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Tuesday, June 21, 2011


The world of football is a slightly less grimy place tonight after Jack Walker's resignation from the posts of FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF president. In response, FIFA issued the following statement, one which is bound to illicit emotions among football fans ranging from swinging on the chandeliers with a glass of champagne in one's hand right through to downright incredulity, if not contempt:

"Jack A. Warner has informed FIFA about his resignation from his posts in international football. FIFA regrets the turn of events that have led to Mr Warner’s decision. His resignation has been accepted by world football’s governing body, and his contribution to international football and to Caribbean football in particular and the CONCACAF confederation are appreciated and acknowledged.

"Mr Warner is leaving FIFA by his own volition after nearly 30 years of service, having chosen to focus on his important work on behalf of the people and government of Trinidad and Tobago as a Cabinet Minister and as the Chairman of the United National Congress, the major party in his country’s coalition government. The FIFA Executive Committee, the FIFA President and the FIFA management thank Mr Warner for his services to Caribbean, CONCACAF and international football over his many years devoted to football at both regional and international level, and wish him well for the future. As a consequence of Mr Warner’s self-determined resignation, all Ethics Committee procedures against him have been closed and the presumption of innocence is maintained."

The corks will be popping because Walker has upped sticks; the incredulity comes from FIFA's Ethics Committee closing the case against him and the organisation presuming that Walker's "innocence is maintained." Although Walker has left FIFA under a cloud, at the end of the day, the prediction made on this blog has, for the most part, come true, thanks to the above statement: there has been a FIFA whitewash, of Sepp Blatter first of all, and now of Walker.

Walker himself issued a statement later in the afternoon which read:  "This decision is by my own volition and self-determination; albeit it comes during the sequel to the contentious Mohamed bin Hammam meeting in Port of Spain in May with CFU Delegates.

"I am convinced, and I am advised by counsel, that since my actions did not extend beyond facilitating the meeting that gave Mr Bin Hammam an opportunity to pursue his aborted bid for the FIFA presidency, I would be fully exonerated by any objective arbiter.

"I have, nonetheless, arrived at the decision to withdraw from FIFA affairs in order to spare FIFA, CONCACAF and, in particular, [the] CFU (Caribbean Football Union) and its membership, from further acrimony and divisiveness arising from this and related issues."

A noble act of sacrifice, indeed. Or, maybe he realised that time may well have been running out for him in all three organisations. He also decided to take aim at his former CONCACAF general-secretary/vice-president, Chuck Blazer, who had originally released an e-mail claiming that Walker, AFC president Mohammed Bin Hammam, and two CFU employees, had been giving delegates at the CFU Congress in May gifts of cash reputed to be of the value of $40,000 to every delegate, along with a lap-top.

According to The Guardian, he said this on Bloomberg: '"I have lost my enthusiasm to continue..The general secretary [Blazer] that I had employed, who worked with me for 21 years, with the assistance of elements of Fifa has sought to undermine me in ways that are unimaginable." Blazer did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment. In a previous interview he said it was his duty to report wrongdoing.'

'Warner lifted the lid on a cosy culture of gifts and financial favours at FIFA. "It's not unusual for such things to happen and gifts have been around throughout the history of FIFA," Warner said. "What's happening now for me is hypocrisy."

'This, said Warner, is why he has quit football. "I've been hung out to dry continually and I'm not prepared to take that."' (Are the last couple of quoted paragraphs the "tsunami" he was talking about a couple of weeks ago?)

He's a generous man, is our Jack, and not just to his footballing cronies, but back home in T&T as well. Apparently, he was reported handing out stationery to "hundreds" of schoolchildren and other gifts to a large number of his constituents during a tour of his constituency just over a fortnight ago. There is a lesson for us all there; we must all think of the little children. We must!

Nothing to do with bribery or buying votes; oh no. Jack is a kind and generous man, one of life's altruists. However, several of the Trinidad and Tobago 2006 World Cup squad still haven't received their bonuses; after a long and protracted fight, those who did had to settle for a much smaller amount of money than they were originally promised by Walker and the rest of the controlling body of T&T football.

