One day privileges, the next day protestations of innocence. This has become the path of the average FIFA Executive. To be fair it is not far removed from the average player these days, who only wants to talk when the team is winning, and shuns the media when they are losing!
It was not surprising to hear last week that the man at the top of the FIFA tree, Sepp Blatter who resigned earlier in the year as President but is still ‘taking care of business’ announced that he may in fact stay on in the role. The crocodile and the armadillo are supposed to have the thickest skins in the animal kingdom, Blatter takes having a thick skin to another level in human terms.
It was welcome news that Blatter has been recommended to be suspended for 90 days yesterday by the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, but one has to say it is probably too little too late. To compound the problems at FIFA HQ if he is suspended the FIFA Senior Vice-President Issa Hayatou of Cameroon is in line to replace Blatter for the period of his suspension. Mr Hayatou was sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee in 2011 and has been the subject of bribery allegations by a Qatar-bid whistelblower, accusations which he has denied.
The process to replace Blatter in February 2016 is proving to be a charade. There is no way that the elections should take place as those electing the President are now compromised as are some of the candidates being put forward.
Blatter has claimed that he is not “morally responsible” for corruption of individuals within the associated confederations. This just shows the lack of accountability and transparency within the game that have created the situation that FIFA finds itself in.
Despite no accusations of corruption the Football Federation of Australia could be accused of taking the same stance as Mr Blatter. They have completely lost touch with the regions around Australia. They do not police the state bodies that they have given power to run the game around the country, and ignore anyone who speaks out against these bodies. Even their own board election, which looks like seeing the current Chairman’s son appointed the new Chairman, is as much a closed shop at the FIFA Executive. One could also say that some of its staff are being paid beyond the realms of what the game can currently afford; It is believed that two senior executives – one being the CEO – are receiving over $1million a year.
Power can be a very dangerous thing and power in football can only be classed as a disease. A disease that sees all sense of reason left at the door. The blinkers donned once appointed to a senior position are exceptionally effective. So much so that not only can rules that are laid out in official documents be overlooked, but suddenly there is no such thing as a conflict of interest.
The President of UEFA Michel Platini – who was a wonderful player – was hell-bent on a career in administration when he hung up his boots. Now his own reputation looks to be muddied. News that he received a UKL1.3million payment from FIFA for work done between 1999-2002 has certainly not enhanced his reputation. Platini has claimed that it was “a FIFA contract,” yet as the Swiss investigators have queried, why has it taken him nine years to be paid? How many people would wait nine years if someone owed them UKL1 million?
It is always worth going back in time. In 1998 Platini was an ally of Blatter in the Presidential elections. He only turned on Blatter when the incumbent President apparently reneged on a promise to retire, therefore opening the pathway for Platini. These new revelations would appear to see him now unelectable in the current climate.
No doubt other men who would be king will see their tilt for the top job destroyed once the FBI have sifted through the 100 million A4 Pages of data that they seized from FIFA headquarters. Add to that the likelihood that many of those implicated will start to sing about some of the finer details in order to protect their own skins, there appear to be many heads about to roll.
For this reason there cannot be an election in February. Yet the vacuum at the top must be filled. The biggest question is by whom and under what power can they be elected and what power would they hold?
The one thing that all fans must appreciate is that there can be no quick fix. It is going to be a long drawn out affair and it will undoubtedly have far a far reaching effect on the game across the world. In fact globally Federations will all have to make some changes as to the way they operate. Certainly there will be a need, and a call for more transparency, and so there should be.
As FIFA unravels one cannot help thinking back to May when Sepp Blatter was quoted as saying “If two other countries had emerged from the envelope, I think we would not have these problems today.”
He was of course referring the World Cup hosting elections which saw Russia and Qatar emerge as winners. This was the first time that two world cup hosts had been decided at the one time; the reason given by FIFA was to allow the 2022 host more time to prepare. There were cynics at the time who saw this as a way for many of the FIFA Executive to extract two final under the table payments before they retired. Those who joked about such things at the time may well have been closer to the mark than they realised. Certainly Mr Blatter must be regretting the decision.