Sepp Blatter is used to winning but he did not want the 2022 World Cup to go to Qatar. For once, the arch-politician was outmanoeuvred. Fifa’s president is believed to have backed the US bid; had he got what he wanted, Fifa would not be in this public mess.
There is an irony somewhere there, but nevertheless this is still a mess for which Blatter should be held accountable. He has been the president of Fifa since 1998. This has all happened on his watch: the corruption allegedly exposed in too many corners of the Executive Committee, the representatives from around the world who meet regularly at Fifa Haus – which could not resemble more of an underground lair if Dr Evil had planned it.
Blatter has washed his hands of it but he is stained, and unless it begins with change at the very top it is impossible to see Fifa reforming adequately. Cultural change is a necessity.
This is not a black-and-white issue. There is every shade of grey involved. The “smoking gun” has not been uncovered even if there is little doubt that corruption seeped through much of the process. And then there is the murky politics of Fifa to wade through.
Next week, Fifa’s men in suits, turkeys determined not to vote for Christmas, gather in Sao Paulo for their annual congress. Blatter is expected to announce that he will stand again as president and is hoping he won’t face a challenge from Michel Platini, the former France captain and now the president of Uefa, which wants its own man in the role instead of Blatter. But Platini supported Qatar’s bid and so Qatar is a dangerous topic for him.
Mohamed bin Hammam is a former Blatter ally, having helped him to get elected in the first place. Bin Hammam was thrown out of the presidential campaign in 2011 amid accusations of bribery. The paper trail uncovered by The Sunday Times may prove to be wider than just Qatar’s bid, for which Bin Hammam had no official role. Bin Hammam was also building support for his presidential battle with Blatter, and that may be Qatar’s line of defence.
There is no appetite for a re-vote within Fifa. A discredited Bin Hammam suits just about everybody, and whitewashing shades of grey is always a popular option up at Fifa Haus.Reuse content