OK then, do nothing.
Allow the screaming skull of a triumphant Sepp Blatter to remain the face of modern football. Accept the culture of cronyism and corruption he presides over. Acknowledge the malignant genius of the functionary who became an emperor.
Wait for him to die in office. Watch the power of perverted patronage grow. Wonder whether the trail of blood money will end in a US courtroom towards the end of this decade, or in the dance macabre of the opening ceremony for the Qatar World Cup in 2022.
There is an alternative.
Ignore siren voices which insist withdrawal from Fifa is as futile a gesture as spoiling a ballot paper. Ignite a bonfire of vanities capable of consuming what the FBI characterises as a global network of crime syndicates. Install a new generation of leaders who possess moral courage, political acuity and missionary zeal.
Change the landscape. Combat inevitable slurs of commercial opportunism and creeping colonialism by creating a transparent, independently monitored organisation in which authority is earned rather than assumed. Cherish the concept of a tournament which enshrines the world’s best, so that it is regenerated and, if necessary, rebranded.
Above all, know your enemy.
Blatter is not the buffoon of popular legend. Even in his series of increasingly unhinged speeches during an election process that resembled a Eurovision Song Contest from Hell, he ensured his supplicants kept their eye on the main prize. “It is the World Cup that is the goose of the golden eggs,” he told them. “We need to keep that institution.”
He was speaking in a £220m building, to delegates accustomed to unbounded luxury and ritual subservience. The World Cup pays for everything, and there is a lack of due diligence on how, or if, the money is spent. He manipulates mediocrities, exploits envy and resentment, and will sustain the illusion of reform. Change from within is a chimera.
It was business as usual yesterday. Victory brought menace rather than magnanimity, the veiled threat that “I forgive everyone but I do not forget”. He could not resist sniping at familiar enemies, and a lapse into Orwellian doublespeak in which he implied the slew of arrests was proof of a lack of corruption.
He denied being responsible for an alleged $10m (£6.5m) bribe paid to Jack Warner, one of the grandees currently under investigation. His risible conspiracy theory, that the FBI are part of an imperialist plot against him, played to convenient perceptions in the developing world. He knows Africa historically mistrusts Europe, and Asian TV markets are increasingly lucrative.
He is a consummate networker, and confirmed his intention to embark on a charm offensive with spooked sponsors. They remain obvious targets for an alternative tournament featuring leading European nations and embellished by teams from North and South America.
The Fifa bigwigs facing charges
The Fifa bigwigs facing charges
1/14 Jeffrey Webb, 50, Cayman Iskands
A Fifa vice president. His arrest came as a big surprise, as he had been tipped as the man to clean up Fifa once Blatter departs. Webb is also president of Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) and the Cayman Islands Football Association
2/14 Costas Takkas, 58, UK
A British citizen, Mr Takkas is currently an attache to the Concacaf president. He was previously general secretary of the Cayman Islands Football Association, of which Mr Webb is president
3/14 Jack Warner, 72, (pictured), Daryan Warner, 46 and Daryll Warner, 40, Trinidad & Tobago
The former Fifa vice president and head of Concacaf was a dominant force in football for 30 years, but was suspended from his roles in 2011 amid accusations of corruption dating back to the 1980s and an investigation by Fifa's ethics committee. He later resigned, ending the proceedings against him. Daryan Warner, the son of Jack Warner is also believed to have co-operated with the FBI. He pleaded guiltyin October 2013 to wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and the structuring of financial transactions, forfeiting $1.1m. Daryll Warner, another of Jack Warner's sons, he pleaded guilty to various offences in July 2013. A former Fifa development officer, he lost the job in 2012 after his father's resignation amid corruption allegations. He and his brother both face up to 10 years in prison
4/14 Charles Blazer, 70, USA
The former Concacaf general secretary reportedly turned "supergrass" to help the FBI inestigation, using a bugging device hidden inside a key fob to record meetigs with his Fifa colleagues at the London 2012 Olympics. In November 2013 he pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and income tax evasion. Seriously ill with colon cancer
5/14 Rafael Esquivel, 68, Venezuela
Executive committee member of the South American Football Confederetion (Conmebol). It is alleged that officials at Conmebol, which organises the Copa America, received bribes from marketing executives
