Woe is FIFA…..
It seems almost incredible that after all the murky revelations that have surrounded the governance of FIFA, and in particular Sepp Blatter’s utterly corrupt leadership of this unbelievably crooked organisation, that the English Football Association should continue to support Michel Platini and wish him well in ‘clearing his name.’
Long-term readers of my blog will know that I have ranted and railed against FIFA and Blatter for many years – long before it was fashionable to do so.
Since the proverbial ‘shit hit the fan’ back in May, I have stayed on the sidelines as there is such a thing as “information overkill”, and I have largely left it to the so-called professionals to update us this never-ending story.
But I cannot let the Platini issue to pass without making a few comments.
Michel Platini, was a French football superstar, who after retirement became a close friend and acolyte of Sepp Blatter. In return for his friendship and support, Blatter awarded Platini a nice little earner, working for FIFA.
Platini worked for Blatter from 1998 to 2002, apparently “reforming the international match calendar” and working on “the Goal Programme – a FIFA assistance and support scheme for the poorest associations”.
For this work, he was paid 300,000 Swiss Francs per annum. This equates to approx. £200k/or $315k – not a bad salary for an ex-footballer, without any academic qualifications. In fact, he was paid the exactly the same salary as the President of FIFA – Blatter himself. Not a bad deal for Platini by any standards, one might think, getting the same salary as his boss for a bit of admin work.
Now ‘fast forward’ to 2007, when Platini was elected as President of the Union of European Football Associations, (UEFA). His role as EEFA President made him one of the most powerful men in world football, probably second only to Blatter himself.
His term as President has been marked with some innovative changes in the structure and management of European football and for this Platini has deservedly received many plaudits. But during all this time he continued to be a close confidant and right-hand man of the corrupt FIFA Chief, Sepp Blatter, and he actively supported him in all his dealings.
In November, 2010, Platini met Bin Hammam – the son of the Emir of Qatar and the country’s prime minister – for breakfast. This was shortly before the Platini and Bin Hamman met Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, for lunch at the Elysée Palace.
These meetings were one month before the World Cup vote in which the world cup venues for the 2018 and 2022 competitions would be decided.
We now know from leaked documents that Bin Hamman personally lobbied Mr Platini to support the Emirate’s bid. We also know that Bin Hamman:-
- Discussed trade deals with many of the officials and countries who were eligible to vote in the decision in 2010, including a gas deal in Thailand.
- Offered car dealerships to FIFA members.
- Discussed internships and jobs for family members of some FIFA members.
- Distributed £3 million in bribes to FIFA delegates.
This was one month before the World Cup vote in which the venues for the 2018 and 2022 competitions would be decided.
In December, 2010, Platini voted for Qatar for the 2022 World cup venue, even though later he admitted it would be too hot there in the summer and that the competition should be moved to the winter, which will create untold fixture confusion and misery for all European clubs. And let’s not forget he is still he is their President, elected to look after European football clubs’ interests.
In 2011, Platini’s son, Laurent, started working for Qatar Sports Investments, an arm of the Qatari government and owners of Paris Saint-Germain. He later became the chief executive of Burrda, a Qatari-owned sports company.
Platini denies there is any connection between his son’s employment by an ‘arm’ of the Qatar government and his decision to vote for Qatar.
You follow me so far? It already stinks to high heaven.
He voted for Qatar, which was totally contrary to the best interests of every European Football team, and his son landed himself a plum job working for Qatar. I wonder what else was promised.
When a few newspapers started to suggest that the Qatar job for Laurent was a bribe, poor little Platini Jr was outraged.
“To think for a single second that my father can be bought on the pretext that I work for the Qataris is just unbelievable,” he remonstrated. “People who know us know that we’re people of integrity, both of us.”
Yet when the reign of ‘Emperor Blatter’ started to disintegrate earlier this year, the representatives of every European Football Association unanimously maintained their total support for Platini as the next president of FIFA.
What does this tell you about these people, including the English FA, who were at the forefront of supporting the Platini candidacy to replace Blatter?