To find out more on the man they call "Teflon Jack", and the interesting footballing life he has led, please click on the below link to an article shown on Trinidad and Tobago's Guardian Online website:

Not only that, but apparently Walker had something to say regarding allegations made concerning Sasha Mohammed, an adviser to Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister. Walker is the country's Minister for  Works and Transport. The same website reported it thus:

Both articles make interesting reading, and are an intriguing insight into the man and his workings.

Right, now that Walker has slunk off, what of Mohammed Bin Hammam? Now that the FIFA Ethics Committee have binned the case against Walker, will they now proceed with their investigation against the Qatari head of the AFC? They may well do; on the other hand, they might also decide that it would not be worthwhile continuing their inquiries into Bin Hammam's alleged behaviour.

It could all depend on whether Bin Hammam follows Walker's lead and resigns from the top spot in the AFC hierarchy. He might even keep his job (after some behind-the-scenes manoeuvring) if some sort of "arrangement" was to be made that he would not challenge Blatter in the future for the post of FIFA president. This may well run and run. It's all very hypothetical; the immediate future will be very interesting indeed. We may still hear more of the man from Trinidad, but the Walker era in CONCACAF has come to an end, at least for now (albeit it by his committing football suicide), and that is a reason for every honest football fan to rejoice, hang out the flags and go to bed happy tonight.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


There has been much discussion and debate in the world of football over the game's future, and over corruption and so on, since the draws for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were made earlier this year. A large percentage of the discussions have emanated from England, originating in the tabloids and on the internet, then spreading to TV and radio. (This is my take on it all; it may become a little long-winded, but I'll get there in the end.)

Folowing the decision of FIFA's Executive Committee to award of the 2018 edition to Russia and the 2022 version to Qatar, there was a huge outcry in England, but also criticism from several other quarters, most notably sporting bodies, government and the media in Australia, and also in the USA. Scorn was also poured on the decision from many in Holland, Belgium and Spain.

Over the course of the last few months, many articles in the English-based press focused of how those involved with English football could exact revenge on FIFA for overlooking England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup, and also on the possibility of the FA leaving FIFA and setting up a rival organisation, which would perhaps involve countries such as the USA, Australia, Spain, Germany and France.

When the decision was made in January to award Russia and Qatar the 2018 and 2022 versions of the World Cup, there was a knee-jerk reaction to the decision from media, the general public and bloggers alike, calling for the FA to withdraw from FIFA. A great deal of the general public, both inside and outside England, were incredulous as to how Qatar were awarded the 2022 World Cup while England were nowhere to be seen. The answer to this is simple; England sought to host the 2018 version and were therefore ineligible to bid for hosting rights for the 2022 version.

Australia and the USA were among the other bidders for the 2022 World Cup; reaction from both quarters was both swift and condemnatory. Indeed, one Australian senator has called for the Australian government to sue FIFA for the AUS$46 million that Soccer Australia spent on the bid to bring the World Cup Down Under.

Russia won the bid for the 2018 World Cup; a lot of press and pundits have claimed that the FA had made the best bid and that FIFA's Technical Comittee had agreed with this assertion, while Russia's bid was the worst out of all of those presented, which, apart from that put forward by England, also included joint presentations from Belgium and Holland, and from Spain and Portugal. It could be argued that the English bid plus the joint bids from (two-thirds of) the Benelux countries (with this proposal including the intention that Luxembourg would also undertake a special role) and the two countries sharing the Iberian Peninsula were much better than what was being proposed by the Russians.

After all, each of these countries has it all; a veritable footballing history, sufficient numbers of high-quality stadia, the transport infrastructures and more than enough room to accommodate any number of travelling fans from all over the world at affordable prices. Russia, on the other hand, is, in comparison, lacking in football history and culture, has an infrastructure which is still under-developed, the stadia are also, as a whole, under-developed, and as for accommodating the travelling masses..

Where will the Russians put them all, and especially when it comes to Moscow, the most expensive city in the world, where a shortage of hotel-rooms (especially in the cheap to mid-price range) and crazy prices for just about anything that anyone could buy are the norm? And then there is the racism, which has become almost endemic since Vladimir Putin became President of Russia in 2000? Not to mention the human rights issues, including the mis-treatment of minorities, homosexuals, political opponents of Putin, journalists, and those who just happen to be living smack-bang in the middle of a planned new shopping-centre or expensive apartment complex, to name but a few examples. But, hey, who cares? It's all about the football..

