Total Pageviews

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..

No comments:

Post a Comment