Fifa uncovered: But publication of the Garcia report cannot wipe the slate


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It was with characteristic self-belief that Fifa’s president Sepp Blatter declared yesterday that “the crisis at Fifa is over”.

Few outside the world of football’s governing body, however, will set much store by his words.

Certainly, a deliberately secretive and stubborn organisation has been forced into doing something it didn’t want to do: to publish its own report into corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids. And only one person – the report’s own author – had to resign to make it happen.

But beneath the labyrinthine world of committees and administrators, reports and investigations, the fundamental fact has not changed. The 2022 World Cup will take place in Qatar, almost certainly in the winter, and Fifa’s own rules will have to be bent and backdated to accommodate it.

Mr Blatter asked the world to “look forward” and said his organisation would “not revisit” the decision it made four years ago. But it is impossible to look forward to Qatar 2022 without looking back at that decision. They are one and the same thing.

Mr Blatter hopes the publication of the Garcia report will restore credibility to Fifa, something he clearly wants to do, but Fifa and football must brace themselves for eight long years trapped in this entirely discredited twilight zone. It cannot begin to move forward, to look credible again, until Mr Blatter is gone.

Come the next presidential election in May 2015, he will be 79 years old. In the meantime, he has very publicly asked the Lord for the “good health and good luck” to continue, and stand for a fifth term as leader. Football is the ultimate zero-sum game, and Mr Blatter shows no sign of ending his own personal one. For as long as he is winning, the game is losing.