FIFA exposed

Out of action... Mohammed bin Hammam (right) of Qatar and Jack Warner of Trinidad & Tobago.-AP Out of action... Mohammed bin Hammam (right) of Qatar and Jack Warner of Trinidad & Tobago.

Thanks to Insight’s revelations we have abundant and outrageous chapter and verse on how Sepp Blatter himself did a deal with the Qataris, enabling him to stay in Presidential office, writes Brian Glanville.

The latest shocking revelations by my Insight colleagues on the Sunday Times should have devastating consequences for the ineffable Sepp Blatter and for the 2022 World Cup which putrescent little Qatar has, beyond doubt, bought. But in the vernacular, don’t hold your breath. So far the response to these appalling revelations has been dead silence. Not a word in other British newspapers. Not a peep from that old blowhard Greg Dyke, Chairman of the Football Association, though it is interesting to see that he has at long last resolved his own problems with FIFA, finally being the last major executive to return to its Brazilian donors the GBP3000 watch which all he and his fellow members were gifted despite FIFA rules that they were not entitled to do so. Dyke, to be fair, had promised to give his own watch to a charity, but he should surely never have delayed as long as this.

Far more culpable surely is Michel Platini who, as President of UEFA, the European Football Association, should surely be honour bound to protect the interests of its members. Which, in turn, were bound to be severely and negatively affected when the 2022 World Cup was voted to be given to Qatar with its 50 degree summer temperatures.

Platini, by his own admission, still gave the Qataris his vote. Then, when there was a general outcry over risks which would be run by the players and to a lesser degree the would be spectators, Qatar proposed the tournament should run in their winter; which meant, in turn, through winter stages of the major European club tournament.

Platini saw nothing amiss with that either, despite the fact that it would inevitably throw those European tournaments into chaos. He once more, as we alas know, endorsed the idea, thereby completely sacrificing the interests of his UEFA members. Why? It has yet to be denied that he was reacting to pressure from the then President of France, Sarkozy, who felt it was in his country’s economic interests.

Now thanks to Insight’s revelations we have abundant and outrageous chapter and verse on how Blatter himself did a deal with the Qataris, enabling him to stay in Presidential office; at the expense of the Qatari super-fixer, Mohammed Bin Hammam, who had succeeded in suborning no fewer than 14 of the 22 votes cast by the executive FIFA committee in favour of Qatar. This, in turn, thoroughly alarmed Blatter who thus saw Bin Hammam as a serious challenger to himself as the next FIFA President.

It was now that Blatter turned to the Emir of Qatar who is all powerful there. If Blatter could be confirmed in office, then he would see to it that Qatar kept the World Cup. The Faustian bargain was done. Bin Hammam was called into the Presidential Office at FIFA in Zurich where he found awaiting him both Blatter and Emir, who ordered Hammam to withdraw from the FIFA Presidential contest. Shocked, he had no alternative but to obey. According to the investigators, who have just published a book about their inspired reaches through literally millions of incriminating emails, called ‘The Ugly Game’, Bin Hammam proceeded to ultimately slink away from football entirely. The bitter bite you might say. Hard to feel remotely sorry for him.

In fact, as Insight has shown, he had no alternative but to give up all connection with football. His attempt, in May 2011, to bribe the top executives of the Caribbean countries at a price of $40,000 each to support his Presidential bid was made known and led to his suspension by FIFA. The bribes were offered on his behalf by none other than the notorious Jack Warner of Trinidad, the main man of the CONCACAF Federation, given all to easy and nauseating access to both David Cameron the British Prime Minister and Prince William, who were hoping, you may remember, for his vote backing their 2018 World Cup bid. He basked in his social splendour, then duly voted for someone else. England received just two votes, one of which was their own.

That June, Blatter was duly elected unopposed and Bin Hammam was banned from football for life. He appealed against this with transient success, only in the following December to be banned again for similar excesses.

So, with Blatter seeing to it as he had promised the Emir, that Qatar would keep the World Cup, it wasn’t put to the vote again. This, despite all the appalling stories emerging from there of the deaths of hundreds of immigrant workers, engaged in building the proposed World Cup stadia, many of them Nepalese, their passports confiscated so that there was no easy escape.

Ever shameless, the day after Bin Hammam had withdrawn from the Presidential contest, Blatter called a Press conference at which he announced, blithely ignoring the dramatic revelations which the Insight team had just made, “We are happy that we have not received any evidence whatsoever from the Sunday Times or any announced whistleblower with regards to the allegations made. Therefore what shall we do: nothing. The World Cup 2022 is untouched by that.”

Speaking off the record, a member of the executive committee told the investigators, “Many talks were held between the old buddies, the Qatar Emir and Blatter and the result was that Bin Hammam had to be neutralised. Obedience is simply a duty there. So Bin Hammam does not do any act which is not in line with the Emir’s will.”

And now? Blatter’s strength is that FIFA is made up of hundreds of different countries each of which, big or small, has the same single vote. So, like his ineffable mentor Joao Havelange who, for all his corrupt methods, stayed in office between 1974 and 1998 (only recently deprived of his so-called honorary Presidency of FIFA when his nefarious role in the ISL and World Cup rights scandal was revealed) Blatter, for the moment, at least sails on.

Reminding one of the words of the 18th century English philosopher Edmund Burke, “For evil to triumph it is enough for good men to do nothing.” Which is precisely and abysmally what they did with just one outburst in Seoul by Adam Crozier of the FA before the World Cup of 2002 in South Korea and Japan.

It seems almost unimaginable that nothing will happen to Blatter and FIFA now. But the present silence is all too far from golden.