So it seems the dirt may have hit the FIFA fan at long last. Both the ineffable Jack Warner and Qatar’s outrageous World Cup bid appear to be bang to rights: though whether FIFA will do anything about it, or about Russia’s successful bid to stage the 2022 World Cup remains to be seen. After all, against a growing and alarming evidence, FIFA initially decreed that Qatar had no case to answer.
That it has taken so long to unmask the shameful, indeed shameless, iniquities of Jack Warner has been a horribly indicative tale in itself. True he was cut adrift from Sepp Blatter when backing Mohammed Bin Hammam for the FIFA presidency, but as Andrew Jennings devastating book FOUL! So plainly and searingly demonstrated, Blatter for years treated Warner as a fond friend – read the correspondence – and gave him pretty much whatever he wanted, needing those CONCACAF votes. The game did seem to be up when Warner was caught offering money to Caribbean representatives inducing them to vote for Bin Hammam rather than Blatter. That forced Warner to resigns his posts in June 2011 but worse was yet to come: and so it has.
Meanwhlle, one remembers with horror and embarrassment when our own Establishment, and not only the FA’s World Cup bidders, grovelled to Warner as the time drew closer to voting on the World Cup venues.
Heaves above We ushered into 10 Downing Street to meet David Cameron, while the hapless Prince William was reduced to conciliating him on the eve of the vote in Switzerland.
We all know about Blatter, but where does this all put Michel Platini who all along has backed the absurd World Cup claims of that putrescent little country and has even, in his role of UEFA president, supported the absurd idea of playing the World Cup in the European winter to avoid Qatar’s appalling summer heat?
I am sure Platini has acted throughout with total integrity: the charge is that he acted with utter stupidity. Meanwhile, no doubt poor devils of immigrant labour will continue to plunge and die as they work on Qatar’s World Cup stadia.
Yet again one must describe FIFA as an Augean stables: but alas with no Hercules in sight to clean out the manure.
Can Qatar now be ruled out of the reckoning? And of come to that, what of the successful bid by endemically racist Russia, whose bigotry in football makes FIFA claims of driving out racism farcical?
And of course Warner went back on his promise to vote for England’s doomed bid.
Last Saturday I was at Queens Park Rangers where they and their opponents Yeovil Town celebrated the career of the man who managed them both, the late Alec Stock.
It was for Yeovil in 1949 on their steeply sloping pitch that Stock, as the player-manager of the non-league side, inspired a sensational FA Cup victory over mighty Sunderland.
On the books of several London clubs including Spurs and Charlton before the war, Stock fought in it and was wounded as a tank captain.
Though he had 9 years in charge of QPR, which included the spectacular winning of the League Cup final at Wembley in 1967, when QPR were a 3rd division team and their opponents West Bromwich Albion graced the 1st division, he will arguably be better remembered for his ten resilient years at Leyton Orient. From whom Roma briefly prized him away in 1957.
I knew all about that since it was I who one summer’s day was approached by Orient’s chief scout Sid Hobbins, once a Charlton goalkeeper, who asked me after much obfuscation, whether I could help stock go to manage in Italy. Accordingly, I spoke to Gigi Peronace, the little Calabrian player agent whose greatest coup was to take John Charles from Leeds to Juventus. We consorted in Green Park, Gigi set the wheels in motion and it turned into battle between two sharply contrasting figures.
Pompous Renato Sacerdoti of Roma, ebullient, ever agreeable, Harry Zussman, the shoe manufacturer who presided over Orient. In the end, after much toing and froing, it was Roma who won. Stock went, but he didn’t last long.
There were schemers on the Roma board and when Stock, thanks to an inept interpreter, missed the team’s train to Naples, and found on arrival that it had been picked without him, he refused to sit on the bench and was sacked!
Back to Orient he went, but there was later an unhappy episode at Arsenal, who brought him in because they felt Tom Whittaker, the manager, was losing command. Accordingly, Alec gathered the players together and told them to their horror that 20 of them would be away at the end of the season. Noting that the goalie Jack Kelsey and skipper Dennis Evans were both smoking, he gave the young right-winger Danny Clapton an ashtray and told him to instruct both men to put out their cigarettes. They taped their ash into the ashtray and continued smoking.
Hard, though, to forget coming away from Wembley in the QPR coach after that famous victory, with the players singing so joyfully. It was a triumph for Stock who also of course managed Luton and Fulham. But it was arguably at Orient, whom he took from obscurity to the 1st division, that he enjoyed his finest years.