How ironic that when the super abundant FIFA dirt at long last hit the fan, it should be the USA, still not a major power in football, which should have finally exposed and challenged the appalling corruption which has been synonymous with FIFA for so many years.
The splendid American investigation is said to be going back some twenty years, but it might just as well go back to 1974 when Joao Havelange bought and bribed his way to the Presidency of FIFA at the expense of Stanley Rous. From that moment morality went out of the window.
Yet again one is reminded of the saying of a 17th century English philosopher: “For evil to triumph, it is enough for great men to do nothing.”
And the blunt and brutal fact is that Havelange remained in power virtually unopposed for the next 24 years. The supposedly good men, among them presumably our own British associations, did nothing. They, like the rest of the international authorities were content to see Havelange voted back into power over four corrupt years. It was only a couple of years ago that when at long last impugned with the almost as outrageous Riccardo Teixeira, a fellow Brazilian, that he was at last gently wrapped over the knuckles, deprived of his honorary Presidency of FIFA.
What a meaningless “punishment” after decades of rapacity.
At the time of writing, his successor, Sepp Blatter, controversially elected president in Paris in 1998 when Sweden’s Lennart Johansson seemed high and dry, remains the Teflon figure we have known and distrusted all these tainted years. I don’t doubt that he was right to assume he would be voted back into power again, by all those FIFA members which eternally have their snorts in the trough. The one-man one vote FIFA system makes it all too easy for an autocrat to buy his way into unending power.
Alas, it is difficult for Michel Platini on behalf of UEFA, which he has administered so ineptly, to stand up and be counted. His support of Qatar for the 2020 World Cup flew in the face of all his European duties, and we know that it was the consequence of pressure by the then President of France Sarkozy.
Of a villain such as Jack Warner of Trinidad we have known much to much too long, not least thanks to the investigations of Andrew Jennings of his cosy relationship with a fawning Blatter, who needed his CONCACAF votes. Chuck Blazer, whose corpulence matches his greed, has now turned state’s evidence on him, but the pair of them ran CONCACAF as their private fief for years. And FIFA on occasion were quite happy to use Blazer (denigrated in a New York court over the Mastercard/Visa affair) as an official figure.
Hard indeed to work out the complexities of the alleged $10 million bribe which allegedly brought South Africa the 2010 World Cup and event involved the sainted Nelson Mandela visiting Warner in Trinidad. In terms of logic and morality, it should be inevitable that the World Cups of 2018 and 2020 be taken away from Russia and putrescent little Qatar as the Swiss authorities pursue their inquest.
Needless to say, FIFA have already decreed that things stand as they are, but there is so much more mileage yet. One doesn’t have to be a patriot to believe that England should have been awarded the 2018 tournament when, in the event, they garnered just one vote beside their own, while we had the repugnant spectacle of David Cameron and even Prince William conned into paying court to the appalling Jack Warner.
But at last the Augean Stables have found their American Hercules. However belated, there is some hope of cleansing.