One could ask exactly the same questions of Qatar, and one could add the factors that alcohol will not be widely available, there might not be much to keep the travelling support occupied outside what the Americans call "game-time", the average afternoon temperature in the Qatari summer of 2022 will be over 40 degrees Celsius, most of the games will be taking place in and around the capital city, Doha.

There is also, more insidiously, the prospect that gay (read homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, transvestite and trans-sexual) football fans will not be welcome in the country during the 2002 World Cup, or any time beforehand, for that matter. The same goes for apostate football fans, who have changed their religion from Mohammedan to another religion, or, indeed, to having no faith. Homosexuality and apostasy are criminal offences in Qatar; in fact, being guilty of either or both is, in the eyes of the Qatari government, punishable by execution. (Both so-called crimes are also punishable by death in Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.)  FIFA president Sepp Blatter addressed the issue of gay football-fans potentially heading to Qatar thus: "I'd say they should refrain from any sexual activities." He claimed shortly afterwards that he was joking. The japester..

But again, who cares? It's all about the football..isn't it? Money, of course, is bound to have played a massive part in the final decisions of the FIFA Executive Committee, alongside FIFA's reasoning that they were bringing football to new frontiers. The FA, and in particular, Lord Triesman, alleged that members of the Executive Committee promised their vote to England's bid if money changed hands (or knighthoods were dished out). The evidence was put before FIFA; all those accused were acquitted. Now, Russia and Qatar have never hosted a World Cup, but both countries are among the few who could afford to stage a World Cup at this time, and both are rich in natural resources.

Still, both countries did seem to be the less likely choices to stage World Cups, but they have been chosen and that is that. The calls for England to secede from FIFA do seem to be of the knee-jerk variety, and were once again to be heard after Sepp Blatter's less than unanimous re-election to the FIFA presidency at the beginning of this month.

But, what would happen if England withdrew from FIFA? Have any of those calling for English secession from FIFA - and, by default, UEFA - thought about what might happen to English football should such an event take place?

Well, just to begin with, the FA might just find itself out in the cold; would there be a gurarantee that other FIFA members would join them in forming a breakaway organisation as advocated in the English-based press? Quite probably not; by leaving FIFA, the FA would forfeit its position on the FIFA International Board, which is responsible for drawing up the laws of football, and thereby much of its prestige.

Then, there is the question of money. Never mind the bribery scandals in FIFA, English football has had its fair share of bribery allegations down the years, some of which have been proven, some not. If the FA were to secede, opportunities for the country's best players, both male and female, to appear in the most important tournaments would cease, and there would be no more prize money from these tournaments going into the FA's bank account. It would lose its entitlement to receive grants from FIFA and UEFA.

All of England's national sides, at whatever level, would be banned from competing in qualifying competitions for World Cups or European Championships, at which the national team, once qualified for same, could under-perform and be thereafter scorned by the tabloid press. If for example, the FA pulled out of FIFA tomorrow, the England women's team would be barred from playing in the Women's World Cup, due to begin at the end of this month in Germany.

There would be no more chances for the country's best teams to play in European club competitions; they would be banned from doing so. Just imagine it; no more Champions League/European Cup. No more Europa League/UEFA Cup. No more Messi. No more Cristiano Ronaldo. No more money from these competitions for the top English clubs. And, just imagine if FIFA took the ultimate step and forbade any English-born player to compete in national competition at any level, anywhere in the world. The development of players such as Theo Walcotts and Jack Wilsheres of this world would stop in its tracks. (Maybe not Wilshere; he can thank Arsène Wenger for that already..)

England would then be out on its own; a modern-day South Africa or Colombia. Both countries had, of course, been banned by FIFA for a considerable length of time, South Africa because of the evils of apartheid, and Colombia because of the breakaway league which was formed there at the tail-end of the 1940s and which ran for a few years before it ran out of money.

The prospect of the same thing happening to the Premier League would be something that would scare the pants out of the Premier League, its clubs, supporters the world over, and the English media. Sky Sports, for instance, relies on its coverage of English football, and of the Premier League in particular, to put bums on sofas all over the British Isles and therefore keep the satellite TV network up and running. Sky TV and the Premier League clubs rely on the fans putting their hands in their pockets to keep them afloat, as do the country's newspapers to a large extent.

