After all the recent allegations of corruption and bribery, FIFA President Sepp Blatter should have come out at this afternoon’s Press Conference to answer the hard questions posed to him, sadly Blatter looked as though he was doing his best Comical Ali impersonation, auditioning for a part in Fawlty Towers.
Blatter has been President of World Football’s Governing Body, FIFA, since 1998 and looks set to be re-elected once again unopposed after allegations of bribery and corruption led to Presidential opponent Mohamed bin Hammam being conveniently suspended along with fellow Executive committee member and FIFA Vice President Jack Warner, just days before the vote was to take place.
A FIFA Ethics committee – no laughing at the back – on Sunday suspended Bin Hammam and FIFA Vice President Jack Warner pending a full inquiry into allegations football officials in the Caribbean were paid US$40,000 each to back Hammam’s bid for FIFA presidency.
However the Qatari has lodged a request with FIFA to file an appeal so that he could be reinstated ahead of the June 1st congress, where FIFA executives vote for a new President.
A statement on Bin Hammam’s website read:
“Mohamed Bin Hammam will not accept yesterday’s decision by the Fifa ethics committee. As he is only allowed to appeal against the motivated decision by the Fifa ethics committee, he urgently requested this by Tuesday to be able to file his appeal in due time and to revoke the provisional ban before Wednesday’s congress is starting.
“There are many open questions: What was the discussion in the ethics committee and how did the ethics committee come to its conclusion? There are many other questions which need to be answered and transparency is urgently needed.
“The way these proceedings have been conducted is absolutely not compliant with any principles of justice. I am punished before I am found guilty.
“I get the impression that the outcome of these proceedings had been defined from the very beginning as it has been made evident at the press conference on Sunday evening at which Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke showed his bias very clearly.
“This is not acceptable as the Fifa ethics committee is supposed to be a fully independent body. Therefore, I also expect the further investigation to be influenced and manipulated.”
Despite further allegations of corruption at the feet of Blatter, the FIFA Generalissimo, was cleared by the FIFA Ethics Committee of any wrong-doing.
While today’s performance in front of the cameras proved once and for all that Blatter was not willing to answer simple and direct questions, it also proved that a vote of no confidence MUST be lodged against Blatter and his FIFA Presidency. However it is unlikely that the members of FIFA will come out in force to oust Blatter given the support he has in Eastern Europe, Africa and within the America’s also. Support allegedly helped out by ‘gifts’ to football projects handed out by Blatter personally.
Blatter was rattled, significantly so, as some of the reporters listening on at his ramblings got fed up with his constant deflection and dodging of questions, using FIFA protocol as a whip to beat pertinent and direct questions away.
The questions were not easy to answer, they were hard-hitting trying to get to the root of all of FIFA’s recent problems, but Blatter demanded respect from the assembled media pointing out that he was showing them respect, as he denied that there was any crisis just ‘serious difficulties’. Sadly his continued inability to answer the questions or should I say unwillingness to answer the questions, disrespected the assembled media during his pointless dictatorial speech, that tried to pass off as a credible FIFA Press Conference.
The resentment from Blatter extended far beyond that of the assembled journalists, to that of governments calling for the Presidential election to be postponed.
“If governments try to intervene then something is wrong,” Blatter said. “I think Fifa is strong enough that we can deal with our problems inside Fifa.”
Britain’s Sports Minister, Hugh Robertson, said the whole saga was fast becoming farcical:
“It’s impossible to have a sensible election when both of the candidates have been accused of corruption. The sensible thing would be to suspend the election until these allegations have been properly investigated.”
During his dictatorial Fawlty Towers-esque press conference in Zurich, Blatter welcomed the findings of an independent inquiry which cleared four members of FIFA’s Executive Committee over allegations made by former FA Chairman Lord Triesman.
“The executive committee of Fifa was very pleased to receive the report of the FA regarding the allegations made by Lord Triesman at the House of Commons,” he said. “We were happy that we can confirm there are no elements in this report which would even prompt any proceedings.”
Blatter admitted that the governing body’s reputation was at a low point.
“I have tried for years to make Fifa’s reputation the highest possible,” he said. “I regret what has happened in the last few days and weeks, [causing]great damage to the image of Fifa and a lot of disappointment for football fans. When I entered Fifa 36 years ago, we had no problems. We had no problems until 1998, this was the so-called ‘very modest’ Fifa. Now we are a ‘comfortable’ Fifa. I think we are too comfortable and some people like that.
“We are in a game and all the little devils can enter the game. We have to fight against these devils. We have started to fight. We are in a very bad situation but, starting on Wednesday, the football family has the opportunity and they have to take it: if they want to restore the credibility of Fifa, and if they want to restore it with me.”
Despite questions directed to Blatter in relation to counter-claims by Jack Warner, the 75-year-old Swiss official refused to comment, and rejected claims that the vote for the 2022 World Cup to be held again following Qatar controversially winning the right to host the tournament.
“There is no issue for the World Cup in 2022,” said Blatter. “I believe that the decision taken for the World Cup in 2022 was done exactly in the same pattern and in the same way as the 2018 tournament.”
Football fans across the world and journalists alike are now fed up at the whole lack of transparency from FIFA and Blatter’s comical escapades, which are making a mockery out of World Football. The use of Social Networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook by fans and journalists now show the unity on show against Sepp Blatter and FIFA.
The recent goings-on within FIFA are now looking more and more damaging to the organisation’s commercial interests, which is possibly the only way these officials who seem to be above the law – will be held accountable for.
Two of FIFA’s largest sponsors – Coca-Cola and Adidas – expressed concern at the much publicised in-fighting.
“The current allegations being raised are distressing and bad for the sport,” said a Coca-Cola spokesperson. “We have every expectation that Fifa will resolve this situation in an expedient and thorough manner.”
And an Adidas spokesman said:
“The negative tenor of the public debate around Fifa at the moment is neither good for football nor for Fifa and its partners.”
Maybe that is what will force FIFA’s hand to finally oust Blatter, his cronies and the corrupt officials, when the organisation is hit in the pocket financially.