American courts have succeeded where Europeans were too scared to act
Shame on FIFA, shame on UEFA, shame on the various ruling European football bodies, not least our own FA. But what more alas could be expected from them when you remember that the appallingly greedy corrupt Joao Havelange reigned as FIFA President from 1974 to 1998 virtually unchallenged.
All credit meanwhile to American justice which, even though the USA is something of a peripheral phenomenon in world football, has had the guts, the legal drive and the persistence to bring corrupt villains to trial and now to justice.
Credit too to my own newspaper, the Sunday Times, for pursuing the trail of greed, bribery and perfidy where other British newspapers have sat on their hands.
Inspired by a gifted and inspirational woman leading attorney in New York, Loretta Lynch, a sustained, expensive and deeply complicated investigation has now at last resulted in two of the worst – South American – perpetrators to be indicted, and now confronted with jail sentences of as much as 20 years.
Faced with the abysmal facts which have been made manifest in the course of the investigation and the long trial, followed by six days of consultation by the jury, two leading South American football panjandrums have now been found guilty and committed to long years in prison.
Juan Angel Napout, who is 59 years old, is a Paraguayan, once the head of CONMEBOL, the South American FA and once a FIFA vice-president. He was accused of receiving 10.5 million dollars in bribes and was found guilty on three counts of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.
The 85-year-old Jose Maria Marin of Brazil, once the head of his country’s federation, chairman of the 2014 World Cup organising committee, was accused of pocketing bribes worth 6.5 million dollars and of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.
Manuel Burga of Peru was acquitted.
Over half the FIFA committee which awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and that putrescent little state Qatar, have been charged with criminal offences, banned from football or investigated for misconduct.
It has in parenthesis to be said that Germany and South Africa have also been accused though not indicted of malfeasance in securing the World Cup finals.
Predictably if embarrassingly enough, FIFA themselves have pleaded victimisation. “FIFA strictly supports and encourages the US authorities’ efforts to hold accountable those individuals who abused their positions and corrupted international football for their own personal benefit.” No comment.
Last November, an Argentinian lawyer Jorge Delhon killed himself in Buenos Aires by jumping under a train after being named as taking bribes during court testimony. Who knows where the whole horrid affair will end? Numerous other high officials, holed up in Switzerland, will now one assumes be extradited to the USA and tried. Bravo America!
Arsenal in confusion. Whither Wenger, if at all? Whither Sanchez, whither Ozil, whither Jack Wilshere? Of the three, Wilshere who actually grew up from boyhood at Arsenal, and has now looked thoroughly capable on his belated recall to the top team, is the one who wants to stay. So of course, at least until the moment I write this, he has not been offered a new contract, which seems beyond all logic.
Sanchez, the most talented player in the side, but looking more and more disaffected, wants to leave. Preferably it seems for Manchester City, who would have bought him last close season and now reportedly won’t, or perhaps to PSV.
Ozil, who is suddenly and belatedly playing well again, and exploiting his undoubtedly prodigious talents, is said to have asked for a cool £300,000 a week. Pay him or sell him. Arsenal so far seem unready to match his enormous demands but they run the risk of losing him – or Sanchez for that matter – for nothing, come the summer.
Jose Mourinho had every right to be infuriated with his Manchester United team which gave away that late equaliser at Leicester. Smalling the centre-back was on one leg but the subs had all been used. Mourinho told the United man nearest to him to tell Smalling to move out of defence. Why would an experienced international need to be told? Smalling stayed where he was and, crippled, have away Leicester’s equaliser.
Whatever became of common sense and personal responsibility? Do top millionaire professionals need to be treated like dependent children? In this case, it seems the dire answer is yes.