More often than not, the fans (or those who can afford to, at least) are paying an extortionate amount of money to watch their heroes week-in, week-out. This, and the money paid out to the Premier League by Sky TV (and, to a lesser extent, by the BBC), is helping to sustain the clubs, as is prize money awarded by UEFA to those clubs lucky enough to qualify for European football. That would all disappear if England left FIFA.

Would the fans want to return to football, pre-1957 style, in the days before the FA granted permission for English clubs to play in European club competitions? Would they stand idly by and watch some of the best players in the world, who are currently playing in English football, to leave for foreign shores because there was no route into European football, and, more importantly for some of them, because the money would eventually run dry?

That would begin in the Premier League, and then eventually filter down into the Football League, and from there down on into non-league football. Clubs would be going bankrupt left, right and centre. The FA itself would also go broke. Money - and talent - disappearing from the English game could also potentially affect the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people not directly employed by football clubs, in employment sectors as diverse as transport, hospitality, clothing and catering. What would be the potential damage to the English, and, indeed, the UK economy as a whole? Have any of those advocating England's retreat from FIFA thought about this?

If the FA were to attempt to form a breakaway organisation, it would be unsuccessful if they could not persuade the likes of the French, Spanish and German football authorities to join them. The FA could well set up a breakaway organisation with its own rules, including those relating to membership. This could see the likes of Gibraltar, Greenland, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man applying to join.

Both Gibraltar and Greenland have applied to join both FIFA and UEFA in the recent past, with Greenland's application being rejected as there was no playing-surface in the country that was of a high enough standard. The local governing body, the GBU (Gronlands Boldspil Union) had attempted to raise the US$450,000 or so needed to fund the purchase of an all-weather pitch, but to no avail. Greenland finally got its all-weather football pitch last year, courtesy of a grant from - yes, you know what comes next, dear reader - FIFA, which totalled something approaching 400,000 Euros. But, the country is still waiting for FIFA membership..

Gibraltar's application was much more controversial; the British Crown Colony, situated on the Meditterannean coast and bordered by Spain, had applied to join FIFA and UEFA at the same time as Greenland. Spain were implaccably opposed to Gibraltar obtaining membership of either organisation, and they threatened to leave both organisations should Gibraltar be accepted as a member. (The Spanish FA looked at Gibraltar's application as setting a precedent which some of the country's own regions, such as Euskadi and Catalunya, might follow.) As a result, FIFA changed the membership criteria in 2003, stating that only fully-independent countries which were members of the United Nations would, in future, be accepted for membership. UEFA then folowed suit.

Gibraltar then took their case to the CAS (Centre for Arbritation in Sport) in Switzerland, who eventually ruled in Gibraltar's favour in 2006, and also said that UEFA should accept Gibraltar's application for associate membership, as it was originally made before FIFA's membership rule-change in 2003. UEFA did so with extreme reluctance, but added that full membership would be debated and voted on at the next UEFA Congress, which was to take place in Dusseldorf in 2007. In between times, the Spanish FA and members of the country's diplomatic corps (the Spanish ambassador to Belgrade paying a courtesy call to the headquarters of the Serbian FA being one example of this, according to sections of the Gibraltarian media, such as The Chronicle) went on the offensive, urging fellow European footballing bodies to vote against GIbraltar's application.

At the Congress, felow applicants Montenegro were accepted unanimously into the organisation. Gibraltar, on the other hand, received just 3 votes in support of their application - from England, Scotland and Wales - whilst 43 member associations voted against , and 7 others abstained. Northern Ireland's governing body, the Irish FA, also voted against GIbraltar's inclusion in the UEFA family, presumably due to the fact that Northern Ireland's national team were in Spain's qualifying group for Euro 2008 at the time and the IFA didn't want to rock the boat. Whatever the reasons, the GFA were left out in the cold, and there they remain.

So, seeing that the IFA voted for Sepp Blatter's continuing presence at the top of the FIFA tree, and that Spain wouldn't leave FIFA to join a breakaway organisation, especially one which would, in all likelihood, contain Gibraltar, the FA would have to rely on support from the likes of Australia and the USA. Obtaining the support of the Americans is also unlikely due to the current goings-on in CONCACAF, especially as, if in the event that the suspended CONCACAF president Jack Walker would be forced to  permanently step down if the bribery allegations against him were proven to be true, Walker's vice-president, the dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker Chuck Blazer, would take over the reins. American support for a breakaway movement would then disappear like snow in the Sahara. Once the Americans would decide to remain in FIFA, the Australians would shrug their shoulders and follow suit.