6/14 Eugenio Figueredo, 83, USA/Uruguay
The Fifa vice president and executive committee member is a big name in world football, having previously been at the head of Conmebol and the Uruguayan Football Association. A former right-back
7/14 Nicolas Leoz, 86, Paraguay
A former Fifa executive committee member and Conmebol president. When he retired in 2013 for health reasons, he said: "I've not stolen so much as a cent"
8/14 Eduardo Li, 56, Costa Rica
President of the Costa Rican Football Federation. He was elected to Fifa's executive commitee in March
9/14 José Maria Marin, 83, Brazil
The former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation is also a member of Fifa's committee for Olympic tournaments
10/14 Julio Rocha, 64, Nicaragua
Fifa development officer. Previously president of his country's football federation
11/14 José Hawilla, 71, Brazil
The owner and founder of the Traffic Group, a sports marketing conglomerate, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy in 2014. Two of his companies - Traffic Sports International Inc and Traffic Sports USA Inc - have also pleaded guilty
12/14 Aaron Davidson, 44, USA
President of Traffic Sports USA, is a large promoter of football events in America
13/14 Alejandro Burzaco, 50, (pictured), Hugo Jinkis, 70 and Mariano Jinkis, 40, Argentina
Alejandro Burzaco, a media executive who controls Torneos y Competencias, a sports marketing business. Hugo Jinkis, is the president of Full Play Group, a sports marketing business in Argentina. His son Mariano, is vice president
14/14 José Margulies (AKA José Lazaro), 75, Brazil
Although he is in broadcasting, it is alleged he served as an intermediary to facilitate illicit payments between sports marketing executives and Fifa officials
It is time to play Blatter at his own game, on his own turf. Rebellious overtures should be made to China and India, populous nations in which football is at a critical stage of development; if this is not done soon they will be drawn into Fifa’s orbit for good. Football would be splintered but spring-cleaned.
Any attempt to disrupt the status quo will unleash an army of powdered-wigged Orcs, yet legal retribution from Blatter and his allies is a risk which must be taken. We are not dealing with a sacred relic here. The World Cup is a relatively recent sporting phenomenon, and has been operating as a truly global event for only 65 years, since the introduction of British teams in 1950.
That milestone is a reminder of the dangers of our island mentality. The nondescript nature of British sports politics is embodied by FA of Wales president Trefor Lloyd Hughes, who is likely to take the UK’s traditional seat on Fifa’s executive committee, vacated by David Gill in a matter of hours because of his unwillingness to serve under Blatter.
Lloyd Hughes was outraged at being comprehensively beaten in a ballot for the place by the former Manchester United chief executive, because he believed he had been promised Buggins’ turn. He represents the pettiness which led to the smaller home nations denying young men and women the chance to compete for Great Britain in the next Olympic football tournament.
Gill, subjected to retaliatory criticism by Blatter, has been immeasurably more impressive than Greg Dyke, who has once again come across as a shallow sloganeer. The FA chairman dismally missed the point when he argued England’s unilateral withdrawal from the World Cup would be “ridiculous”. Act on a point of principle, regardless, or accept the consequences of your temerity.
Gill is that rarity, a highly principled pragmatist. He has natural authority and would be a key figure in any breakaway, yet new leaders must be developed quickly and stealthily. Michel Platini is a busted flush, compromised by his support for Qatar and powerless even to influence the French federation, which voted for his enemy Blatter.
Zbigniew Boniek, his former Juventus team-mate, has the potential to be a rallying point for independently minded administrators. He used his position as chairman of the Polish federation to call for Russia to be stripped of the 2018 World Cup because of the conflict with Ukraine.
It is easier to acquiesce, and succumb to scare stories about Fifa refusing to sanction players at club or international level. They may administer the laws of the game, outlined over 144 pages, but the US Department of Justice has exposed their unworthiness to govern in a 164-page indictment which outlines institutionalised criminality. This scandal will spread until it is all-consuming.
Ultimately it comes down to personal choice. What does football mean to you? To me it is the joy of a toddler taking uncoordinated hacks at a plastic ball. It is the misery of defeat, communal devotion and tangible emotion. It is not England playing at a toxic World Cup overseen by a Fifa president touched by the madness of King Lear.Reuse content