Anyone can see FIFA has been riddled with corruption for years. They also lost hope that it could be stopped. Any non-profit organisation with £1billion in reserve for a “rainy day”, as Sepp Blatter himself put it, has serious questions regarding its morals.
The last World Cup bidding process left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Michel Platini, the UEFA president, would have you believe it’s just sour grapes from the English after their failed bid. Both he and Blatter, even after all the arrests made due to the FBI investigation, claim it is the British media that obsess over a culture that doesn’t exist. They have attempted to repackage wrong doings as tabloid media fabrications.
The British media can create a story from nothing but it’s fanciful to pretend no story exists here. Most people saw the two successful World Cup bidders, Russia and Qatar, as weak options. Both also happen to have thrown money at their campaign, especially the affluent Qataris. Their human rights record has been called into question and only defended so far by the exiled Richard Keys. Australia even threatened legal action after pointing out the process was to bid for a summer tournament that has become a winter one, in order to accommodate a bidder that wasn’t fit for purpose.
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FIFA managed to ride the World Cup bidding storm, laughing all the way to the bank in the process. What they hadn’t expected was a former host of the event going through their dirty laundry. When FIFA awarded the USA the 1994 World Cup they saw a chance for further global expansion. At least that’s the spin doctors’ line. The States needed to create a professional league in a country that wasn’t crying out for one.
As positive as bringing the game to new countries is don’t let this blind the real purpose: money. When FIFA offered their hand to America they expected lots of cash to be placed in its palm. In the short term this occurred. What also happened was they inadvertently invited the FBI to take a look at their North American financial transactions. Soon they realised FIFA was cutting unsavoury deals and that isn’t welcomed on US shores.
The Americans initially targeted those lower ranked FIFA officials, applying pressure on each to cut deals, in an information exchange for less punishment basis. Their end game was probably to try and cause a domino effect all the way to the top until Blatter toppled. Sepp tried to make us believe he was unaware of any wrong doing in his organisation. Even if this is true, he should be held accountable because it happened on his watch.
The time is running out for him to make manoeuvers. It’s now revealed he made a payment of £1.35m to Platini in 2011. This is under investigation by the Swiss authorities, who are acting in light of FBI pressure. Both men claim there has been no wrong doing. That the payment is for consulting work carried out between 1999 and 2002.
This may be true, there is no evidence to suggest wrong doing, but the timing is unfortunate for the pair. Why it took eleven years to settle any outstanding payments in a contract requires a reasonable answer. It is also uncomfortable that – this time lapse aside – the payment came when Platini reversed his decision to stand against Blatter’s run for presidency and decided to support him instead.
If Platini manages to satisfy this query another awkward point with the timing is how it was made two months after the successful Qatar bid. Again, there is absolutely zero evidence to say this is connected but it raises questions of ethics and the money in football.
Moving forward it’s clear both men need to step aside now. February is too far away for Blatter’s planned retirement and Platini’s reputation will forever be tarnished. Even if the Frenchman is completely innocent, he should put the game first.
There have been too many question marks surrounding FIFA, he should do the decent thing and remove the ones he brings to the table.