It looks ominously as if Michel Platini will be the next FIFA President.
Two prominent English executives have just spoken up in his favour. The senior figure at the Football Association, one Martin Glenn, of whom I am ashamed to say that I can tell you nothing, has declared, “Platini would be a great choice. The Football Association will work totally alongside UEFA as we need a common European point of view. It’s too big a sport to be run like it’s being run.”
Amen to that but a great choice? Where has the man been living?
Our main man at FIFA, David Gill, formerly a powerful force at Manchester United, has also giving Platini his blessing.
Platini, who very properly wanted to kick Blatter out right away after he stood down from the presidency, has taken the heat off, enabling him to stay in office till early next year.
Meanwhile Blatter, who stayed away from the women’s World Cup Finals in Canada, possibly because he felt the Feds might get him, has had a cosy little meeting with Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg larding him with praise and receiving a bouquet or two in return himself. Dracula meets the Wolf Man you might say.
When it comes to corruption. FIFA of course is very small fry by comparison with Russia, which not long ago was described by a female American diplomat based there as a mafia land. Certainly no opponent of Blatter’s rotten regime has been done to death in a prison cell after blowing the whistle on a huge fraud by prominent figures.
Though when it comes to comparisons with the Mafia, note the very recent strictures of Richard Blumenthal, a USA senator, who declared FIFA “a mafia style crime syndicate in charge of a sport. The only hesitation in using that term is that it is almost insulting to the Mafia, because the Mafia would never have been so blatant, overt and arrogant in its corruption.”
But Blatter fawned on Putin who, for his part, soothingly told Blatter, “We see what’s happening around football, but I know how you feel about it. We thank you for concentrating your time and attention on football.”
In the old Sicilian saying, one hand washes the other.
As for Platini it is astonishing that these two English figures could possibly endorse him so enthusiastically given his sell out of European football (of which he is surely meant to be the guardian) to the ineffable Qatar.
As we know all too well, Platini voted for Qatar to stage the 2022 World Cup even when that initially meant playing in 50 degrees centigrade of heat; then sold out his European bodies by happily agreeing for the competition to be played during the European winter with all the inevitable chaos.
Platini – a less charge but surely a valid one – has inflicted on the clubs a ludicrously enlarged so-called European championship opened to minuscule clubs from obscure football countries, and expanding the tournament into July.
Nor has his implementation of the so-called Financial Fair Play rules been of any benefit to the lesser rather than the greater clubs.
Reverting to Russia, the sheer hypocrisy of FIFA in allotting the World Cup to a country whose football is steeped in racism would take the breath away were it not just one more aspect of FIFA’s malfeasance.
It was especially and horribly significant that almost contemporaneously with the ceremony of the World Cup draw, two peculiarly abysmal examples of such racism should be reported. Emmanuel Frimpong, the former Arsenal midfielder, was despicably barracked with monkey noises playing for his provincial club against Spartak Moscow.
In the event, the Russian football authority not only took no action at all against the Spartak bigot but actually suspended an outraged Frimpong for a couple of games for responding to them with a finger salute. As he himself admitted, he probably deserved his own punishment, but he was understandably incensed that the Spartak hooligans had gone unpunished.
Hot on the heels of this scandal came the Hulk affair. The big Brazilian striker had somewhat unwisely agreed to sign for Zenit St Petersburg, notorious for their racism. So much so that when Dick Advocaat now at Sunderland had managed them he says he had never dared to sign a black player. Hulk has said that he is constantly subjected to racist insults.
He was supposed to participate in the World Cup draw but withdrew. It was crass and evasive of the current Zenit manager our old friend Andre Villas-Boas to state that Hulk was needed for a subsequent League game.
FIFA’s supposed anti-racism campaign is more than ever a bad joke. As for Martin Glenn who like David Gill didn’t attend the draw, it was surely far out of order for him to declare that not deciding whether to keep Roy Hodgson in England office till after the coming European finals could act as an incentive to him. Though I think the decision is logical enough, this was appallingly gratuitous and patronising.