Sunday, 14 June 2015


Having recently been researching the FIFA scandals for a piece I was writing, I have a very clear vision of where FIFA itself will be heading come December, when Sepp Blatter is supposedly going to stand down as its President. Oddly enough, as sports editor of the TV news agency UPITN, I had dealings with Sepp when he was the General Secretary of the federation, and considered the 'good guy' to deal with, as opposed to the then-President, Joao Havelange of Brazil (whose in-laws and descendants figure in the current and other past scandals as well). Sepp was, I believe the first of a number of Secretaries General to replace powerful Presidents in major federations, a big step in the transition of international sport from the control of the blazers to the suits (and the aptly-named Chuck Blazer, who was more a suit, symbolises that).

You read it here first: come December, Blatter will be 'spontaneously' asked to remain by a number of federations, & present himself  as the only man who can 'clean up' FIFA & steady the ship. He will be re-elected. He will probably present himself, and the sport, as being victimised by jealous agents of a country whose people do not understand the 'beautiful' game.

Blatter's strategy in dealing with corruption has always been to wait out and ride out every scandal, cover it in a blancmange of committees, reports, commissions and noble sounding panels, and then wait for the game's popularity to once again overshadow their venality. Because the game is venal from pitch to boardroom, built on cheating, corruption, and the domination of money, this will succeed, assuming the US & Swiss prosecutors don't cut through legal machinations, extraditions, and red tape and get straight to the heart of the matter, which they won't. The US investigation will be characterised as a local problem of Western Hemisphere's corruption, the corrupt bidding and elections as Africa's and Sepp will emerge to continue into his 80s as the capo di tutti capi, clean and shining like a dirty piece of schist.

1 comment :

Matt said...

Great read Mike, as ever. I have never liked Sepp Blatter, but this whole corruption scandal to me has been about US govt targeting Russia in another cheap shot as they can't stand the idea of a great footballing nation hosting the World Cup. I hope Blatter gets back in because I know that when the FBI starts its investigation, 'anonymous' will conveniently find 'evidence' and then they'll lobby hard for Russia to be stripped of the competition, a country that has surprisingly never hosted the World Cup. Forgive me that I can't remember the FBI spokesman at the press conference last week, but his use of the terms 'no one is above the law' and that the alleged corruption 'touched our shores' made me choke on my skinny latte. In fact, where better to do such deals than the home of corruption. Amazing that U.S and UK kicking up a stink about corruption, the irony is beyond believable. But what does Dave the Dude know, being a hardened West Ham/Aston Villa fan. The corporation is hell bent on assassinating the character of anyone who has close relations to Moscow, first Yanukovic, now Blatter. There's no good reason a footballing nation like Russia could not hold the World Cup. The fact that 1,200 have already died building Qatar 2022 makes it manifest that we should hold the tournament there at least that their lives have some meaning and a tribute to their sacrifice. Just as the G7 meeting proved this club of leaders represent a decaying narrative and they are trying to cling on to the dying vestiges by trying to stop countries who don't play to their tune having any success or holding prestigious events such as this. Blatter is a Swiss national, so what the hell has it got to do with the FBI? Making it even worse the spokesperson in Washington even dropped a few football puns into his announcent. I'm no fan of FIFA's behaviour or that alleged to Mr Blatter, but the rise of sporting events being used as a diplomatic weapon or potential sanction is far worse and something many people can't see is happening. Sport is the one thing the maligned 99% of us in this world have left. As Russell Brand brilliantly surmised the FBI's issue here, 'we're against and will fight corruption that we aren't in on or have no control of'. Says it all. 2018 is going to be great, in a hugely friendly European country and any excuse to visit the wonderful St Petersburg for me is a blessing!