This Conspiracy Week in the corridors of power of world football. Or, alternatively, straw-clutching week. This is also the week for one decision and the first anniversary of two others. A good time for the rattling of skeletons and phantoms.
Friday this week in Kiev, December 2, will see the draw for the finals of the 2012 European Championship; all seeds and pots and goldfish bowls and the promotional hoop-la without which no sports event, apparently, can survive.
The likelihood is that all will go smoothly. Two of the decisions have been taken already: Poland and Ukraine have been seeded into groups which ensure they will play all their first-round matches on their own soil while the other 14 competitors have been placed in their various seedings segments.
That outcome will be of interest but will raise nothing like the fire and fury generated on the very same date last year when the executive committee of world federation FIFA awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.
The fallout is still, well, falling.
One product was an exacerbation of concern over the lax, if not non-existent, control of the behaviour of some members of the FIFA executive committee.
Two members of the exco (Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii) had been barred before the World Cup votes took place, a further two (Jack Warner and Mohamed Bin Hammam) subsequently vanished for one reason or another and three more (Nicolas Leoz, Ricardo Teixeira and Issa Hayatou) have come under increasing pressure over their financial links to ISL a decade or more ago.
Sepp Blatter, both to maintain his presidency and re-establish a fig-lead of credibility, has been forced into kick-starting reform procedures. Not surprisingly, scepticism exists over how effective a multi-layered committee-fuelled process may prove. Already the dynamic time-scale promised by Blatter at FIFA Congress has been effectively abandoned.
The whingeing and whining over the World Cup votes has yet to die down. British Member of Parliament Damian Collins and Australian football president Frank Lowy continue to cast dark aspersions over the Qatar vote – Lowy as recently as this past weekend when he was re-elected at the head of FFA and sought to suggest dark forces had been unfairly to blame for his most spectacular failure (Ignoring the fact that every other 2022 rival collected more votes than Australia).
In the new spirit of Blatterised transparency, the international media now appears to believe that the ISL paperwork will be thrown wide open for the world by FIFA’s exco in Tokyo shortly. That is to ignore Blatter’s own words about the review procedure: first it’s up to the exco, then it goes to an independent panel, then . . . who knows?
As for Blatter, speculation continues to burble about his own future.
No-one quite believes that he will, as he had said, step down in four years’ time; no-one quite believe that the early favourite, UEFA president Michel Platini, really wants the job; and a weekend whisper from Brazil even suggested that Teixeira, with the support of CAS-rehabilitated Bin Hammam, expected to contest the 2015 presidential election against . . . current secretary-general Jerome Valcke.
Ridiculous nonsense? Maybe. Maybe not.
A few days before the World Cup votes, a year ago this week, how many people predicted that particular win double?
By Keir Radnedge