Sam Wallace: Latest move shows Fifa is reaching its endgame


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Don’t say you did not see it coming. Fifa’s announcement of a criminal investigation into some of those involved in the bidding to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals is one of the last moves left to play for a toxic organisation battling to salvage what is left of its credibility.

After another week of international uproar and disbelief at events on Planet Fifa, it will be truly remarkable if this latest ploy turns out to be a pursuit of the minor figures, the men and women of, say, England and Australia’s bids who did not have the foresight to destroy their computers when Michael J Garcia came knocking.

If it is a move against some of the 22 men on the Fifa executive committee who took part in the grotesque bidding process, then the victims will surely have been carefully selected. The likes of Jack Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam were only investigated by Sepp Blatter when they became a problem for him.

Every sensible football supporter, every right-thinking football administrator wants Fifa to publish the Garcia report in full. Garcia wants Fifa to publish the report in full. But still Fifa feints and ducks, on the ropes and looking for the lucky punch that will stop the onslaught.

No one is proud of the fact that the English FA played the dodgy bidding game, with its cut-price gala dinners and gold-plated internships. But charging people like Andy Anson, the chief executive of England 2018, would be like going after the Mafia by arresting the waiters in their ice-cream parlours.

For many there was the usual sense of dismay at Fifa’s latest efforts to distract attention from the non-publication of Garcia’s investigation. A personal view is this is a move so inadequate that Fifa must have precious few cards left to play. Perhaps the endgame is approaching more rapidly than we thought.

If Fifa is hoping the Swiss attorney general will simply pursue those it has decided are expedient scapegoats, then it is playing a dangerous game. With every move it makes, the opposition grows and the practical considerations of keeping a lid on this ugly business become more difficult. More people with important information have less to lose in disclosing it.

At some point the tipping point will be reached.