Blatter alas still rules, impervious as his ghastly predecessor and mentor Joao Havelange. The seeking heir apparent, Michel Platini, however great a player he may have been, looks more and more like a disastrous heir.
Even if there is not a hint of chicanery remotely around him. We know that he inexplicably supported Qatar as the inexplicable choice for the 2022 World Cup. We know that his ludicrous plans to revise or destroy the European Nations Championship spreading the venues far and wide. We can say, as a shrewd German journalist once said of Blatter, that he has a plethora of new ideas every day and that all of them are bad. It was also reported that he was delighted to see Qatari money buy up Paris Saint Germain. And now we have the top FIFA executive Jerome Valcke announcing that the Platini plan on holding the Qatar World Cup in the European winter thereby utterly confusing and undermining the club programme of the major European countries could well be implemented.
Could this be the same Jerome Valcke who, not so long ago, was branded a liar by a contemptuous woman judge in a New York court? When together with the corpulent Chuck Blazer of FIFA he tried to overturn FIFA’s World Cup contract with MasterCard in favour of VISA? The Valcke who on his return to Zurich was very briefly suspended by FIFA only to re-emerge like a butterfly from its chrysalis as lieutenant to Blatter? And now we have, a good deal lower down the scale it is true, Jeffery Webb. No, I had never heard of him, either.
But FIFA have put him in charge of what is laughingly known as their anti-racism programme. Which has not stopped them awarding the 2018 World Cup to a country whose football is permeated and poisoned by racism: Russia. The country where Peter Odemwingie was forced out of Lokomotiv Moscow by fans who, when the Nigerian ultimately left for West Bromwich Albion, put up a derisory banner complete with the inevitable banana, thanking WBA for taking him. The country where, by his own admission, that highly experienced coach Holland’s Dick Advocaat, has admitted that he never dared to sign a black player.
Now Mr Webb, in an empty and self serving gesture, has announced that he wishes to visit the four figures involved in the recent English racism controversies, John Terry of Chelsea, Anton Ferdinand ex QPR, Luis Suarez of Liverpool and Patrice Evra of Manchester United; that is to say, offenders and victims alike. What can the self-indulgent fellow possibly achieve? Why doesn’t he take a trip to Russia, or even to Italy where Mario Balotelli’s return to Milan though not to Inter, resulted on the recent occasion of the city derby in a barrage of insults from his former Inter fans, bananas it seems and all. Where Juventus fans chanted the vindictive chorus. “If we jump up and down, Balotelli will die”?
Or take a trip to little Busto Arsizio, home of Pro Patria, a brave element in Serie A in the 1940s, now reduced to deep obscurity. Not long ago, when Milan played a friendly there the racist abuse of Kevin Prince Boateng caused him to walk off the field, followed by the rest of the Milan team.
Will Arsenal be taken over, by the billion dollar Middle Eastern bidders, who want to pour vast sums of money into the club; a policy deplored by the club’s fans when employed by Chelsea and Manchester City? But Stan Kroenke seems to be standing firm. Good for him, but you do wonder why. He is hardly ever at The Emirates.
The defects of great men, wrote the celebrated Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, “are the consolation of dunces.” Though Manchester United fans are unlikely to console themselves for Sir Alex Ferguson’s indefensible blunder of omitting Wayne Rooney till far too late. What could have possessed him.