They continued to give him their total support in spite of the fact that every single one of them must have known that there was something distinctly underhand about Platini’s support of Qatar in 2010. They’re not that stupid – they simply decided to turn a ‘blind eye’.
Why? We can only speculate. Maybe they’re all secretly hoping they will the beneficiaries or some future ‘bungs’ from the rich Arabs. Or maybe they are scared that Platini may have something ‘on them’?
And all this happened before the real scandal emerged.
In October this year, both Platini and Blatter have been suspended from their positions for 90 days while the Swiss Attorney General investigates a £1.3 million suspected criminal payment made to Platini in 2011
Platini claims that the payment of 2 million Swiss francs (about $2 million) was unpaid additional salary for his job as Blatter’s adviser between 1998 and 2002.
Platini or Blatter have not produced any written contract to show the money was owed to him and he states that it was a ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’. When asked why it took 9 years, (or 12 years from the start of the alleged arrangement) to make the payment, Platini tells us that FIFA did not have sufficient funds in 2002, which does not hold up to scrutiny if you look at FIFA’s Accounts for that year.
So Platini was paid a total of 3.2 million Swiss Francs for 4 years work on competition schedules and a charitable programme for poor countries. That works out at 800K Swiss Francs per annum, or £550,000 or $850,000. PER YEAR!
Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that it is all a load of arrant nonsense. Does anyone believe for one minute that He genuinely earned that kind of astronomical sum to perform a bit of administration work? An annual salary that was 83.3% more than the salary paid to the President of FIFA?
The 2 million francs was clearly a bribe to ensure Platini’s unswerving support for Blatter and to garner his influential vote for Blatter when he came up for re-election earlier this year.
I simply refuse to believe that anyone in the football business – particularly the European administrators have any explanation other than this monstrous payment was an out and out bribe.
But let’s give this man the benefit of the doubt. Let’s assume that Blatter did enter into an agreement back in 1998 to pay Platini this massive additional salary. How is it nobody knew about it? Why wasn’t it recorded in the books of account as an expense and unpaid debt? Why wasn’t there any contract whatsoever?
FIFA is a multi-billion dollar organisation that controls the world’s most popular sport, which involves hundreds of millions of football-loving people throughout the world.
How on earth can two of the most senior members of such a vast and prestigious organisation enter into such dubious work arrangements involving large sums of money without any paperwork?
That alone is a shocking scandal – even if you believe there was ever such an agreement back in 1998… quite frankly, even my six-year-old Thai step-daughter would laugh at the very idea.
Platini has publicly questioned whether Sepp Blatter leaked details of the £1.3 million payment between them in order to ‘kill him politically‘ Oh dear – criminals falling out with each other?
Then he did a U-turn. Despite his misgivings over how the payment came to light, Platini admitted that he “admired” Blatter.
“He has a lot of charm and I can say that I was somehow bewitched. Even if he wants to kill me politically, I still have a little affection for what we experienced together.”
Yet can you believe what happened next? After all that has come to light, our FA representatives, along with the rest of the European football federations, continued to give the suspended UEFA President Platini their total backing.
Finally, when bumbling Dyke and the rest of his FA gang realised that they would have to ‘cool’ their support for Platini, pending the results of the investigation, they still concluded their meeting with a message of goodwill to their embattled leader:
“The FA wishes Mr Platini every success in fighting these charges and clearing his name,”
Honestly, you just couldn’t make this up.
The only action that is going to save FIFA, UEFA and all the other football associations around the world is to have a complete and total clear-out of every single person who is currently holding any kind of football administrative position.
They must bring in professional independents in to run world football until a new, transparent and democratic structure is put in place.
And why, I wonder, didn’t the FA wish the Swiss and American prosecutors every success in nailing the crooks at the heart of football and put them in jail?
The first thing this newly constituted independent FIFA organisation should do is to hold a new process for the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup venues. That would show they mean business.
How about Mobi for FIFA President?
Yeah, there’s about as much chance of Mobi becoming president as there is to expose all the corruption at the heart of FIFA and to get a new, independent management team in place.