In contrast with Swiss police, who until now have turned a blind eye to the corruption scandals — including an alleged bribe of $10m (€8.9m) from South Africa to secure the 2010 World Cup — there can be no doubt the FBI is hunting for scalps. Seldom has a resignation been so divisive. Blatter’s supporters range from Russia’s Vladimir Putin, to African and Asian soccer-mad countries that kept the 79-year-old in power for almost 20 years in return for largesse. His detractors are mainly in the West where even European nations are divided, whereas America is out for blood in what has become a global manhunt for Fifa corruption suspects.
Cynically, having for years backed Blatter, nothing short of root-and-branch reform will satisfy the sponsors and critics of Fifa, including Ireland, which has finally taken the high moral ground and loudly applauded his fall. If the probe by Swiss police has come too late to stymie Russia’s 2018 World Cup, it may yet scuttle the 2022 event in Qatar where, to its eternal shame, Fifa remained silent when Nepalese people were refused permission to return home to bury loved ones who died in the recent earthquakes.