director of Communications and Public Affairs gestures during a news conference at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, May 27, 2015. Six soccer officials were arrested in Zurich on Wednesday and detained pending extradition to the United States over suspected corruption at soccer's governing body FIFA, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement.   REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

Walter De Gregorio, FIFA Director of Communications and Public Affairs gestures during a news conference at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, May 27, 2015. Six soccer officials were arrested in Zurich on Wednesday and detained pending extradition to the United States over suspected corruption at soccer's governing body FIFA, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

Journalists gather for a press conference at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, Wednesday morning, May 27, 2015. Swiss federal prosecutors say they have opened criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The prosecutors' office says the proceedings are against "persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering" in connection with the votes won by Russia and Qatar. (Ennio Leanza/Keystone via AP)

Journalists gather for a press conference at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, Wednesday morning, May 27, 2015. Swiss federal prosecutors say they have opened criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The prosecutors' office says the proceedings are against "persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering" in connection with the votes won by Russia and Qatar. (Ennio Leanza/Keystone via AP)

A police vehicle is parked outside of the five-star hotel Baur au Lac in Zurich, Switzerland, Wednesday morning, May 27, 2015. The Swiss Federal Office of Justice said six soccer officials have been arrested and detained pending extradition at  the request of U.S. authorities ahead of the FIFA congress in Zurich. In a statement Wednesday the FOJ said U.S. authorities suspect the officials of having received paid bribes totaling millions of dollars.   (Ennio Leanza/Keystone via AP)

A police vehicle is parked outside of the five-star hotel Baur au Lac in Zurich, Switzerland, Wednesday morning, May 27, 2015. The Swiss Federal Office of Justice said six soccer officials have been arrested and detained pending extradition at the request of U.S. authorities ahead of the FIFA congress in Zurich. In a statement Wednesday the FOJ said U.S. authorities suspect the officials of having received paid bribes totaling millions of dollars. (Ennio Leanza/Keystone via AP)

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FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures as he attends a news conference after a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich in this September 26, 2014 file picture. Swiss authorities have opened criminal proceedings against individuals on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA soccer World Cups in Russia and Qatar. Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

FOR so long Fifa has not so much resembled an independent state as a shady, smug, wealth-bloated parallel universe; a land of milk and honey for a self-satisfied tribe of untouchables, presided over with absolute authority by a ruthless cat-stroking villain.

From his palace on the hill, Sepp Blatter seemed to chuckle each time another allegation of corruption plonked itself atop the Himalayan hump of scandal, his jaw-line welded into a permanent expression of pompous disdain; hubris made flesh.

Here was the default setting of an organisation which, palpably, regarded itself as operating outside the reach of even its most powerful critics. 

And which was led by a man who simply could not conceal his amusement at the impotency with which his foes railed and thrashed, the pea-shooter futility with which their accusations bounced off the gilded walls of his sprawling Swiss command post. 

Fifa seemed for all the world like a five-star, chauffeur-driven, Armani-clad version of one of those ungovernable tribal borderlands along the Afghan/Pakistani border. 

So this morning’s hugely dramatic dawn arrests of seven senior Fifa officials – effectively an FBI swoop on Blatter’s cabinet, among them two of his vice-presidents,  one of them a potential successor to football’s eternal Mister Big – initially seemed like a fanciful sample chapter from some newly penned work of fiction.

But a penny for Blatter’s thoughts.

As he learned of the arrests, as it became apparent that this was part of a concerted, US-led criminal investigation into 25 years of alleged Fifa corruption. That a concurrent probe into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar had seen the Swiss Federal Office of Justice haul in for questioning 10 of those involved into those enormously controversial votes.

Blatter was not arrested this morning, he has even revealed his support for the investigation but suspicion must be that the 79-year-old’s blood ran cold.

The language employed by the authorities would be familiar to Michael Corleone:  “Racketeering” “money laundering running into hundreds of millions of dollars”, “wire fraud”.

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With each new revelation, the sense of the gangbusters moving inexorably in grows.

It is true that Blatter was not among those arrested, that there are no charges pending against him. 

True also that so many times in the past – as at Seoul in 2002 when he not only survived allegations of outrageous profiteering and claims by his whistle blowing secretary general, but emerged ever more powerful – Blatter’s position has appeared untenable.  Yet his reign, historically, has just kept rolling along.

But the timing of this swoop could not be more significant.  The delegates had gathered for Blatter’s coronation, to extend his 17-year reign, to bow and scrape once more before the emperor, to reaffirm that all is well in the cloistered kingdom.

But today's spectacularly detonated time-bomb irreversibly alters the landscape.

It adds hugely to the cesspit stink that has followed Fifa for so many years, the acrid odour of corruption that never seemed so poisonous as when the 2022 World Cup was awarded to a sizzling, desert furnace.

All of this has unfolded while Blatter was sitting ermine-clad upon his throne, an imperious, unbending, all-powerful monarch.

Morally he must be accountable for what unspools on his watch.

And so grows the consensus that we are arriving at the end of days, that seismic change may be forced on the "football family", that the bedrock of his authority folded in on itself in the early hours of this summer Swiss morning, that this time the milk and honey has not merely soured.

Rather is has been laced with the kind of killing hemlock dosage that even Blatter might struggle to withstand.  


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