Sat in the same seat where a “humble” Rupert Murdoch took a custard pie in the face, and right in front of where the media mogul’s now ex-wife threw that devastating right hook, the Football Association chairman Greg Dyke today launched his own range of projectiles at a familiar target, but with the muffled resignation of a man who knows that his enemy is all but indestructible.
Select Committees only turn incendiary when the villain is present. The head of the Football Association, together with Fifa corruption-exposing journalists, being brought before Members of Parliament to discuss what can be done about world football’s governing body is no such occasion – as Mr Dyke observed, with some wit.
“I don’t think actions by the British Parliament are going to make any difference to Fifa,” he said. “They think you’re the enemy, they think I am the enemy, they think the British press is the enemy. It is the one thing that unites us all.”
In his first year as head of the Football Association, Greg Dyke hasn’t been reluctant to go in two-footed on Sepp Blatter, Fifa’s now almost comically discredited leader. Dyke’s first attendance at a Fifa congress, in Sao Paulo last month, was, he said, “Like something out of North Korea: ‘All hail the leader’”, and said any sort of coup would be far beyond his power. He was asked, would root-and-branch reform be possible?
“A new president coming in could make that possible.”
Could a new president come in?
“I’m afraid the rest of the world overwhelmingly supports him [Blatter]. If he runs again he’ll win.”
Given how little we seem to get out of the World Cup, how bad we are at it, wondered Tracey Crouch MP (no relation to Peter), “Why don’t we just leave Fifa altogether?” (She was seemingly oblivious to the waves of furious anger such a move would unleash in every pub in the land.)
“I don’t think that sort of gesture politics does you any good, having done one myself,” came the reply, from the man who walked out of the BBC in such a way 10 years ago.
After he pretended to slit his throat during the World Cup draw last year, Mr Dyke’s knack of setting out the intractability of a problem is not to be questioned.
Since Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, “eight of the committee members [who voted for it] have had to resign over corruption”.
In almost every case, that corruption has been exposed by the British press. Why, then, would Fifa “vote to subject themselves to that kind of scrutiny?”
That, very clearly, is not in the Dear Leader’s interests. And though Mr Dyke will not be hailing him, now or ever, Blatter lives on.