Would you rather be shot or hanged? In the last analysis I don’t really suppose it will matter very much which of the two leading unappealing candidates for the FIFA presidency will be selected.
The litigious Sheikh Salman of Bahrain who seems to have things sewn up, or the Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino who wants to have a 40 team World Cup and was much too close to the disgraced Michel Platini to engender any confidence.
The Sheikh insists that stories, not least propagated at by a third unsuccessful candidate – for the second time – Prince Ali of Jordan – that he was involved in the maltreatment of Bahrain footballers opposed to the regime – are without foundation.
Could anyone be worse than Joao Havelange who scandalously and corruptly stayed in office for 28 years? Or than the devious Sepp Blatter? FIFA is surely an organisation that is beyond redemption.
When in 1904 one of its French founders came to London to ask the Football Association to join it, and was received by the formidable Chairman Lord Kinnaird, he said it was “like beating the air.” In time of course the British associations did join but pulled out in the 1920s over the matter of “broken time” payments to amateurs.
It wasn’t till after the Second World War that Stanley Rous as FA Secretary got them back in again. Where every country big or small has a single vote, where South America seethes with corruption, there is little or nothing to be done.
Yet again one must recall the shocking passivity of even our own British associations during the ghastly Havelange years when he simply strolled back into office every four years.
And Blatter was ejected only thanks to the fact that the American authorities stepped in. Untouched even by the devastating revelations by my resourceful colleagues on the Sunday Times, who had sifted through an infinity of damning emails.