The monumental arrogance, the perverse secrecy, with which the German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert announced that the Michael Garcia report on World Cup corruption over the 2018 and 2022 competitions would be kept under wraps, quite takes the breath away.
There were fears, it is true, that Garcia’s £6 million, 350 page report, backed by 200,000 pages of evidence, might not be released; but Garcia himself is properly incensed by the grotesque decision.
Eckert insists that not even Blatter, who might have known perfectly well that such secrecy would be imposed when FIFA commissioned the report, will be allowed to see it. Which seems not only perverse but quite daft, though in the circumstances, Blatter may not be too displeased.
That Garcia apparently believes that as there was so much dirty work at the crossroads, to put it bluntly, on the part of bidding countries as to obviate the need to punish Russia and or Qatar makes similarly little sense. As if a murder suspect could not be condemned because other murders had been committed in and around his own atrocity.
Are there faint shafts of light? Perhaps. A Swiss parliamentarian Roland Buchel has suggested that FIFA could lose its tax advantage in Switzerland if it does not reform declaring, “They have been talking now for three years about transparency, and they are simply not doing it. They talk about ethics but don’t take any action.”
There is even talk of the Serious Fraud Office in Britain becoming involved and presumably demanding access to the report.
A report which it has to be said as one has said before cannot itself be remotely comprehensive in that as we know Blatter and company had insisted– for no obvious reasons, given the time scale – that it be completed before the 2014 World Cup began.
Meaning that the massive Sunday Times investigation which blew the case wide open, involving literally millions of e-mails came too late to be included, arguably invalidating the Garcia probe, irrespective of what it dug up.
Meanwhile, don’t wait for any kind of lead from the inept Michel Platini who should be going in with all guns blazing on behalf of UEFA for which alas he is the President. A fat lot of good that has done so far.
He had made a dog’s dinner of two competitions, first the so-called Europa Cup, and now the European Championship which has not only been grotesquely enlarged, Blatter and Havelange style, but has now had to be spread around Europe because Platini was too slow and indecisive to give the finals to Turkey.
We already know what an idiot he has made of himself by threatening under some obscure FIFA ruling which obliged players picked by their country to play whether they want to or not. Tell that to Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.
Not to mention the affair of the watch, the £16,400 watch given by the makers Parmigiani to every member of the FIFA executive committee in Brazil though FIFA rules explicitly state that members of that body can accept only gifts of negligible value.
Several wise and honest members of the group instantly set about giving their watches back, but Platini and FA Chairman Greg Dyke brought theirs home with them. Not realising, Dyke insisted that such a watch was in his unpacked gift bag. He has duly returned it but Platini, who’s presumably paid the French import tax on it, has kept his and given the relevant amount to charity.
That excellent investigator David Walsh, my colleague on the Sunday Times, has called for Dyke to resign. Certainly if he did he would be no great loss, concocting as he does committees with vague and unconvincing missions to regenerate English football. Besides failing in his official function to attend two England games at Wembley. Plus crudely and crassly, however prophetically, drawing his finger across his throat at the World Cup draw in Brazil when the group draw for England was made.
Dyke, ex top man at the BBC, has a multiplicity of imposing appointments, so you wonder why he bothered to take the FA Chairmanship at all. Not that there is anybody else really in sight. Perhaps we should remember the lines of Hillaire Belloc:
Always keep a hold of nurse
For fear of finding something worse.
It’s always fascinating to see a previously obscure player suddenly confound the odds by suddenly belatedly and dramatically breaking through at a relatively advanced age.
Now, at 27, Jamie Vardy has routed Manchester United. So much for having to start with a big club at 10 or 12 years old.