What a difference a week makes! This time last week we were wallowing in reports of an unnamed footballers antics which left many quietly despairing of the British media. Today, however, showcases what is best about a free press and investigative journalism.
It is a fact that 90 per cent of the journalists who attended yesterday’s twin farces at FIFA HQ in Zurich, namely the Ethics Committee findings into bribery and Sepp Blatter’s press conference, were British. Does the rest of the footballing world not care? Well apparently not, because FIFA’s “difficulties”, to quote Sepp, only make page 11 of L’Equipe in France and page 15 of Gazetto Della Sport in Italy.
To those who weren’t following yesterday’s events I can offer a quick recap. We now know (we even have photographic evidence) that bribes of $40,000 each were handed out to members of FIFA to try and get them to vote for the chap who was going to run against Sepp for the FIFA Presidency.
We also now know that Sepp himself was handing out money, computers and other IT equipment to Caribbean football projects only a few weeks ago. Of course this wasn’t in order to get their votes. Oh no, nice Uncle Sepp wouldn’t do a naughty thing like that, they were gifts!
We have also had it confirmed that Qatar’s winning World Cup bid was also probably oiled by bribes to FIFA ExCo members, 11 of whom out of a total of 24 are now tainted by corruption.
Actually that one isn’t much of a surprise. Nobody in their right minds would award a World Cup to a country with no football infrastructure and temperatures of 50 degrees centigrade in July! For crying out loud not even the Arabs stay in Qatar in July!
There are a number of points here. Firstly, it is now clear that the Prime Minister, heir to the throne and the entire FA had no business dealing with this organisation in December of last year. I’m no monarchist but I sincerely hope that was the last time any heir to the throne is asked to prostrate themselves in front of FIFA.
Secondly, many will argue that these revelations are clear evidence that the media must be allowed to investigate whoever and wherever it wants. I’m afraid I still don’t buy that. There is in my mind a clear difference between institutional corruption and personal, private issues.
Finally, I would like to know when we can expect the fulsome public apologies from those politicians, ex-footballers and journalists (I’m looking at you David Cameron, Ian Wright and Henry Winter) who poured scorn on the timing of the Panorama and Sunday Times revelations of bribery and corruption (I specifically remember the term unpatriotic being used) which were made only two days before the FIFA ExCo vote in December last year?
Gentlemen, we are all waiting!