No, support outside England for such a move would be, at best, minimal. The smaller countries would not leave FIFA because their votes are of equal value to those of the larger, more powerful footballing countries, and because of the grants recieved from the organisation and the chance to fill powerful positions within it. The larger countries would not leave FIFA because of the financial implications listed above, plus the prize money earned at any given World Cup Finals tournament and their power within the organisation.

England's position could be made untenable if they broke away from FIFA, especially if they then tried to re-apply for membership. FIFA - and UEFA - have the right to expel any country they wish. They also have the right to grant associate membership to those countries wishing to join the game's ruling body. This would mean having no vote at a FIFA Congress (ditto for UEFA), only being granted observer status.  The FA would therefore not have a say in world football, and club sides would not be able to compete in European competitions.

It would be a nightmare scenario for English football, and those involved in the game - fans, clubs, the FA and the media - would do well to remember that the era of "Splendid Isolation" came to an end at the beginning of the 20th century. For the FA to break away from FIFA now would be an act of folly, if not out and out lunacy. For all its faults, we are stuck with FIFA, and it would be better for the FA and the other disenchanted organisations to effect change from inside, not outside, the organisation, and it would be better for football if everyone outside the FA stopped talking about the FA leaving FIFA and instead joined the FA and its like-minded colleagues in doing something, in the words of the FIFA slogan, for the good of the game.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is one I made earlier, but, somehow, it was mislaid in the system, somewhere between drafting and posting. Well, it was lost, but now it has been found; better (five months) late than never. Hopefully, at least some of the article is still relevant.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


For most of the European football-loving public (and a fair few beyond), the travails of the season just gone are behind them, and they - and they clubs they follow - are looking forward to (or dreading) next season. However, the round ball just keeps rolling on, and for those football followers who are less than parochial in their love for the game, there is plenty to keep them occupied.

Apart from those countries where the regular season is still in full swing, the CONCACAF Gold Cup has reached the quarter-final stage, where the usual suspects - the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica - are once again featured in the line-up, the Island Games' men's and women's tournaments kick off in just over a week's time, while the Women's World Cup and the Copa América are also looming very large.

Almost unnoticed by those who slavishly follow the fortunes of Messi, Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo et al, the long journey to the holy grail of World Cup qualification began on Wednesday in the unlikely location of Couva, Trinidad and Tobago.

Couva, a small village in north-central Trinidad, earned its footnote in World Cup history by hosting the opening game in the CONCACAF region's World Cup qualifying tournament, which featured Montserrat, the nominal home side, taking on Belize in the local Ato Boldon Stadium (named after the local sprinting star) before an estimated audience of some 150 people.

The game was originally scheduled to take place at the Larry Gomes Stadium in nearby Malabar, but the venue was changed sometime in the last couple of weeks for reasons not apparent to your correspondent.

The game took place in Couva as Montserrat, FIFA's smallest member country and a British Overseas Territory, does not currently possess a stadium fit for hosting international football, though the local footballing body, the MFA, are busy readying what would surely be the world's smallest international football stadium, the very picturesque Blakes Estate Stadium in the tiny hamlet of Lookout, a one-grandstand ground with a capacity of precisely 504 people, which would hold roughly 9% of the island's population or around 6000.

Football has been taking place there since the stadium in the island's formal capital, Plymouth, was destroyed (along with the rest of the capital) when the Soufrière Hills volcano began a series of eruptions in July 1995. Nineteen people died following an eruption in June 1996

For the record, Belize won what was the first half of a two-leg elimination contest by 5 goals to 2, with their striker Deon McCauley gaining the honour of scoring the first goal of the 2014 World Cup after 24 minutes. He would later go on to complete the competition's first hat-trick. Harrison Roches and Elroy Kuylen completed the scoring for the Belizeans. Jay Lee Hodgson bagged a brace in reply for Montserrat.

