Blatter battered

In seeking to implicate Michel Platini, Sepp Blatter, as the old saying goes, seems simply to be making a rod for his own back.

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini tumble from one scandal to another.   -  AP

With Sepp Blatter, so to speak, voluntarily and mysteriously turning the equivalent of state’s evidence, whither FIFA now? And what of Russia? Equally puzzling is the fact that his confession should be made to the Russian news organisation TASS who, in turn, made it public. If Blatter’s aim was to disgrace and impugn Michel Platini, he has surely dug his own grave at the same time. Meanwhile he insists that it is too late to take the 2018 World Cup away from the Russians.

One assumes that this is an opinion shared by TASS, though there is surely still time to vote again, even if the natural contenders, England, who were grossly cheated out of their bid and now want to recoup the GBP21 million or so they spent on an always doomed campaign, declare through their unconvincing chairman Greg Dyke that they are no longer interested in staging the tournament.

Blatter now tells us that the decision to give Russia the World Cup was actually taken before the vote by the Executive Committee. Which, surely since he knew about it, makes him complicit in the chicanery and therefore subject, as he had clearly previously thought or hoped he wouldn't be, to criminal charges in the USA.

Blatter also admitted in that TASS interview that he like the executive committee had known all about the premature award of the tournament to Russia before a vote was even taken. It was also decided, he has told us, to award the subsequent World Cup to the USA but this became impossible when Platini threw his weight of UEFA behind Qatar.

Eh? Blatter’s malign intention to blacken Platini’s UEFA vote takes precedence over the whole executive committee? In seeking to implicate Platini, Blatter, as the old saying goes, seems simply to be making a rod for his own back.

Platini meanwhile has come out with a long, plaintive but hardly convincing ‘Not me, Guv,’ apology. Intent on explaining away above all the mysterious GBP1.3 million payment made nine suspect years in arrears shortly before Blatter, with UEFA votes, was re-elected as FIFA president. Platini, serving a 90 day ban imposed by FIFA’s so-called Ethics Committee, still seems to believe he could still become the next FIFA President.

Flamboyant indeed, he insists, “I have the sense of being a knight from the Middle Ages having boiling oil poured on my head.” He insists: “I am in all humility the most able to run world football.” That massive belated payment “represents the equivalent of four years salary arrears that FIFA owed me when I was the President’s special adviser.” The contract he says still exists, though no one can trace it, as it was oral. And thus legal in Switzerland. Shades of the probably mythical words of the late Hollywood producer Sam Goldwyn: “A verbal contract’s not worth the paper it’s written on.”

He pursued, “FIFA had the right after five years not to pay me. But they decided to respect what was a perfectly valid arrangement.” The famous French saying, “Qui s’excuse s’accuse,” who excuses himself accuses himself, seems all too depressingly appropriate.

The implicit explanation angrily denied by Platini is that the payment was a bribe not to stand against Blatter for the FIFA Presidency in the election which was due just three months later. At least Platini in this detailed apologia seems not to have reiterated the fatuous insistence that FIFA didn’t pay him for all these years because they didn’t have the money, when we all know that they were swimming in untold riches.

Whether or not the money was paid as a bribe to Platini who had previously been as thick as thieves with Blatter, Platini has still to explain his heinous support for Qatar over its World Cup 2022 bid. It has, as you may remember, been said that he was acting under the pressure of the then President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, who wanted to continue to benefit from Qatar’s mineral resources.

Be that as it may his willingness initially to enforce the choice of a country where the summer heat in which the tournament was initially to be played would have been 50-degree centigrade. And then quite happily to assent to the dates being moved to the European winter to the immense detriment of the clubs he is supposed to defend and represent. Meanwhile his son Laurent is currently and prosperously employed as a lawyer working for the Qatari Investment authority.

Russia? We know all too well that when Michael Garcia’s investigative committee, such as it was, asked for documentation, only a fraction of it was made available, the lame excuse being that the computers which had been used by the Russian bid team had been returned to the owner and later destroyed, as were paper and email evidence. How very convenient.

Blatter, hell bent on bringing Platini down with him, has stated, “Everything was good until Nicolas Sarkozy came to a meeting with the Crown Prince of Qatar, who is now the ruler of Qatar. And at a lunch afterwards with Mr. Platini, Sarkozy said it would be good to go to Qatar. That changed the pattern.” Blatter had nothing to say about the feeble Russian excuse on par with the famous schoolboy’s insistence that “the dog ate my homework.”

Blustering Greg Dyke, at the Football Association, absurdly and naively supported Platini despite the shocking decision to choose Qatar. He and the other confused top bananas at the FA have till very recently been supporting Platini, Qatar or no Qatar. Now Dyke is on his high horse, demanding that the GBP21 million paid and wasted by the English World Cup bid be repaid . He has with some justice blamed the massive accountancy firm KPMG declaring, “Quite big sums of money do not appear to have been accounted for by KPMG. And if Mr Blatter paid Mr Platini GBP1.5 million nine years late, how is that accounted for? The first thing I would have done is send in a bunch of forensic accountants to see where the money came from and where it went.” Better late than never I suppose.

But then you remember that Blatter’s predecessor and patron Joao Havelange stayed in Presidential office for 24 years utterly corrupt and quite unimpeded. And still enjoys his millions in retirement.