Fifa elections: Blatter wins as dark days light up social media

The Sun and Homer Simpson
From the newspapers to The Simpsons, Fifa's three days of controversy have spread on social media

Fifa elections are boring, right?

A bunch of men in suits, picking another man we will see in a suit at football matches for years to come.

But introduce the potential for lawsuits, raids on a hotel, a blame game and a bomb threat and what have you got? The wild west of democracy, or in this case, the Fifa presidential election of 2015.

Yes, Sepp Blatter achieved a fifth term as the head of world football but rarely has an election result arrived following such scandal.

In a social media age, the sublime and ridiculous found its way onto the internet from the moment authorities arrested seven Fifa officials in Zurich on corruption charges on Wednesday morning.

World reacts to evolving drama

In less than 48 hours, over 79,000 tweets used the 'Fifa arrests' hashtag, while #Fifagate was the subject of over 92,000 interactions on Twitter.

Across the globe, world football's governing body was under a spotlight, lighting up social media as the saga evolved and more of the parties involved delivered speeches.

A map of social media interaction on Fifa
The conversation globally changed from talk of Fifa (red) on Wednesday to Blatter (green) on Thursday

"Fifa is imploding," tweeted Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker as news of the two corruption inquiries - one from US authorities, one from Swiss - broke on Wednesday morning.

American success - How do you vote Homer?

But why was the United States doing this now? Were the FBI and attorney general Loretta Lynch a tad slow?

The country's own leading family - The Simpsons - forecast Fifa arrests in an episode in March 2014, a fact many on social media were keen to point out.

Springfield's finest were visited by a representative from world football's governing body, who, before being handcuffed by authorities, calls for Homer - "a symbol of integrity" - to referee at the World Cup.

The Simpsons
'You Don't Have to Live Like a Referee' was number 546 of the 574 Simpsons episodes aired since 1989

The US embraced the role its law enforcement played in shaking the game to its core and news of raids on Fifa buildings in Zurich and Miami only firmed up views that these dramatic days would be a gamechanger.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - a satirical TV news show running since 1996 with a huge US audience - compared Fifa's decision-makers to corrupt bankers, while online newspaper The Onion stated America's reward should be to host a World Cup this summer.

An internet meme pokes fun at Fifa
The US intervention meant football should now universally be called 'soccer', according to some on social media

"The beautiful irony is that Fifa has been trying for decades to get the Yanks interested in 'soccer'. They got the FBI interested at least," read one tweet.

Waking to handcuffs

Wednesday's dawn raid of a five-star hotel lent a little Hollywood blockbuster drama to what looked like being a routine election victory for Blatter.

A cartoon shows Fifa officials being caught in a net
Cartoonist Dan Wasserman highlighted Fifa's rapidly changing relationship with US authorities

Candidates Luis Figo and Michael van Praag each pulled out a week before the vote, leaving a straight two-horse race for a term as head of football's world power house.

Figo added on Facebook: "People who love football such as I do, will remember 27 May as one of the worst days of the history of Fifa."

But Fifa argued that what many regarded as the blackest of marks against its name was good news. Communications director Walter De Gregorio pointed out that the organisation had provided evidence to Swiss authorities in November.

A valid point or a bid to avoid punishment from the media at a hastily arranged news conference?

A cartoon of Fifa delegates feigning injury
Perhaps feigning injury to avoid arrest may work, as suggested in a piece of art on Africartoons.com

Blatter speaks in face of anger

Blatter was the public villain, though the 79-year-old was not one of the people charged.

"If Blatter had even a crumb of dignity remaining, he'd walk away now, creep back to his lair, sit in his armchair and stroke his cat," added Lineker. That was never going to happen.

A fifa cartoon
Villains including Dr Evil, Darth Vader and Gordon Gekko join Blatter in Jon Horner's illustration

Blatter's name did not appear anywhere in the 161-page US indictment, though it did show up in over 390,000 tweets between his speech in Zurich on Thursday afternoon and Friday lunchtime.

Kaa from Jungle Book
Blatter said he would restore trust, prompting some on social media to share an image of Kaa, a snake from The Jungle Book famed for his "trust in me" plea

His comments were those of defiance and why not when he still formed part of a two-man field in seeking re-election, holding the ongoing support of many confederations.

And yet Thursday should have been a good day for Fifa as a computer game that bears the organisation's name - Fifa 16 - announced that, for the first time, it will feature female players. A good news day then with the growth of the game showcased?

As gamers flooded social media with news of the development to their prized virtual reality domain, some creative types came up with their own take on what the September release may look like.

Fifa 16
Lionel Messi typically provides the cover photo for Fifa games but some on social media had a different take on how it should look

Election day - more twists

And so came decision day. A day many saw as straightforward for Blatter months earlier was suddenly transformed into a swim through shark-infested waters while blind folded and carrying a suitcase.

Daily Star and The Sun
The Daily Star (left) and The Sun used anti-Blatter headlines on their back pages for Friday

Over 90% of the BBC Sport website's audience said they would vote against Blatter, but there was also support aplenty for Fifa's leader of 17 years, notably from Russia - who will host the 2018 World Cup - and the vast majority of Africa.

Sepp Blatter and Vladimir Putin
Russia's leader supports Blatter and the Fifa leader was edited into a famous image of Vladimir Putin

One Russian pundit wrote that the threat of America facing Fifa would give the US more power, but the prospect of change at the top of football had grown vastly after a frenetic 72 hours, placing Blatter in defensive mode.

Sepp Blatter
One meme from South America super-imposed Blatter's face on to Austin Powers character Dr Evil

A bomb threat came and went before his pre-vote speech - which drew online ridicule as he called for "evolution" rather than "revolution" - but nothing it seems could prevent Blatter winning a fifth term.

A haul of 133 votes to Prince Ali of Jordan's 73 was not enough to win a majority, meaning victory was taken by concession before a second round of voting could take place.

"I don't think this is the end of it," said Football Association chairman Greg Dyke, looking to football's future.

After all the controversies, the speeches, the calls for change, votes and ultimately a result, will we see an "evolution" in the beautiful game? Or will three days of scandal prove only a precursor to ugly times ahead?

A ball is burst with air escaping
Will the three days of drama lead to a new approach from Fifa?

Top Stories