For those who love their statistics, the following information might prove useful:


MONTSERRAT: Micah HILTON, Anthony GRIFFITH, Kendall ALLEN, Julian WADE (Alexander Bramble, 76), Wayne DYER, Darryl ROACH, Jay Lee HODGSON, Hildyard MENDES, Dale LEE, Alex DYER, Leovan OGARRO

BELIZE: Shane ORIO, Lúis MENDEZ (Ryan SIMPSON, 46), Dalton EILEY, Elroy KUYLEN, Ian GAYNAIR, Elroy SMITH, Deon McCAULEY, Harrison ROCHES (Daniel JÍMENEZ), Valian SYMMS, Everal TRAPP, Denis BENAVIDES (David TRAPP, 64)



BELIZE: Deon McCAULEY (24, 75, 83), Harrison ROCHES (50), Elroy KUYLEN (53)

The second leg is scheduled to take place in the Belizean capital city, Belmopan, next Sunday. Qualification should be merely a formality for Belize; although they are currently situated in 172nd place in the FIFA rankings, they are still 30 places ahead of Montserat, who are in 202nd position and joint dead last, alongside Anguilla, Andorra, American Samoa, San Marino and Papua New Guinea.

Montserrat's involvement in the 2014 World Cup campaign is likely to end before everyone else's (Belize excepted, naturally) begins, even before the lesser lights in the AFC take to the field on 29/6/11 for the first preliminary round in the Asian qualifiers. Eight games are scheduled to take place on that date, including what may well be the most emotive of them all, Bangladesh hosting Pakistan in Dhaka. The returns will be held on 3/7/11.

The first-leg of the second round of games in the AFC regional qualifiers will be held on 23/7 11, with the return leg taking place on 28/7/11. Iran, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are among the teams who will enter the competition at the second-round stage, along with perennial under-achievers India and Indonesia.

Bhutan, Brunei Darusalaam, Guam and Mauritania declined to enter a team for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. The reasons why have not been made clear.


Monday, June 13, 2011


"'Chaos,' said the captain, 'we must masticate this malcontent,'" the much-missed '80s avant-garde band Stump once sang. There was plenty of chaos and malcontent at the FIFA Congress straddling the end of last month and the beggining of this, which rubber-stamped Sepp Blatter's fourth term as the organisation's president, in an election process which saw him retain his position unopposed after Mohammed Bin Hammam withdrew from the race early on the previous Sunday morning (29/5/11).

It will go down in footballing history as one of the most shambolic events in the game's history, with allegations and counter-allegations, Blatter being cleared of corruption allegations, suspensions for Jack Walker and Mohammed Bin Hammam and a potential split in the organisation all part of the mix.

In a previous blog just before the Congress, I expressed my opinion that FIFA's internal inquiry into corruption allegations which were levied against Blatter, Walker and Bin Hammam would end up being a whitewash with all three men being cleared of all allegations.

Well, it hasn't turned out that way, at least not yet. Later that day, the organisation's Ethics Comittee, which had held the inquiry, cleared Blatter of all allegations, but suspended AFC chief Bin Hammam for six months after finding him guilty of bribery allegations surrounding Qatar's successful bid for the 2022 World Cup.

Walker, president of CONCACAF, has also been suspended for the same length of time after his vice-president, the USA's Chuck Walker, alleged that Walker and Bin Hammam gave delegates at the Caribbean Football Union conference last month some $40,000 each. Oh, and a laptop for each delegate to boot (no pun intended).

For an overview of what went on during what I shall now christen Sepp's Sunday, kindly view my previous blog:

After receiving his suspension, Walker promised that he would deliver a response akin to a "tsunami", and showed off an e-mail from FIFA general secretary Jérôme Valcke which seemed to suggest that Bin Hammam was trying to bribe his way to the FIFA presidency. (Please view aforementioned previous blog for more on this.)

Blazer then reported Walker to FIFA for breaching the terms of his suspension by his meeting members of CONCACAF, claiming that he had "clear evidence" of this happening.

Walker, who had said on Sepp Sunday that he would prefer that CONCACAF members abstained or voted against Blatter, performed a volte-face two days later when members of his staff distributed the following statement, penned by himself:

"I, Jack Warner, a servant and believer in the principles of this beautiful game do humbly besiege [sic] you, my brothers and sisters from the Caribbean Football Union, to desist from initiating any protest action at tomorrow's Fifa congress."

