Monday, 30 May 2011

So Sepp Blatter's FIFA ARE corrupt: But we knew that six months ago

At 16.43 Greenwich Mean Time on December 2, when Qatar were granted the 2022 World Cup, Sepp Blatter’s FIFA were exposed as corrupt.

It’s taken six months, but today, with president Sepp Blatter teetering and his Qatari rival Mohamed Bin Hammam suspended, the end is finally nigh.

Yup, all that time to realise FIFA care more about money than football.

In truth, we knew that the moment oil-rich minnows Qatar were given the hosting rights to the World Cup. As I said at the time, how can you award the World Cup to a tiny nation with plenty of money but no sense? A country 6,000 square kilometres smaller than Swaziland which has never qualified for the tournament?

Just what was the attraction? It’s too hot to play football in Qatar in June and July. You aren’t allowed a beer while you watch. You certainly wouldn’t recommend the place to your gay friends. But then they have no fans to speak of; alcoholic, homosexual or otherwise.

Qatar? Highest per capita production in the world but no footballing tradition. Currently ranked 92 in the world. All 12 “air-conditioned” stadiums would have been built within an hour of each other in the 163rd largest “nation” in the world. Then taken down and sent to poorer nations. Aaaah!

Oh, and like most of their oily neighbours, they’ve had an undemocratic royal family in charge for centuries. We don’t know about democracy protests in Qatar over the past few months. Al Jazeera wouldn’t dare mention in.

So how does a nation like that get the World Cup? Now we know. Pure corruption. Quite rightly this morning, independent Australian senator Nick Xenophon has demanded FIFA pays back the £29.6m they spent bidding for the 2022 World Cup.

The Socceroos had a great case. Not too hot, beers allowed, queers allowed, democracy reigns, successful Olympics in 2000, great Rugby World Cup in 2003. And it would have taken football’s greatest show Down Under for the first time ever.

Xenophon told various sources: "It appears corrupt and highly questionable behaviour goes to the core of FIFA. Australia spent almost $46m on a bid we were never in the running for.

"Now we hear that bribes may have been made to fix the result for who will head up FIFA."

May have been? That’s an understatement. I said weeks before the announcement, on South Africa’s 702 radio, England’s BBC radio 5, Sky News, Supersport and on my website and in dozens of newspapers, that Russia and Qatar were nailed on as hosts. Blatter would go where the money is. No question.

Today FIFA’s notorious representative from the CONCACAF region, Jack “Pirates of the Caribbean” Warner offers this email from Jerome Valcke, the oily-tongued FIFA general secretary: " Mohamed Bin Hammam [the Qatar FA chief] thought you can buy FIFA as they bought the World Cup."

Bin Hammam – suspended from FIFA over accusations of bribery and recently (last Sunday) withdrawn from the race to replace fuhrer, sorry President, Sepp Blatter at the helm - responded by saying: "I don't know why Valcke has said that. If I was paying money for Qatar you also have to ask the 13 people who voted for Qatar."

Too right. But while we wait to hear from them, Valcke insists his e-mail to Warner was intended to remain "private" and desperately tried to talk his way out of a corner, telling the BBC: "Warner sent me an email asking if I want that Bin Hammam to run for Fifa president, he said that I should ask Bin Hammam to pull out."

So what? Valcke has admitted the 2022 World Cup was “bought”. That’s enough. Case closed.

Blatter, 75, is seeking a fourth term in charge of the global footballing organisation he has run without serious opposition since 1998 amid continual allegations of bribery and dictatorship. Today, FIFA confirmed its one-man election will go ahead, as scheduled, on Wednesday.

Sounds a bit like a Qatari election that. As long as your surname is Al Thani, you can go for the top job.

Trinidad and Tobago government minister Warner, who is president of the North, Central American and Caribbean confederation (Concacaf), is – like Hammam – suspended from FIFA over allegations of bribery.

He said: “You don't have to believe me, you don't have to like me, nobody has to eat with me, drink with me or sleep with me but Jesus Christ, take the truth when you see it

"I look on the suspension as the worst form of justice by any sporting organisation.

"They came premeditated, they weren't prepared to listen, they were hand-picked to do a task and they did just that.

"The guys were hand-picked by Blatter. A kangaroo court would be a decent thing to say.”

Warner has also accused Blatter of making a gift of computers and an unauthorised $1m (£607,000) to his fellow CONCACAF officials. He added ominously to a Sky News reporter colleague: “The email is child’s play. There’s plenty more to come.”

Surely now, with the USA’s FIFA representative Chuck Blazer blowing the whistle alongside Warner, Qatar must stand down as hosts.

Luckily, FIFA (unlike Qatar) is a democracy. Blatter can’t possibly serve a fourth term. Wednesday’s election must be called off. It’s clearly not right. Not with Warner’s Valcke email on show. But I’m not holding my breath. Even Blazer thinks the farcical election should go ahead. On Sky News looking flustered, he says he feels betrayed by Warner, his relationship has broken down. The big beardy man says Blatter is okay, Qatar’s hosting is an “independent issue”.

For FIFA and Blatter, credibility is no longer an issue. We knew that last December. Like so many global sporting organisations, it stinks.

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