Alexi Lalas: ‘Feds Put Pressure On Blatter’

Three days after winning a fifth term as FIFA president, Sepp Blatter resigned Tuesday amid shame and scandal. Blatter said that a special election will be held between December 2015 and March 2016 to determine his successor.

“It was nuts,” FOX Sports soccer analyst Alexi Lalas said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “We were actually going through some prep work for the beginning of the women’s World Cup. We have some preview shows coming up at the end of the week on FS1 and then the kickoff on Saturday, and so all of a sudden, all hell broke loose, to be quite honest. We started getting pulled out individually and then they just completely shut down the meeting. We ran down and we fired up the set a few days early here. That’s all anybody’s talking about. Obviously it’s a huge news story and a soccer story. And as you mentioned for Sepp Blatter, coming off of his reelection last week, I don’t think anybody saw that this was necessarily not going to happen, but (nobody knew it) was going to happen four days later. It is a pretty amazing and continually unfolding story.”

But why would Blatter resign? Did sponsors threaten to pull money, or did Blatter feel pressure from the feds?

“I definitely think the sponsors,” Lalas said. “And from the statements that are coming out, they got together and they without a doubt put pressure on him. But I do think it’s a combination of both. That’s what’s going to be interesting when we find out what facilitated this. Did they get him into a room and open up a notebook and in Hollywood type of fashion say, ‘This is what we have and the people who got arrested last week continue to sing, and Sepp, you can either go through this door or this door.’ And he chose the door that we all saw publicly today.”

Blatter is reportedly being investigated by the FBI and U.S. prosecutors. It is unknown who will replace Blatter, but Prince Ali bin Hussein, who ran against Blatter in last Friday’s election, is still interested in the position.

Whether it’s him or someone else, however, one thing is certain: things need to change.

“Maybe I’m still jaded and a little skeptical from just this history of corruption, but it does no good to get rid of Sepp Blatter and to install somebody else that’s just going to go in and do the same thing,” Lalas said. “If it’s just business as usual, that’s not going to help soccer – and in order for real change to happen, there has to be a complete house-cleaning. Whatever man or woman is installed in that position, he or she has to understand and be absolutely committed to the transparency and the honesty regarding how FIFA spends its money, where FIFA spends its money and following that money so it doesn’t continue to be skimmed off the top. Because FIFA can do a tremendous amount of good with the amount of money that they make.”

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