How are the mighty fallen!

It has been said that war is too important to be left to the generals, and by the same token, you might believe that football is too important to be left to football itself. By Brian Glanville.

FIFA, wherever now? Michel Platini, his reputation surely shattered. Sepp Blatter facing criminal proceedings — both have been provisionally suspended. And not a single convincing figure in sight to take over the Presidency and clean out these putrescent Augean Stables. Also to be mentioned for his malfeasance is the former general secretary, alias the number two, of the organisation: Jerome Valcke. The recent exposure shows a huge GBP1.35 million pay out so suddenly and so belatedly made to Platini by FIFA, only nine years in arrears!

Useless for Platini to try to throw up a laughably inadequate smoke screen over the affair. Hard indeed to wave away the fact that it was made just three months before the Presidential election which confirmed Blatter in power. Quite fatuous for Platini to suggest that the payment, whether or not it was due, was delayed because FIFA, rolling in wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, could not afford to make it.

The Swiss attorney General’s office, which together with the formidable FBI, is investigating this FIFA squalor, have classified this somewhat obscure deal as “a disloyal payment,” which can I think be translated simply as a suspect one. I think that we can be sure that any hopes Platini had of succeeding Blatter have been terminated.

We know all too well that Platini in his role as President of the European body UEFA had utterly betrayed his obligations to his 57 members by voting for Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup, initially quite unconcerned by the fact that it would mean playing matches at the height of the Qatari summer, at 50 degrees centigrade. Only to compound his outrage by quite happily accepting the subsequent move from summer to the European winter thereby utterly disrupting the programmes of the European clubs he is supposed to represent and protect.

But by now I am sure you will all be only too well aware of Platini's disastrous failing as the UEFA President. How he has swamped the ensuing European Championship Finals in France with a plethora of competitors. How he has inflicted a secondary European competition on the clubs, embracing a host of marginal, obscure football countries, largely located in remote areas. Not to mention the rules of so called ‘Financial Fair Play’ which grossly accommodated the bigger, richer clubs at the expense of the others, though these have subsequently been mitigated.

His attempts to talk his way out of his current crisis border on the absurd. “I am aware there is speculation about the facts that concern me personally. For reasons of transparency I would like to inform you of the following important aspects. From 1998 to 2002, I was employed by FIFA to work on a wide range of matters relating to football. It was a full time job and my functions were known by all... This income has been fully declared by me to the authorities in accordance with Swiss law.

“I am aware that these events may harm my image and my reputation and the image of UEFA. For these reasons I wish to use all my energies to ensure that any issues or misunderstandings be removed as soon as possible.” Which alas explains absolutely nothing! His dancing to Qatar’s tune has been ascribed not to any financial gain but to the fact that the then President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, anxious to retain his country’s advantages over Qatari oil and gas, urged him to support their World Cup bid. And it has now been disclosed that Sarkozy and Platini held a meeting with a leading Qatari figure. Meanwhile Platini’s son is working profitably in France for a Qatari business. Again Platini himself denied any kind of connection with this appointment and his support of Qatar’s World Cup bid.

Even those misguided people who evoke Lenin’s contemptuous term, “Useful Idiots”, are being forced belatedly to change their tune. Having mindlessly supported Platini’s candidature for the FIFA Presidency till now, Greg Dyke, the blowhard and erratic Chairman of the Football Association, its chief executive and former highly successful grand panjandrum of Walker’s Potato Crisps, whose name I shamefully struggle to remember, and England’s high placed delegate to FIFA, vice chairman David Gill, seem belatedly to be turning the light of their countenances away from Platini. Better late than never you might say, but never surely a tenable position. But officially, after a protracted board meeting, the statement which emerged was that the FA still considered Platini “an excellent UEFA President, who could bring the same leadership qualities to FIFA.” Qualifying their idiocy with a “proper investigation” of the belated GBP1.3 million payment FIFA have made to him.

It has been said that war is too important to be left to the generals, and by the same token, you might believe that football is too important to be left to football itself. I need hardly remind you that Joao Havelange, Blatter’s mentor, and a greedily corrupt FIFA President, having bribed his way into the position, remained in office between 1974 and 1998. Only as recently as somewhat over a year ago, having been found guilty of enriching himself from a clandestine deal with the now defunct ISL company for World Cup rights.

For this, he has received the mildest imaginable tap over the knuckles, being deprived of his position as honorary President of FIFA. As for Blatter, the walls are clearly closing in on him. He is being investigated with criminal prosecution on the horizon for the abysmal deal with the utterly corrupt Jack Warner, ex-President of CONCACAF, whose votes Blatter wanted at almost any price. We know now that he sold CONCACAF, meaning Warner, rights to exploit two World Cups at knockdown prices, the agreement being that if Warner were able to sell them at a profit, that profit would be shared with FIFA. They were and it wasn’t. But if the Americans had not embarked on their fearsome investigation, who knows how long corruption would have reigned unchecked?