FIFA and the term ‘hitting your head against a brick wall’ seem to go hand in hand these days and something has to change. The latest tirade aimed at FIFA is not about introducing goal-line technology or changing the FIFA voting system – it is something more sinister, the parts of sport none of us like, the parts that stay hidden in seedy bars and dark corners, welcome to the world of politics, corruption and bribery.
For those of you that don’t exist in a purely football world that is much like the Matrix, the big news this week was that former FA chairman, Lord Triesman, announced to MP’s in the House of Commons that he was asked for favours in exchange for favourable votes whilst heading up England’s 2018 World Cup bid.
Those accused are four members of the FIFA Executive Committee that allegedly made various requests ranging from TV rights for a friendly game to the funding of an education centre in Trinidad at a cost of £2.5m. The worrying thing is that one of the representatives accused (with the latter request) is FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.
The timing of these allegations is interesting. The FIFA presidential election takes place in June and it wouldn’t be farcical to suggest that this is two fingers up at Sepp Blatter following England’s failure to win the World Cup bid. But the allegations made are very serious and also against someone who is prominent within FIFA, this is no joke.
FIFA have reacted and Blatter advised that this matter will be thoroughly investigated and he wants it dealt with before the FIFA Congress in 3 weeks time (FIFA record!). Now Blatter has invited Lord Triesman to present his evidence to a FIFA ethics committee in Zurich this week to show how seriously they are taking this.
With Blatter’s re-election campaign in full swing, such swift action is no surprise. But the depth of this corruption will never be fully investigated in only 3 weeks. I mean how long did it take for him to even consider goal line technology!
There are internal politics and Blatter’s ethics must be under scrutiny; he wants a final term, so would he want to rock the boat by digging deep in to what has been going on? If the allegations are correct they will undermine his leadership.
Ultimately this may bring about his own downfall (positive if you are a Blatter-hater) as he will be forced to take action against the accused, which will lead to the ‘old boys club’ that supports Blatter within FIFA disbanding.
Ironically this could be the best thing he has ever done, effectively ending his own reign for the good of the game. Blatter and FIFA always seem immune to reform and change but this time their may be no choice.
Why have UEFA been no more than a silent observer in all of this with no comment thus far from Platini. Why? Maybe Platini is torn, he knows if Blatter stays in power for a final term then he would be the front runner to become the new FIFA president. If Mohamed Bin Hammam was voted to power in June instead of Blatter, then his chances would be less.
Another reason could be that whilst Lord Triesman was at the FA he didn’t make many friends and allies, but he did make one very powerful one … you guessed it, Platini. Maybe this is holding Platini back from getting UEFA involved because he knows the truth but doesn’t want to risk his future. Although they are two separate entities, surely UEFA should be one of the main bodies demanding answers amongst all of this, there has to be questions asked as to why they have not at least expressed a concern. No doubt we will get the default response that this is nothing to do with them. Maybe this time the shit is going to hit the fan.
In terms of the allegations made against Warner et al there is some evidence we know of: Premier League chairman, Sir Dave Richards, has backed up the claim saying that Warner did ask for £2.5m to build an education centre in Trinidad and they responded by telling Warner ‘where to go’.
Jack Warner has been on the offensive since the allegations, stating that he ‘laughed like hell’ at the claims, questioning why now and not December when this was alleged to have taken place, and highlighted that ‘Triesman was unceremoniously removed (from the FA & the bid). Where is his credibility?’. Is this the reaction of a guilty man or someone so cocksure of his power within FIFA that he is untouchable.
This whole situation is turning in to a very public political campaign.
Politicians & barristers love to focus on credibility. If you have no credibility, how can you influence others? Since losing the 2018 World Cup bid, the FA’s actions in defeat have been ridiculed by many countries within FIFA. Because everyone was surprised by the result and then questioned the process, the FA have come across as ungracious and opposing towards FIFA.
This will only be heightened by the latest scandal, but at what cost going forward? Will we be seen as the nation that forced FIFA to clean up its act? Or will we be seen as a bitter loser who did their best to butter up as many FIFA members for World Cup votes, only to crash and burn when it came the crunch and are now intent on attacking FIFA?!
Could it be that we don’t do bribes and line pockets, therefore we are not that popular?
Whatever the truth is, let’s hope it comes out as this whole thing stinks. Let’s hope there is some hard evidence rather than just informal verbal conversations. For too long FIFA have been a law unto themselves with Blatter leading the charade that they are an upstanding, uncorrupt organization. For most, Blatter has been slow to catch up with the way the modern day game has evolved and the benefits technological advances can bring, he is no longer working in the interests of the game. He has to go.
It is ironic that although shunned within the FA, Lord Triesman could utimately change the face of the game globally. I hope this highlights that the football world is ready for change. Gone are the days of the brown envelope and hidden agendas, let’s get an international governing body that is fair and transparent, who uphold values and principles and a president that can guide the game in to a new era.
Politics and sport don’t mix for good reason, whoever leads FIFA forward will be picking up a poisoned challis, let’s just hope that finally FIFA can be run by someone who can clean up & evolve the game, instead of someone who is a complete muppet.