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How an obvious crook like Sepp Blatter keeps winning re-election

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The third world thinks it needs Blatter, and he's happy to court their votes.

Sepp Blatter's election to a fifth term as FIFA president is not just incomprehensible to soccer fans in the English-speaking world, but most of the developed world. Blatter's reign at the top, the decisions he's made and the corruption associated with his presidency are undoubtedly bad for the game at its highest levels. But just because he's bad for the game we follow on a daily basis doesn't mean he's bad for absolutely everyone.

The reason that Blatter carries such unwavering support in Africa, the Caribbean and parts of Asia is because he gets things done for them. He makes sure that their projects are funded. There are pitches and other facilities in those countries that probably wouldn't exist if Blatter wasn't president.

Has Blatter lined his own pockets through his sanctioning of corruption at worst, and tolerance of it at best? It's possible he has, and it's also possible that we'll never know. But what we do know is that he's made the game more accessible to people in developing countries and wants to continue to do so. He does this in ways that are not straightforward, but he doesn't believe they're unethical because, to him, the ends justify the means. The developed world sees Blatter as a crook, but to many soccer administrators in the third world and himself, he is Robin Hood.

Casual fans of the sport in general and hardcore fans of the game at its highest level don't see this or don't care. All they care about is whether or not the sport is clean and fair at its absolute highest levels, and in many cases, if women's soccer is adequately funded and supported, something Blatter also stinks at doing.

Is there a way to have it all? A clean and fair game at the top of the pyramid, increased funding for women's soccer and lots of investment in new facilities in poor nations? Of course there is, and there's every possibility that Prince Ali bin Hussein would have pulled that off. But there's also the possibility that a new administration that's focused on fighting corruption could ignore the needs of those countries. If you're the FA president in one of those nations, you're currently getting the support you need to develop your soccer programs and there's a chance the new guy won't give you that same support, why wouldn't you vote for the incumbent?

Ultimately, this is where Prince Ali screwed up. His manifesto was about "turning the pyramid upside-down" and making FIFA about developing the game, but he didn't give the delegates who voted for Blatter what they wanted. He didn't loudly, repeatedly and publicly declare that he would give more financial support for soccer in the third world than Blatter ever has. That's what he needed to do to win, but instead, he spent more of his time and energy focusing on cleaning up FIFA and restoring its reputation. That sounds great to fans in the first world, but the people voting for him didn't care, and not necessarily because they, personally, get kickbacks.

If you are an American or British fan of professional soccer, Blatter's re-election is definitely bad for you. If you're a woman or a big fan of women's soccer, it's bad for you too. But if you're a boy in a poor sub-Saharan African country who just wants a decent field to play on, what do you care about some executives taking bribes to grant a World Cup to Qatar?