And you, Platini! Not that the former, scintillating French international can be seen as anything but a completely honest man. But to learn that no only did he vote for Qatar as 2022 World Cup hosts but also endorsed the daft suggestion that because of the heat in that benighted little country, the World Cup there should be played in winter.
Platini the player was a refulgent star, Platini the administrator a potential catastrophe. In charge of UEFA – he says that he has no intention to stand for the Presidency of FIFA â€“ he has burdened the game with his dreary, drawn out and tedious Euro tournament, which forces some already over taxed teams to begin their participation in June when their own season has hardly ended.
That old German word schadenfreude, meaning delight in others misfortunes, is surely appropriate as FIFA falls apart under the sheer weight of scandal. Yet it would hardly be apposite to say let joy be unconfined, even if it is so satisfying to see Chuck Blazer, so long the bosom buddy of the ineffable Jack Warner, suddenly and sensationally turn whistle blower; and turn on Warner. Who, he is on record as having said, could one day be President of FIFA
Why did these two unedifying figures fall out? Perhaps we shall never know. It was not so long ago that Blazer and Jerome Valcke, who has been back pedalling desperately after accusing Qatar of buying votes, were excoriated by a woman judge in a New York court as liars, having tried to deny Mastercard World Cup rights in favour of Visa. Which didn’t stop Valcke, after a brief and meaningless suspension, re-emerging as chief executive at FIFA. In the old Sicilian saying, one hand washes the other. Nobody protested.
Dick Pound, the former senior Olympic figure, is quite right when he says that FIFA needs to be abolished, so we can start again. It was doomed from the day that Joao Havelange, at the Frankfurt Congress of 1974, unseated Rous as FIFA President. And with all his depredations, was allowed passively to stay in office for the next 24 years. As that great philosopher Edmund Burke wrote in the 18the century, for evil to triumph, it is enough for good men to do nothing. And the supposedly good men of Europe, not least our own flaccid Football Association, did nothing at all to disturb Havelange’s shameless hegemony.
In his devastating book, How They Stole The Game, David Yallop quotes Havelange’s former business partner, Dr Lobo, when asked how Havelange found the money to visit 86 countries in his pre-1974 election tour, as saying, “Part of the money came from embezzled funds from the Brazilian Sports Federation.”
As for Blatter, for whom Graham Kelly’s FA so shamefully voted in 1998 after promising to support Sweden’s Lennart Johansson, an equally shocking book, Andrew Jennings’ Foul! relates how voters, among them Africans who’d seemed sure to be in Johansson’s corner, pocketed $50,000 sweeteners, seemingly supplied by none other than the familiar figure of Bin Hammam.
In Trinidad, Warner, so amiably treated and indulged by Sepp Blatter, has made fortunes out of black market World Cup tickets, the latest exposure coming on Jennings’ second Panorama investigation when a German ticket dealer gave chapter and verse on the lucrative deal Warner struck with him by selling him such tickets.
Yet Warner is the man to whom the FA bidding committee and even alas Prime Minister Cameron and Prince William paid obeisance, seeking his World Cup vote.
Which, of course, they didn’t get. In the meantime, Havelange sits among his tarnished wealth in Brazil, while the Russians must be laughing their heads off. Their successful World Cup bid was just as suspect as Qatar’s, even if they are a genuine football power rather than a wretched football minnow. We know that hypocritical FIFA, having for years trumpeted their Kick Out Racism campaign, set it cynically aside when it came to Russia; in whose football racism is horribly endemic, so it goes on; and will so long as FIFA corruptly exists.