The dark shadow over FIFA and the Qatar World Cup scandal has deepened ominously with the latest Sunday Times revelation that a devastating report by a South African police officer about the dangers of terrorism has blithely been ignored and seemingly obscured by the deeply suspect voting committee; and FIFA overall itself.
Andre Pruis was in charge of security at his own country’s 2010 tournament. Subsequently he was made the security consultant in Brazil. He has warned that both players and supporters in Qatar would be in danger of a major terrorist outrage. All the more so one assumed with the latest outbreak of murderous activity in Iraq by ruthless insurgents.
An outrage which he warns would close down the tournament. He has given precise details of the sites which would be vulnerable. And his report was presented 17 days before Qatar won the vote.
“Qatar,” he has declared, “is allocated a risk rating of high. I am of the view that it would be very difficult to deal with a major incident in such an environment without having to cancel the event.”
It is almost beyond comprehension that the cynicism of those casting the vote, their implicit greed and venality, should still have allowed them to vote Qatar the 2020 World Cup. Not to mention the subsequent passivity of FIFA overall, when that report, only now exhumed, was in their possession.
Quite clearly it would not be deeply irresponsible for any association or federation to commit its teams to playing in Qatar when such dangers are threatening. Could there be a worse and more specified example of the shocking corruption with which FIFA is imbued? While Blatter cries “Racism.”
What you may wonder, does Franz Beckenbauer think of all this; and what did he think at the time that he and others had to cast their vote? It is at least some small compensation that having initially refused to be invigilated by Michael Garcia’s inquiry, such as it is, and handed a 90 day suspension in consequences, he has now graciously if belatedly agreed to be invigilated.
Alas there is already evidence that Beckenbauer has had contacts, even hospitality in Qatar, with the notorious Bin Hammam, whose connection with the Qatari football authority, strenuously denied, now appears irrefutable.
For one such as myself who has long known, liked and admired Beckenbauer, a salient and splendidly influential player in his distinguished day, and an impressive national team manager, the shock and sheer disappointment are enormous.
He is already on record as having said he saw nothing against giving the World Cup to Qatar. And it is just as depressing to know, though he has never concealed the fact, that another giant of the playing past Michel Platini not only voted for Qatar to hold the tournament in the 50 degree Fahrenheit heat of their summer, but also to switch it to the winter to the enormous detriment of the European clubs whose interests he as the President of UEFA is supposed to guard.
That there is no future at all for FIFA as a current body is all too evident yet with the likes of Platini and Beckenbauer looking like broken reeds, where can we possibly go from here?
In this context, it is almost a triviality that, as we now learn, the FA World Cup seeking 2018 group under the flaccid Andy Anson should have shelled out £34,000 to entertain the then CONCACAF chief, the appalling Jack Warner and his Caribbean crew at a function.
The truth is that neither Andy Anson or anybody else could conceivably have won the 2018 tournament for England. As we, alas, know England, with so strong a case, received a single vote, bar its own.
But that Anson and company should not have seen through Warner for the grasping crook he unquestionably is given the abundant chapter and verse provided by the investigating journalist Andrew Jennings in his book Foul! passes belief. But as we know, Warner received the fawning obeisance even of Prime Minister David Cameron and the put upon Prince William.
Speaking of much lesser matters, one has to have sympathy for poor, derided Phil Neville after his wretched, inept and sonorous co-commentary on the England-Italy game. In all the obloquy which has been heaped on the poor, struggling fellow, only the broadcaster Danny Baker has so far as I have seen pointed out that the real blame lies with the inept and incompetent BBC sports authorities who appointed him. These surely are the people who should be named and shamed. Official attempts to mitigate the justified criticism of his performance merely add fuel, to the flames.
Yet despite the clouds which hang deeply over FIFA and its World Cup reprobates, the competition itself has so far been an often exhilarating one.
True, inept and seemingly partial refereeing blemished Brazil’s opening win over Croatia. But the Dutch crushing 5-1 on a supposedly exemplary Spain shows yet again that there is nothing immutable in football.
So-called Total Football sparked with the Dutch and West Germans then gradually faded. (In passing, what you might call the curse of Bayern has fallen on the once exuberant right-winger and more recently President Uli Hoeness, imprisoned for massive peculation.)
The all-conquering Hungarians of the 1960s are a distant memory. And now, the end of tippy tappy reduced to a mere myth.