As the FIFA Presidential election in May approaches, so we have a flurry of quite meaningless activity involving a clutch of meaningless candidates.
At the Football Association, the confused and confusing Greg Dyke in one of his multiplicity of roles, gives his backing to the multi millionaire Prince Ali of Jordan who doesn’t even have the support of his own Federation.
Jerome Champagne has withdrawn in a huff, but no one took him seriously anyway; he had neither the status nor the finance though he seemed to be indulged by the ineffable Sepp Blatter.
Less serious still was the quickly withdrawn candidacy of David Ginola, backed bizarrely in hard cash by the Paddy Powers bookmaking company, though what they expected to get out of it other than cheap (or rather not so cheap) publicity, who could say?
A serious Dutchman Michael van Praag who would probably be the best candidate of the lot in anything like normal circumstances is as it stands a wholly remote outsider.
Then a very late candidate is the former Portugal, Real Madrid and Barcelona right-winger Luis Figo, who has the endorsement of his compatriot Jose Mourinho. Figo’s reputation as a player remains formidable but it is hard to see any other advantages, other than not being Blatter. And he, before throwing his hat so surprisingly into the ring, had to sever his connection with a betting company.
Even if all these unlikely aspirants got together, pooled their resources and chose one candidate backed by the rest, it seems all too sadly certain that Blatter has already got the election sewn up, with a vast, deluded, or suborned, federations already pledged to vote for him, their snouts all too firmly in the trough.
And what of Michel Platini, disastrous President of UEFA who will certainly not stand perhaps has his eye on the four-year future? Surely he has been utterly discredited by his support for Qatar’s Wold Cup bid, compounded by his outrageous decision to back them even if it means a winter tournament, thereby casting into chaos the plans of the European clubs whom he is supposed to represent. The word being and he has done nothing to deny it since the charge and the evidence were revealed, that he was driven into his untenable position by the then President of France, Sarkozy, who wanted the favours of Qatar.
It is suggested that behind this chaos of candidates is a UEFA wish to destabilise Blatter’s bid for a ludicrous fifth term, though don’t ask me how it could remotely have such an effect.
The insane situation whereby every member of FIFA has the same single vote means that Blatter will always if he so chooses be unassailable. He can buy almost as many votes as he chooses, no matter how many cardboard candidates elect to run against him. Only a mass withdrawal from FIFA of all the chief European countries and, the setting up of a rival body could clean up this rancid game; and whenever is that going to happen?
The Premier League are now said to be pursuing Jose Mourinho for missing a couple of Press Conferences before and after the recent Manchester City game.
It has been cogently pointed out that some years back, Alex Ferguson in his defiant arrogance, missed season after season of post match press conferences. Irritated not by anything that BBC sports television – the sufferers – had said or done, but by a programme made by the Panorama series which impugned his son Jason then running the so called Elite Sports Agency. Whether or not it was mandatory at that time for managers to attend such conferences, the contrast remains a stark one.
You may remember the Tim Howard affair involving the talented young keeper – as he was then – who shone so brightly in a French Confederations Cup tournament and joined Manchester United, winning a work permit on appeal thanks it was said to the help of an obscure Italo-Swiss agent who was generously paid for his assistance.
The Sunday Times disclosed that most of the money was passed on to an English agent in Monaco and then to Jason at Elite. But, as I was able to point out, as a frequent member of that Department of Employment appeals four man committee, no agent ever got anywhere near us.
Now Arsene Wenger wants to cut out the appeals process, enabling foreign players to have automatic access. The appeals stage was necessary, in fact, because the criteria whereby such players could or could not be granted entry were so excessively demanding in terms of international appearances that an appeals process was essential. Wenger’s suggestion would surely, as has been pointed out, work alarmingly against young British talent.
In Howard’s case, a special one when it came to goalkeepers, of whom each football team can field only one at a time, his way to the American goal had long been barred by two senior keepers. His form in France made his claims arguably irrefutable.