More FIASCO at FIFA

Far from casting any doubt on Qatar staging the 2022 World Cup, Sepp Blatter recently suggested that the competition be started in the Qatari winter. Quite oblivious of the fact that this would throw the whole European club fixture programme into utter chaos. By Brian Glanville.

At FIFA, more dirt has hit the fan, though its President Sepp Blatter sails sublimely above it. Quite shockingly, it has emerged that no less than $2 million was mysteriously paid into the bank account of a ten-year-old child, Antonio Wigand Teixeira, who just happens to be the daughter of the notorious Ricardo Teixeira. Currently keeping his head down in Miami after having been found guilty in Switzerland — together with his old mentor and ex FIFA President Joao Havelange — of receiving a huge bribe from the now defunct ISL company, who thus acquired invaluable commercial World Cup rights.

The odd thing about this bizarre payment however is that it came in June 2011 from the former Barcelona club President Sandro Rosell. Recently, obliged to resign his Presidency, when it emerged, that under his aegis, Barcelona paid a hugely greater sum to Santos of Brazil, and alleged intermediaries, than was officially reported for the gifted young Brazilian attacker, Neymar. Just where that money came from to Teixeira must be a matter of some speculation, as it seems most unlikely to have issued from Rosell himself. And why in all logic and probability would he as Barcelona President have wanted to pay it to Teixeira’s daughter anyway?

So where does Qatar come in? The tiny, but mineral rich Arabian county, with summer temperatures of some 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which has so controversially been awarded the World Cup for 2022? Qatar lawyers have been quick to issue a statement of “not me, Guv.” The Barcelona club say they know nothing about it, though in December 2010 they agreed a sponsorship deal with the so called Qatar Foundation, which developed into a three-year corporate sponsorship with Qatar Airways. Teixeira of course was Brazil’s member of the FIFA executive which allotted the 2022 World Cup to Qatar so controversially.

The whole increasingly putrescent business is still being investigated on FIFA’s behalf by the American lawyer, Michael Garcia and the FIFA ethics committee, with particular attention to any business deals done by executive committee members.

But the mere and salient fact that man with the record of Teixeria should have held power for so long in Brazilian football and should actually have been in charge of their whole 2014 World Cup programme beggars belief or should do. In fact Teixeira, in police parlance, has a record as long as your arm as indeed does his patron Havelange, who has been able to escape from this latest scandal with the mere slap on the wrist, deprived of his honorary (rather than honourable) position as FIFA President. Havelange finagled his way into power at the expense of England’s Stanley Rous in Frankfurt in 1974.

Havelange, as we know, was the making of Teixeira, who was financially down on his knees when he married Havelange’s daughter and was subsequently put into highly lucrative business in television. As David Yallop wrote in his devastating book ‘How They Sold The Game’ in 1999, “Teixeira has gone from strength to strength and now has so much wealth that he is constantly embroiled in legal actions that are brought by Brazil’s Inland Revenue Service and the Justice Department. He is charged with tax evasion running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Small wonder that Teixeira once said of Havelange “He has taught me all I know about football.”

Blatter, president of FIFA, and now almost certain to stay in power for another four years, come the next election, is embroiled in the present contretemps. Blatter has the support of the African, Asian, and CONCACAF — American federations — whom he treats with such financial generosity. Far from casting any doubt on Qatar staging the 2022 World Cup, he recently suggested that the competition be started in the Qatari winter. Quite oblivious of the fact that this would throw the whole European club fixture programme into utter chaos. His recent words were, “The best date would be the end of the year. One has to remain realistic. If you change because you can’t play in the summer, then you must play in winter at the end of the year.” Must you? Not a scintilla here of awareness that Garcia’s investigation could potentially force a new vote on the venue for the 2022 World Cup.

As we have been told, such a development could lead to FIFA being faced with such enormous compensation payments that it would simply be wiped out financially. Arguably, an ideal solution to the ills of the international game. It is plain that Blatter will not be presidentially opposed by Michel Platini, now the deeply controversial President of the European body, UEFA, bizarrely and inexplicably not only a supporter of Qatar’s bid, but even of the proposal to stage the games in the European winter. So much for his presumed championing of the European clubs, over whom he holds presidential sway.

As wretchedly incompetent an administrator as he was supreme as a footballer, Platini has succeeded in subverting and devaluing the European Championship, bloating its entry, as both Havelange than Blatter have bloated the World Cup. Not only that, but through his incompetence, Platini failed to secure Turkey as host to the next European finals, so that they will have to be played not in one, but in a plethora of different countries.

As for Blatter, one cannot forget his long and cosy relationship with the subsequently disgraced and ejected President of CONCACAF and autocrat of Trinidad football Jack Warner, who stalked and contaminated that so called corridors of power for so long. Another devastating book, Andrew Jennings’ ‘Foul’, gives all the abundant chapter and verse through Blatter’s almost affectionate missives to Warner, of how close their association was. Blatter giving Warner pretty well all he demanded, because he needed the CONCACAF votes.

True, Rous wasn’t perfect. He cared little for the troops on the ground. He never travelled with a doctor as Secretary of the Football Association, when England played abroad. And when asked what the World Cup disciplinary committee had decided after Garrincha had been sent off for Brazil in the Chilean semi-final of the 1962 World Cup, while the world waited breathlessly, he replied, “I’ve got my papers here. Seven was cautioned and nine was suspended.” Seven being, none other than, Garrincha. But at least, as FIFA President, he ran an honest organisation.