Sport on TV: Blatter is dragging investigative journalism into the gutter

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The Independent Online

It's a good job the Champions' League is not under Fifa's jurisdiction. The last time Andrew Jennings aired one of his Panorama investigations into Fifa malpractice, it was four days before the venue was chosen for the 2018 World Cup and England's bid was humiliated. The latest instalment of Panorama (BBC1, Monday) was five days before the European Cup final at Wembley but it wasn't moved to the Qatar desert at the last minute.

For many years the Fifa president Sepp Blatter and his crew have been pursued by Jennings, a shambling figure dressed in rags who is forever inquiring about their loose change. Not so much football's coming home as football's homeless. But an even more important date was looming than the Champions' League final: next Wednesday's Fifa presidential election, which will decide who gets "the biggest job in football".

David Mellor, the former Tory minister, described Fifa as a "house of cards", and the bedraggled Jennings would have served as a reminder to the 24 executives of what might happen to them if they didn't play their cards right and vote for the right man: a lifetime of stalking people getting in and out of limousines and shouting at them from outside large steel gates.

The story has moved on apace since the first two Fifa executives were alleged to have sought money in return for their World Cup bid votes. Now eight of the 24 have been accused of corruption and England's bid chairman, Lord Triesman, named four of them in a parliamentary inquiry. And the Swiss government has told Fifa they must stop blocking the publication of an investigation into wrongdoing by 31 December, or they will be kicked out of their headquarters. Homeless indeed, but there are plenty of oases in the desert they could move to. A castle in the sand would be right up their street.

Even since the latest Panorama the story has kicked on with the United States boss, the excellently named Chuck Blazer, accusing Qatar's Mohammad bin Hammam, Blatter's only rival for the presidency, and Trinidad's Jack Warner of attempted bribery in the presidential election.

Blazer looks like he might have muttered into a can or two of Special Brew in his time, and he even makes Jennings look smart. The reporter is indeed one smart cookie, but even he must be wondering how many hands are reaching into the cookie jar.

* It was 11 years ago that Ed Giddins played the last of his four Tests for England. This week he turned up on Celebrity Five Go To... (Channel 4, Monday to Friday), in which a bunch of Z-listers go on holiday in Cape Town and... something happens. He was in exalted company: Christopher Biggins, one of the Three Degrees, some bloke off The Apprentice and bonkers ex-model Paula Hamilton. Perhaps they meant Biggins but asked Giddins first by mistake.

Whatever fame Ed has accrued is closer to infamy: lengthy bans for cocaine use and betting on his own team to lose. He sold Christmas trees to fund his lively lifestyle while serving the drugs ban, and next to his, er, flamboyant colleagues he may as well have played the part of a tree. He was very wooden and came across as a bit of a sap. But compared to the rest at least he wasn't barking.

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