The birds come home to roost, you might say; but all too sadly slowly. Joao Havelange, deep in his dotage, accused of purloining millions from the long defunct ISL: and now so belatedly drummed out of the International Olympic Committee.
The peculation, the perpetrators and the size of it have long been known but under Swiss law, inexplicably and perversely, chapter and verse could not be made known. But now of all things and people it is Sepp Blatter, Havelange’s successor in the FIFA presidency, who has blown the whistle on Havelange and his co-conspirators.
Not a word can be said in defence of Havelange and his greedy depredations of FIFA resources; following his raid on the finances of the Brazilian Football Confederation to bank roll his candidacy for the FIFA Presidency. Except for this. In all those disgraceful, immoral years of his appalling reign, from 1974 to 1998, when in international football did we ever hear a voice raised against him?
It was the great 18th century political philosopher Edmund Burke who said that for evil to triumph, it was enough for good men to do nothing. Good men and not quite so good men among the FIFA countries did nothing at all to stop Havelange returning every four years to use and abuse the FIFA Presidency. He knew all to well whom and how to buy his lap dogs. Yes, he has at least been publicly disgraced but for one who has been a public disgrace for decades this will hardly be a great burden to bear.
Meanwhile Sepp Blatter blatters on, if one may coin the phrase. Now he is wittering and whinging at the nasty English who he moans have been attacking him because they are bad losers, having failed to gain the World Cup for 2018. Fail indeed they did but what chance in the corrupted FIFA set up did they ever have of succeeding? The derogatory single vote, plus their own, they obtained was a slur on FIFA and its profound corrupt process rather than the FA group which had never for a moment had a chance of success, even if they naively spent £21 million pursuing it.
As for Blatter’s empty promises to clean up FIFA, he has hit yet another embarrassing obstacle in the decision of the Transparency International to withdraw from any participation because the Swiss Professor Pleth in his deep wisdom, presiding over the investigation, not only wants to be paid but above all insists that past malfeasance by FIFA won’t be investigated!
And after Blatter, Platini? Or would you rather be shot or hanged? Not the least whiff of corruption attached to the former French star in his fatuous support of Qatar for the 2022 World Cup but now he has piled one idiocy on another in suggesting the tournament be played there not in the roasting heat of its summer but in the winter, thus throwing European club football into chaos.
“It would be nice,” he mindlessly says, “to go in another part of the world, with people who never received the World Cup.”
For the very good reason that this is a country with no football background at all which has all too clearly bought the tournament. Though not I hasten to add Platini who seems to have become what Lenin once called a useful idiot. Even if his plan to restrict the insane spending of the major European clubs deserves to be a success.
But if Platini represents the future of FIFA when Blatter at last goes, abandon hope all yet who enter there. The whole sordid organisation deserved to be swept away, Blatter notably with it. He’ll never be the solution; only the problem.
By Brian Glanville