A day after his only competitor in Wednesday's election for FIFA president withdraw from the race, Sepp Blatter was cleared by the FIFA ethics committee of any wrongdoing. Days away from being elected to his fourth term as head of football's world governing body it appears as if all is well for Blatter, right? Maybe not quite. While the ethics committee may have cleared him of any wrongdoing, they did not completely close the door on the matter.
Blatter's former challenger for FIFA president, Mohamed bin Hammam, was among three provisionally suspended by the ethics committee for reported briberies in exchange for presidential votes. The other three people involved are CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and two members of the Caribbean Football Union. The four are alleged to have been involved in a scheme that saw as much as $40,000 in cash handed over.
Once the ethics committee opened an investigation into bin Hammam and the three others, bin Hammam asked the ethics committee to include Blatter in the investigation as well. The Qatari accused Blatter of knowing about the bribery scheme and not reporting it, which is against FIFA rules.
While the ethics committee provisionally suspended bin Hammam and the three others, Blatter was cleared because he could not report what had yet to be committed. Under that logic, Blatter cannot be accused of knowing of and not reporting a bribery that had yet to be proven as committed. If further investigation does prove that the bribery did happen, it is reasonable to think that the ethics committee could reopen the case against Blatter and determine whether or not he knew about the scheme.
All of this talk is about FIFA, which is hardly the most ethical of groups. It is also headed by a man who is about to win a fourth term atop the totem pole so expecting the ethics committee to reopen and charge Blatter might be wishful thinking, but there is a scenario in which he is not completely in the clear yet.