Robin Scott-Elliot: Fifa is in the crisis – not that they realise it

It takes more than scandal to disturb the serenity of football's governing body

Share
Related Topics

The excitement was tangible. Cup final day in Switzerland and hundreds of FC Sion fans festooned in red and white packed the main hall of Basle station, anthems booming over the concourse. Outside, riot police sweated in their vans. There was no sign of a disturbance. But an hour's train ride away, in the hills above Zurich, the scene was less peaceful.



For a body facing the worst crisis of its 107-year history, there was little sense of siege outside Fifa's headquarters, a squat building swaddled in steel netting and smoked glass that sits amid well-tended flower beds and football pitches. A sunny Sunday afternoon in a Zurich suburb does not encourage uprising, and there was no sense of the football tsunami Jack Warner, one of the accused and a key player in Fifa, has threatened is heading football's way as allegations and counter-allegations mount.

It is one of the curiosities of the recent months of growing scandal – serious and convincing claims of widespread corruption among the body that oversees the world's most popular sport – that national interest has been largely confined to the UK media. England's disastrous finale to its 2018 World Cup bid was blamed by some on media attacks on Fifa and the suspect practices of some Executive Committee members.

Yesterday the majority of print journalists at the press conference were from British newspapers. This is a body that now has an income of $1bn (£606m), monies that largely stem from the World Cup, the destination of which is determined by 24 men. Ten of them have been the subject of accusations of impropriety at one stage or another.

The first to face the ethics committee, a body that triggers a snigger among the more cynical Fifa watchers, was Chuck Blazer, the ample-figured New Yorker who brought the current, and most serious, round of allegations to the governing body's attention; bundles of hundreds of $100 notes, brown envelopes – meaty ingredients to stir into a murky stew.

The accused followed: Jack Warner, a 28-year Fifa veteran, Mohamed Bin Hammam, hours after he pulled out of the presidential contest, and finally Sepp Blatter, the man who some claim has turned Fifa into his fiefdom during a 13- year reign. He brought no legal representation. By 5pm it was over, and an hour later the media were given the announcement. On the desk where Petrus Damaseb, the Namibian judge who chaired the committee, sat was a football – a Fifa-approved Adidas football.

The sportswear giants are one of football's biggest sponsors, but last week they voiced their disquiet over the swirl of allegations that bounced from smart hotels in the Caribbean to the scenic shores of Lake Zurich to Westminster, the Middle East and back again. How much more will they and other backers put up with?

A fountain outside Fifa HQ has a steel plaque attached to it that bears the name Sepp Blatter. On Wednesday it seems inevitable – he is uncontested – that the 75-year-old Swiss will be returned for a fourth term as Fifa president "We do not need revolution" has been his theme. There is no sign of one happening in Zurich.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Direct Mail Machine Operative

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an i...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: a duchess by any other name is just wrong

Guy Keleny
A teenage girl uses her smartphone in bed.  

Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb

Janet Street-Porter
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The officials are caught in the web of US legal imperialism - where double standards don't get in the way

Caught in the web of legal imperialism

The Fifa officials ensnared by America's extraterritorial authority are only the latest examples of this fearsome power, says Rupert Cornwell
Bruce Robinson: Creator of Withnail and I on his new book about Jack the Ripper

'Jack the Ripper has accrued a heroic aura. But I'm going after the bastard'

The deaths of London prostitutes are commonly pinned on a toff in a top hat. But Bruce Robinson, creator of Withnail and I, has a new theory about the killer's identity
Simon Stephens interview: The playwright on red-blooded rehearsals, disappointing his children - and why plays are like turtles

Simon Stephens interview

The playwright on red-blooded rehearsals, disappointing his children - and why plays are like turtles
Holidaying with a bike nut: Cycling obsessive Rob Penn convinces his wife to saddle up

Holidaying with a bike nut

Cycling obsessive Rob Penn convinces his wife to saddle up
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef pays homage to South-east Asia's palate-refreshing desserts

Bill Granger's fruity Asian desserts

Our chef's refreshing desserts are a perfect ending to a spicy, soy-rich meal
Fifa presidential election: What is the best way to see off Sepp Blatter and end this farce?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

What is the best way to see off Sepp Blatter and end this farce?
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison