There is a temptation to believe that Sepp Blatter’s grand plan to reform and clean up FIFA is being guided by priciples of the chaos theory. How else can one make any sense of the now-you-see-him-now-you-don’t farrago surrounding Issa Hayatou?
Here is a man who, if any time-limit controls existed, would no longer be a focus for controversy. The 65-year-old Cameroonian has been president of the African confederation for 24 years and a member of the FIFA executive committee for 21 years. He has also been a member of that self-perpetuating IOC elite since 2001.
Every now and again there are rumblings within Africa that Hayatou should stand aside. But he plays off skilfully the various regional rivalries and thus remains in power without serious challenge. Danny Jordaan had been suggested as a possible future CAF president in the wake of South Africa’s World Cup staging but, in the event, forces conspired to prevent him even reaching the CAF executive.
Hayatou stood for the FIFA presidency in 2002, encouraged by anti-Blatter forces within UEFA. In the event he was beaten out of sight which was a salutary failure considering the way the roof was falling in on Blatter at the time (and not, of course, for the only time).
Anyone who sticks around for long enough – or too long – risks being tarred with the sins of long ago and thus it has proved with Hayatou.
Last autumn he was named by BBC’s Panorama programme as one of the FIFA executive members – along with Ricardo Teixeira and Nicolas Leoz – who had received unexplained sums from ISL (FIFA’s collapsed former marketing partner).
The IOC launched an inquiry which appears to have been somewhat hampered by delicate discussions with the BBC over the terms under which the corporation had been prepared to release its evidence.
FIFA – no surprise here – sat on its hands, proclaimed that it had long ago reached a confidential settlement of ISL court case which prevented it from revisiting any of the issues.
Later it was also alleged, in evidence to the British parliament’s football governance inquiry, that Hayatou had been among three African officials to have received monies from the Qatar World Cup bid team. These allegations were later withdrawn by their originator who claimed she had acted out of malice towards the Qataris.
No surprise then that the media’s FIFA-watchers went ballistic when CAF announced earlier this week that Hayatou had been appointed by FIFA to succeed South Korea’s Chung Mong-joon as chairman of the Olympic football committee and to succeed disgraced Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam as head of the GOAL bureau which hands out politically sensitive development grants.
Jumping-the-gun announcements amid African football are nothing new. Earlier this year hasty denials had to be rushed out after statements that South Africa would take over the hosting the 2013 Cup of Nations from Libya.
Yesterday evening FIFA did the same – issuing a clarification that the appointments of chairmen of the standing committees had yet to be decided and/or ratified.
FIFA’s later statement read: “Due to a technical error, appointments for FIFA Standing Committees have appeared on the FIFA website. The appointments for the chairman and deputy chairman of the FIFA standing committees will be communicated in due course. Therefore, Issa Hayatou has not been appointed as chairman of the Organising Committee for the Olympic Football Tournaments.”
Interestingly the statement did not mention the GOAL position but the role is empty for anyone checking the FIFA website.
An IOC spokesman says: “The IOC ethics commission is independent but my understanding is that the investigation is still continuing.”
Chaos rules, indeed.