By Tony Attwood
In the past the EU has had quite an impact on football – sometimes positively sometimes not (in my opinion of course).
Its rules gave us the Bosman ruling, which I rather like, and gave us the free movement of players, as with all workers in the EU, which I totally applaud. It split the Sky franchise for TV in the UK, which I wasn’t happy about, and it looks like it might be sorting out the way in which the EPL sells football on TV to individual states separately (that’s the case following the pub landlady in Portsmouth who shows English matches at 3pm in her pub, from a Greek TV feed).
Now it seems to be interested in those arch-enemies of civilisation and decent behaviour: Fifa.
In short the European Union has said that reforming Fifa is a “key priority” for it. Given the radical nature of some of its findings in the past, this could lead to a total overthrow of the Dark Empire. Not least because the Evil Overlords (Fifa) have a rule that says that when the state interferes with football, the country is ejected from Fifa. So the question is, if the EU (not an organisation known for backing down to petty dictators and fraudulent crooks – what with it being the second largest economic bloc in the world) takes a stand, what will Fifa do? Throw everyone in Europe out? Oh yes, please.
But, will it happen? Sepp Blatter will probably win another term in office in June this year, and will continue to promise to investigate and then do bugger all. At least that is what he has done in the past.
Alex Horne, the FA general secretary had written to Fifa offering it full assistance as it investigates… well, itself. Just as any complaint against the FA is investigated by the FA. Typical, but hardly helpful.
It is curious this. It is a bit like the English inspection department Ofsted, which inspects itself and then gives itself a top grade rating, and holds a party to celebrate. What good does that do? The truth is none at all, which is why, when I wrote to Revenue and Customs (the UK tax collector) and offered to inspect my own company’s tax records to prove we were paying the right amount of tax, in order to save the state time, they declined my offer. You simply can’t investigate yourself. It doesn’t work. But somehow Fifa, Uefa, the FA and the Premier League haven’t learned that.
Fifa’s general secretary, Jérôme Valcke, has written to the FA and expressed “extreme concern” at the allegations – which could mean the FA and England being thrown out of Fifa (which would be good) but I rather fear it won’t happen.
The English position is weakened enormously by the fact that no one said a word about corruption while they thought we might win the bid for the World Cup. Indeed as I pointed out in the last piece, the authorities were up in arms over the BBC’s TV programme which pointed out how corrupt Fifa is, saying that it “damaged the bid”. The credibility of such people would be enhanced if they admitted they were duped, and that they were, as a result utterly unfit, to be part of the English football scene. Unfortunately they are all still in place.
If the EU do get involved we might see something happen, because the EU is the only body not tainted by involvement with Fifa. Otherwise, I fear nothing will move on, and the monopolies will investigate themselves and declare themselves clean.
As the old one liner says, “There is only one Monopolies Commission”
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