Fallen idols. How bitterly sad to see both Franz Beckenbauer and Michel Platini accused of being induced in one depressing way or another for support in Qatar’s deeply corrupt and squalidly successful bid for the 2020 World Cup.
That Platini had voted for Qatar, in his role as President of UEFA, had long puzzled me. An action compounded when he inexplicably against all possible logic proceeded to support the policy of moving the tournament from the Qatar summer, with its shocking temperatures of 50 degrees centigrade to the winter. With all the concomitant disruption of the League, Cup and European Champions Cup fixtures of the very clubs which Platini was meant to represent.
Now we are told, after the latest devastating revelations in the Sunday Times, that in all probability Platini had been leaned on by the then President of France, the devious Nicolas Sarkozy. Who according to a damning intelligence report put huge pressure on Platini to support Qatar in the supposed commercial interests of France.
But such pressures from a politician could and surely should have been resisted, given Platini’s moral obligations towards UEFA’s members.
As for Beckenbauer, it had already been documented that he had held a number of meetings with the millionaire Qatari fixer Mohammed Bin Hammam – who is so spuriously and unconvincingly officially denied by the Qatari hierarchy of having anything to do with them.
Beckenbauer, reportedly at Bin Hammam’s expense, had even been to visit Qatar. Originally refusing to be interviewed by Michael Garcia, and consequently put under a form of suspension, Beckenbauer then changed his mind and agreed to testify.
At present Beckenbauer who denied all such charges is according to his spokesman “…Unable to make any statements or give any interviews regarding the topics 2018 and 2020 World Cup bidding while the proceedings are still pending.”
But the sensational so-called database compiled in secret by the so-called “inter sanctum” of the English 2018 bid is now revealed by the newspaper, which has submitted to the investigating Parliamentary committee, with potentially devastating consequences.
In the submission there is shocking accusation linking Beckenbauer himself with two football consultants Andreas Abold and Fedor Radman who are alleged to have told “a number of bids,” that his support could be acquired for a “a multi million pound fee.” The two men deny the charge.
A member of the England bid is quoted in the submission as describing Beckenbauer as “the most corrupt of the lot” and supposedly “completely in on the Russian bid.”
For me, personally, this has come as a stunning surprise, as no doubt it will for football followers at large and not only in Germany. I have known, liked and as a player admired Beckenbauer since 1968 when I met him at Hanover airport, the day after his deflected shot had given Germany their first ever win over England.
We were introduced by Horst Dasgler, the main man in the adidas sports goods company, later himself to be accused of multifarious corruption involving the ISL communications company. “
This is Brian Glanville of the Sunday Times,” he said, to which Beckenbauer responded, “Mein, nein, nein! Der Profi: the best book on football ever written.”
Der Profi being the title given to the German edition of my novel about a footballer, “The Rise of Gerry Logan.”
Since then I have long had friendly relations with him, admiring him greatly as a player not least as the precocious inventor with Bayern Munich of the attacking libero, leading to the development in Germany and Holland of so-called Total Football.
That he should now be involved in so sordid an affair is profoundly disappointing, infinitely worse if true than the alleged behaviour of Michel Platini whose support of Qatar would, if reports be true, derive from a lack of moral fibre rather than any desire for personal gain.
Yet the damage to football wrought by the alleged lapses of two of its most iconic figures can hardly be calculated. Not to mention the accusations in the database of a plethora of other allegations involving Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Belgium, Thailand, even England accused of a deal to swap votes on 2018 with South Korea, who duly defaulted.
Will Brentford, long ago nicknamed The Sleeping Giant, awake at last?
It is 67 years since, on a June Saturday they lost 1-0 on their Griffin Park ground to Arsenal, whose “bogey team” they had long been, and thus slipped out of a top division which they have never regained.
In their Second Division years, that nickname was applied to them but somehow they never woke up and in time slipped down the divisions.
I still have especially vivid memories of seeing them as a ten-year-old at Wembley win the only major title of their 125 years existence. Ironically it was one which doesn’t even appear in their records as it came in 1942 when football was officially suspended.
But it was a splendid triumph in the London War Cup against a Portsmouth team which included eleven players who’d won the FA Cup in 1939. Two goals by a gifted “local” left-winger Leslie Smith, an England cap, won the Bees their only trophy in front of a near 70,000 crowd at Wembley.