Imagine there's no Fifa... It sounds like a terrible parody on a John Lennon song. But the dream, or nightmare depending on your standpoint, lurched on to the distant horizon this past week in Zurich. The air within the football bubble was so febrile and tense that counter-accusations were being flung back almost before the original accusations had been launched.
Barely had the Fifa president Sepp Blatter sat down after delivering a keynote address to the world governing body's congress than a critical email from the European Clubs Association was already hitting the inboxes of journalists in the hall.
Simultaneously Chuck Blazer, the whistleblowing general secretary of Central and North America, was engaging in a you're-fired, no-I'm-not exchange with acting president Lisle Austin. The "real" president, Jack Warner, may have been under suspension because of Blazer's bribery allegations but it was almost as if he was still pulling the strings.
Take away Fifa and you lose all those hilarious sideshows. But would anyone be the losers, apart from those who are addicted to sport laced with black humour?
Blatter is fond of talking about the football pyramid with national associations at the base and, above them, the six regional confederations: Europe's Uefa, Africa's CAF, Asia's AFC, Oceania, South America's Conmebol and then the absurd acronym which is Blazer and Warner's Concacaf.
Above them all: the discredited, all-male, 24-strong (or weak) Fifa executive committee. At the apex the president, Blatter himself.
After the recent back-stabbing chaos, lateral thinkers are starting to question whether Fifa have a purpose any longer. Have they completed their task? Is there anything constructive left for them to do? Or are they heading into history, a sporting equivalent of the British Empire?
Talk of the Football Association walking out, as they did in a row over broken-time payments for amateurs in the early 1920s, is neither one thing nor another. If Fifa are to be abandoned, Europe will have to go en masse. Proud insularity is the road to nowhere. If England were alone outside Fifa, it would also be outside Uefa. That would mean the clubs being barred from the Champions' League and all the registered players being barred from the World Cup. Clearly a recipe for financial suicide.
But what if Uefa were to go? There are elements within the European game who would consider that option seriously. Then the other confederations, for their own financial sake, might well follow suit and the administrative and political map of the football world would be changed radically. But for the better?
When Fifa were founded in Paris in 1904 they claimed for themselves the right to organise football's world championship. Some 26 years later they managed to fulfil their raison d'être and, in the succeeding 81 years, they have elevated the World Cup to an organisational, administrative, social and, above all, commercially monopolistic peak.
Nothing of further significance can be achieved. The current complement of 32 finalists is the maximum possible, its four-yearly cycle is a perfect fit in the international event calendar and South Africa 2010 was the ultimate proof that – given enough money, resources and expert manpower – the tournament can be staged anywhere in the world.
Thus, not only has the ultimate World Cup template been established (whether in South Africa or for Russia and, yes, even for Qatar) but it can be sliced and diced for whichever country wants to stage the assorted supporting cast of youth, women's, beach, indoor and computer game world championships.
Fifa have completed their task of perfecting the methodology of organisation and profit-sharing. Now the various continents can take over, turn and turn about. All they need is to employ a consortium of marketing agencies to auction off each event's commercial and broadcasting rights to the highest bidders.
After all, the concept of rotating football's prize event between the continents has been tried and tested. That is how South Africa landed the 2010 World Cup and how Brazil walked off with the 2014 tournament. Firming up rotation could be adopted for all the world championships. Everyone would get a bite of at least one of the cherries on a regular basis and the need for corruption-wracked intercontinental bidding battles would be gone.
Uefa, short on soul but long on efficiency, would oversee the organisation of a World Cup not only more economically but more profitably than Fifa themselves.
Even the details of the game of association football have been sorted. Fifa established the ideal standards for artificial pitches, the quality of the ball, players' health, and a control on sponsor logos to prevent teams looking like 11-man sandwich boards.
Fifa have done their job in establishing the universality of the game and creating and raising the World Cup from fragile infant to self-sufficient adult. All that is left is for them to retire with good grace and head off into the sporting sunset.
Of course, Blatter and his executive committee would disagree vehemently. But then, given the five-star, all-expenses-paid Fifa lifestyle in which they luxuriate, they would, wouldn't they?
This was the nub of so much criticism of the ExCo. It is not always easy to work out exactly what the ExCo members do or what purpose they retain. If Blatter has his way, the answer is: even less than before.
Last Wednesday, Fifa's 200-plus national associations voted in favour of the principle that congress, and not the executive committee, will decide on the designation of hosts for World Cups from 2026. Also in future, congress will designate the members of the ethics committee.
So what remaining purpose does the executive committee serve? To try to justify their existence they should at least consist of representatives of referees, coaches, doctors, leagues, players and supporters. They do not, and there is no prospect they ever will. They have become a self-perpetuating political gerontocracy.
Risto Nieminen, the head of the World Lottery Association, put suspicion into words when he told an anti-corruption conference: "The governing structures of sports bodies have not developed at anything like the pace needed to cope with the commercial and financial explosion of sport today." Naming no names, of course. Extending his argument, if Fifa and the executive committee are not fit for purpose what is the point of their existence?
Maintaining certain worldwide sports authorities makes sense. One is the World Anti-Doping Agency, another is the dispute-resolving Court of Arbitration for Sport. Two further bodies could usefully be created, under the CAS aegis: one could co-ordinate sport's worldwide fight against match-fixing while the other should be a truly independent ethics watchdog to monitor the behaviour of directors and officials.
Neither the ethics committee of Fifa (or of the International Olympic Committee for that matter) can enjoy unalloyed trust while they are beneath, rather than independently above, the organisational umbrella.
However, one issue of uniformity remains outstanding from this brave and deconstructed new world: guarding the laws of the game.
At the moment, the law-making International Football Association Board are made up of one representative apiece from the four home countries and four from Fifa. The board would need to retain their international pre-eminence; after all, to compete in the World Cup demands everyone playing to the same rules.
Cutting Fifa out of the equation would make no difference. The only effect within the International Board would be to leave the British back in charge... which is where, in 1904, Fifa came in, after all.
Then the ball will have rolled full circle. Just imagine.
Keir Radnedge of 'World Soccer' has covered every World Cup and Fifa since 1966Reuse content