Jings! I've just come across this piece I wrote in May 2011, on a long-defunct blog, back when I were a whippersnapper. Goes to show that scandal and corruption are all part of a giant merry-go-round, doesn't it? I was probably quite hard on the SFA, but they were different times...
“Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men, I owe to football."
That is just so true, innit? I dunno why Camus bothered doing any more philosophical writing after that. It should have won him the Nobel Prize on its own. It’s a volley into the top corner, sweet as a nut. Which is pretty unusual when you consider that he played as a goalkeeper, although that does explain the nuttiness.
‘Cos football is a metaphor for life, obviously. Haven’t we all felt isolated in life’s midfield, with the ball sailing constantly over our heads or being passed rhythmically around us by pint-sized guys with foreign accents? Or been on the verge of scoring a brilliant individual goal with the girl of our dreams, only to balloon it over the bar by allowing her to witness us trying to eat a bowl of spaghetti? And who, unexpectedly bereft of a Kleenex, hasn’t publicly honked a nostril-ful of mucus into the nearest available piece of turf? They can’t all be just me, surely?
And if football is the medium through which philosophers make sense of life, then FIFA panjandrum Sepp Blatter must be some sort of philosopher-king. Of course, he’s not the sort of philosopher to drink hemlock and not the sort of king to put up with dissent, especially from a rabble of journalists bent on trouble. He gazes serenely down from his sedan chair at the torrents of sewage gurgling by and perceives a minor plumbing issue rather than a cholera outbreak. You might ask him how this could have happened on his watch, but the only thing he can see on his watch is Mickey Mouse pointing to time for you to shut up.
To be fair to Sepp, he has hit on a wizard solution to the bribery and corruption surrounding FIFA elections. Simply accept him as the one and only candidate for the top job, from now until his death and even beyond. Death won’t be the end for Sepp; he’ll just prise himself off the toasting fork and do a deal with Satan for the World Cup Finals of 2026 to take place in Hell. It’s only a few degrees hotter than Qatar, after all.
In Sepp’s view, we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads with muck-raking, because this is just a minor series of difficulties within the FIFA family. He’s right about the “family” part: they’re riddled with mutual hatred, badmouth each other at every opportunity and squabble like rats in a sack when it looks like there’s money up for grabs. If they moved in next to you, before you’d had time to throw together a welcoming lemon drizzle cake they’d have got your children hooked on crack, set their Rottweiler on Uncle Albert and turned the estate into a no-go area for the police.
But as head of the family, Sepp’s in control. Give him untrammelled power and he’ll sort them out. Into the FIFA Council meeting he’ll go, baseball bat in hand like Robert de Niro in The Untouchables. You give me no respect? Blatt. You got no sense of fair play? Blatt. You got a bad attitude? Blatt. Is that a camera in your hand? Blatt. Blatt. Blatt.
So if FIFA are playing the role of a problem family, who’s playing the role of Haringey Social Services, tut-tutting from a distance and not showing up at the front door for fear of being eaten? Step forward, England’s very own Football Association, with their Scottish counterparts tucked neatly into their shirt pocket. They’re such perfect enemies for Sepp that you’d think he actually bribed them to oppose him.
Just look at the FA’s jaw-droppingly naïve 2018 World Cup hosting bid. What a team! David Cameron, sucking up to everyone from the outset while Putin stayed at home until the decision was in the bag. David Beckham, wandering distractedly from cupboard to cupboard wondering why no-one else was turning up to meetings. And Prince William, ‘cos the foreigners will be impressed by a bit of royalty, won’t they? They’d have been better sending Kate, or preferably that sister of hers with the cute bum.
Everyone they spoke to asked for a bribe of some sort, but they just laughed it off because they were too dim to realize that people were being serious. They got a derisory two votes, and even that was only because their own representative’s vote for a country called “Ingerland” was allowed to stand.
As for the SFA, after a Scottish football season pock-marked by touchline mayhem, referees’ revolts, sectarian hatred and death threats to managers, you’d have thought they might just want to stay out of the limelight for a while. They make the Keystone Cops look like the SAS.
So Sepp Blatter continues to rule supreme. Who can stop him? FA and Sweet FA.
They think it’s all over. It will be shortly.