FIFA Scandal Part 3
By Zaheer E. Clarke
Published October 12, 2015
In Sicilian crime families, there is an organizational structure. A boss or don is the head of the crime family. His second in command or future successor is the underboss, and his advisor or counselor often acts as his consigliere. These three comprise the “Administration”, or the ruling panel in the crime family.
Last week, the Mafia-esque administration of the most popular worldwide sport, football, was disbarred by its Ethics Committee. Sepp Blatter, the boss or don of FIFA for over 17 years; his purported favourite son, future successor or underboss, FIFA Vice President Michael Platini; and general secretary of FIFA, Jérôme Valcke, Blatter’s consigliere or ‘fixer’, were all provisionally suspended for 90 days for alleged ethical breaches. The Ethics Committee stated that the suspensions could be extended a further 45 days while investigations continue. Are there ethics among Mafia lords? It would appear so.
For Blatter and Platini, these events were precipitated by the supposedly disloyal or ‘hush’ payment from Blatter to Platini for Platini’s non-challenge of Blatter leading up to the 2011 Presidential Election. Blatter and Platini have defiantly denied this, with Platini claiming that the US$2 million payment was the final outstanding payment for work done for FIFA from 1998 to 2002. However, many have questioned the timing of the payment, nine years after the completion of the work, and three months before the 2011 Presidential election. Is it coincidental or strategical, many have asked?
Valcke’s suspension is allegedly over the sale and profiteering off 2014 World Cup tickets at billowed prices. Albeit, Valcke’s name is not novel to allegations of unscrupulous ploys; however, since become Blatter’s right-hand man and second in command at FIFA in 2007, many believe Valcke is the one who does the Blatter’s dirty work while Blatter appears saintly clean. Now it seems both Blatter and Valcke hands, including Platini’s, are dirty. Or, is this more stratagem by their opposers to remove them?
This seeming attack on FIFA since May of this year by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and their Swiss counterparts led to the arrests and indictments of 14 individuals, including former CONCACAF presidents and former FIFA vice presidents, Jack Warner and Jeffrey Webb, just days before the 2015 Presidential election. Surprisingly or unsurprisingly, Blatter won the election against the Platini-backed challenger Prince Ali bin al-Hussein amidst allegations of racketeering, fraud, corruption, and money laundering at the feet of some of Blatter’s strongest lieutenants. The untouchable Blatter shockingly declared days after his win that he would step down as FIFA president. This lead to fresh Presidential elections earmarked for February 26, 2016, at FIFA’s extraordinary congress.
Fortuitously, Prince Ali who put forward an election bid up against his former backer and Blatter’s heir apparent, Platini, is now the clear frontrunner with Platini provisionally banned. If FIFA’s Ethics Committee extends its ban of Platini, Blatter and Valcke a further 45 days, this would leave Platini only six days to get his election machinery in order before the congress. Are the Swiss authorities and the FBI trying to influence who becomes the leader of the most powerful and wealthy sport in the world? Several individuals believe so and have hinted at the timing of the FBI indictments in May, which were two days before FIFA’s last congress.
If the plan in May was to derail Blatter’s reign, it worked, though he won the election. If this move by the Swiss authorities is to further influence or cause a systematic change in the leadership of FIFA, it might work, but don’t hold your breath, my friends. Don’t hold your breath.
An obstreperous Platini after the allegations of the disloyal payment came to the fore, hinted at, yet declared his disbelief at the possibility of political influence or interference against his bid to become President of FIFA. He remarked, “Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the Fifa presidency.” He further said, “I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.”
An embattled Warner, whom like Blatter, Platini and Valcke, was suspended by FIFA’s Ethics Committee, a few days ago while purporting Mafia-esque silence on any contrivances in FIFA, alleged said the following to Sky Sports News’ Roger Clarke via emails, “Let me state at the outset that I take no pleasure in seeing the demise of colleagues in the FIFA with whom I once worked despite the shabby and unfair manner in which they treated me.
As far as I am concerned two wrongs would never make a right and I could never support this witch-hunt that is now taking place and which has been initiated by the USA for reasons obvious to even the blind.
Most of these guys in FIFA, if not all, at one time were my friends and together we worked hard to improve the standard of football globally.
That we have drifted apart is no reason to shred the memories that we shared, ignore the strides we have made or even plot against the freedom of each other.
However, I will continue to maintain my silence and say nothing about the FIFA and the problems it is experiencing today. Suffice it to say that Sepp Blatter and Jerome Valcke are the cause of their own demise; a demise which started on May 17, 2011, when they both wrongly hounded Bin Hammam and me out of office using the Blatter-invented and controlled FIFA Ethics Committee. Today the tables have turned, proving once again, that what goes around comes around.”
Warner is on point and is probably, like me, listening to some Bob Marley songs as he prepares for his extradition battle. As I’ve said repeatedly since June, I believe FIFA without a doubt is Byzantine and Silician in its operations – barring the killing – but I could be wrong. Until disproven, I’ll continue to utter as Bob Marley did in one of his songs, “Who the cap fit, let them wear it.”
Until next time…
© Zaheer Clarke
From the “Lies & Statistics” column in the Western Mirror (Published October 12, 2015)