What future for FIFA?

What solution to it all can there be now? Stepping temporarily into Sepp Blatter’s shoes is the leading African delegate Issa Hayatou, but he, in the vernacular, has a record as long as your arm. Chung Mong-Joon of South Korea, a potential Presidential candidate, has just been banned for six years.

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have lost their moral right to govern football.   -  AP

England fans put up a banner against FIFA President Sepp Blatter during the team's EURO 2016 Qualifying Group E match against Estonia at Wembley.   -  REUTERS

Almost every day there is fresh abysmal evidence that FIFA is a wholly discredited and hopelessly dysfunctional organisation. Sepp Blatter, though he still has clung on to a Presidential office from which he has long resigned, faces more charges, brought not only by the American FBI but by the Swiss prosecutors.

Michel Platini, who looked an almost automatic choice for his successor, despite serious questions of his competence and decision making, is now himself deeply embroiled in controversy. He has been suspended from his European Presidency over a deeply dubious GBP1.3 million payment from FIFA, paid to him some nine suspicious years after it was due. His attempted apology has been risible. Even to the extent of stating that when the payment was allegedly and actually due, FIFA hadn’t the funds to make it! Yet as we all know, FIFA as an organisation is almost overloaded with immense wealth.

Yet what of the useful idiots, to borrow again Lenin’s contemptuous words for the West, who almost to the last have been trumpeting Platini’s claims to the FIFA Presidency. Only now they have stopped, when it appears that the dubious, protracted payment was so suspiciously made almost on the eve of Blatter standing yet again and all too successfully, for FIFA President.

Now, to be frank, the three grand panjandrums of the English Football Association strongly supported Platini’s Presidency candidature for FIFA, despite abundant evidence even before his recent suspension that he would be a most dubious choice.

Not least, with apologies for treading on familiar ground, his wanton betrayal of Qatar. Whether or not it was because pressure was put on him by the then French President Nicolas Sarkozy, anxious to protect his country’s interests in Qatar, is irrelevant. It has recently emerged that Platini actually attended a meeting with Sarkozy and a highly ranking Qatari. That his European players would be obliged to operate in 50 degrees centigrade of summer heat seemed not to perturb Platini, whose own son by the way had a lucrative job with a Qatari organisation in Paris. And when FIFA decided to stage the tournament in the midst of a European winter with all the chaos and confusion it would cause to Europe’s clubs, Platini was quite content in a phrase to sell them down the river.

As things stand, there has been no move to take that World Cup away from Qatar and anyway it would be far too late for the hundreds of cruelly exploited workers, so many of them Nepalese, who perished working on the Qatari stadia — unable in so many cases even to escape with their passports taken away.

England’s useful idiots embarrassingly include the very Chairman of the Football Association, Greg Dyke, who with the FA’s chief executive, a man whose previous major triumph seems to have been in forging the success of Walker’s potato crisps, and the vice chairman David Gill. A bit late for him, now also a high appointee in FIFA itself, to call for an emergency meeting of FIFA’s executive committee to discuss the crisis. Meanwhile Platini is subject to a 90-day suspension from office. Saying defiantly but hardly convincingly, “I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague… I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.”

And UEFA are scandalously defying scandal racked FIFA, supporting Platini, though they are well within their rights to oppose FIFA’s ridiculous alternative UEFA President, the Spaniard Angel Maria Villar Llona, who tried to block the original FIFA investigation of corruption, inadequate though it may have been, conducted by the American lawyer Michael Garcia, whose report, when finally published, was ruthless, “redacted”, meaning cut, by FIFA’s officialdom.

Then there is the putrescent case of Jerome Valcke. May I remind you that he, when a middle ranking officer of FIFA, was sent to a New York court together with the notorious Chuck Blazer, who in the meantime has turned state’s evidence with extensive admission of corruption, to plead the case of Visa at the expense of the actual rights holder MasterCard, for the World Cup. The woman judge called both of them liars and threw their case out of court. Whereupon, Valcke went back to Zurich to be ever so briefly suspended, only for the smoke to clear and to find him installed as the chief executive under Blatter himself.

But now he, too, has been obliged to resign in disgrace, guilty of a ticketing fraud which made him huge sums of money. Which brings us to the ever repellent case of Jack Warner, the ex-Trinidadian President of CONCACAF, now under criminal charges for his manifold crimes. But note not for the first time what it was the American FBI which brought the charges and arrested him. It now emerges that Blatter, on record to have given him over the years almost everything he wanted, since he controlled the vital CONCACAF vote, sold him quantities of World Cup tickets at a knockdown price with the proviso that if he made a profit on them, FIFA would be entitled to a substantial repayment. Warner did indeed all too predictably profit hugely from the deal, but FIFA have yet to receive any compensation.

What solution to it all can there be now? Stepping temporarily into Sepp Blatter’s shoes is the leading African delegate Issa Hayatou, but he, in the vernacular, has a record as long as your arm. Chung Mong-Joon of South Korea, a potential Presidential candidate, has just been banned for six years. He had promised his 2018 World Cup vote to England, but didn’t give it and merely laughed off protests. And needless to say Valcke is pleading innocence, despite the fact that he has voluntarily resigned his post.

Yet as we all know the deeply corrupt and greedy Brazilian Joao Havelange stayed in FIFA Presidential office from 1974 to 1998. In retrospect it seems almost incredible that he should have survived so long, with all major European powers quite happy to rubber stamp his malevolent tenure every four years. Eventually and belatedly as we know he was found guilty of pocketing a huge bribe paid by the now defunct ISL company for World Cup rights and deprived of his position of honorary FIFA President. That must have hurt.

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