He also said: "At our last meeting we agreed as a union to support the incumbent Joseph Sepp Blatter in his quest to regain the Presidency..I wish to assure you nothing has changed – our mandate was set then and despite it all we must fulfil it." Jack being humble? Never thought I'd see the day..

Blatter was re-elected, of course, on Wednesday 1/6/11, after receiving 186 out of 203 votes from FIFA delegates  present (FIFA's membership consists of 208 nations; Brunei Darussalam and São Tomé e Principe were not eligible to vote, and three other countries were also absent) representing each one of the organisation's members. England, Scotland, and a further 15 nations - there have been some rumours circulating that the representatives from Norway, Germany and Denmark also voted against Blatter, but these remain rumours - all voted against Blatter. Earlier in the day, (presumably) the same nations had voted for the English FA's motion to have the vote postponed while another 17 nations abstained; 172 voted against this time.

The FA's chairman, David Bernstein, had the look of someone who knew what was coming when he was walking to the podium to ask for a postponement of the election, and once there, said that a "coronation without an opponent provides a flawed mandate." He and the FA were lambasted by his Spanish counterpart; no huge surprise there, following Spain's successsful moves in helping get Gibraltar's applications for FIFA and UEFA membership blocked in recent years by..threatening to walk out of both organisations if Gibraltar's application was accepted by either body.

Júlio Grondona, Argentina's boss, said something to the effect that they would only talk to the FA when the Falkland Islands had been given back to Argentina. The FA also faced criticism from various other footballing heavyweights such as the Congo (the boys from the DRC), Benin, Cyprus and Fiji. Retaliatory action from English football fans in the form of boycotting both countries as holiday destinations has, to my knowledge, not yet been called for by any English-based tabloid.

One nation which voted for Blatter twice was Northern Ireland, whose president, Jim Boyce, was due to take up the UK's alloted vice-presidential position the day after the vote. Boyce, who is also chairman of Irish League side Cliftonville, justified his country's support of Blatter by gushing that our Sepp "is a friend of football in Northern Ireland..Anything he has ever been asked to do, he has done it very willingly." Boyce has since replaced England's Geoff Thompson as one of FIFA's eight vice-presidents.

An independent troika of (currently) non-footballing people has been appointed by FIFA to keep an eye on things: Henry Kissinger (ex-US Secretary of State), opera-singer Placido Domingo, football fans of the highest order both, and none other than Johan Cruyff, the former Dutch ace and general big-mouth, forming the trio.

All the goings-on at the congress, the voting, the allegations, all the criticism levelled at the FA, and Blatter coming over all emotional after his re-election and promising much good in the future all made for interesting reading and viewing.

However, nothing more since has been heard regarding allegations and counter-allegations, and Jack Walker's so-caused "tsunami" has gone quiet over the past week or so, but he's doing other things at the moment back home in Trinidad and Tobago..

As for Mohammed Bin Hammam, he still maintains his innocence, though very little has been heard from him since. And Chuck Blazer? Who knows? Is he waiting for Walker to fall from grace and attempt to have a stint a the top of the CONCACAF tree?

It's very hard to know what to think about all of this, except to say that football has come out the loser after all that has gone on, though one thing is for sure - the FA will not be leaving FIFA now or at any time in the foreseeable future. It has too much, especially from a financial perspective, to lose, and all of those people who claim that the Premier League would still be able to function as it now does are living in cloud-cuckoo land.

Money is the be-all and end-all in football. It always has been, and it always well be, and the best players go where the money is. If the FA were to leave FIFA, the best players would all eventually be moving in the other direction, and the English game would be adversely affected to the point of implosion. (More on the FA and FIFA another time.)

Back to Jim Boyce; he also stated the following:  "If these allegations [of bribery, corruption, etc.] are proven, the people should be removed from office right away. People who are in these positions have got to be in a position where they are whiter than white."

Stefan Nestler from the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle asked the day after the FIFA presidential vote: "Where are all the supposedly "clean" soccer officials who could assume the mantle of leadership?" Any answers, Jim? Can anybody else at FIFA answer this question? People are waiting, though, by the looks of it, they may we be waiting for a very long time. It's suddenly gone all quiet out there..