By Tony Attwood
So where have we got to?
The first extraordinary thing about all this Fifa malarky was the fact that Fifa could have avoided the trouble either by keeping an eye on the change made to Swiss law last December, which allowed the Americans to get arrest warrants executed on Swiss soil. You’d have thought that an organisation with their much money might have been a trifle careful.
Or indeed as I might have pointed out once or twice before they could have read Untold where we not only said the law changed, but also noted the view that Fifa will probably change the location of its next gathering to a country that didn’t have such a deal. Even I didn’t think they were so stupid as to turn up again.
Perhaps the second extraordinary thing is that one might have expected the FA to have pulled back from its association with Fifa. It has after all paid dues to the organisation, and spent £16m in a bid to hold one of its awful events (no tax will be paid by Fifa on any event, only our endorsed products will be sold, and we want our own lane on the motorway to and from the airports and in each city).
But even that is outdone by the fact that the utterly shameless FA and the British government is even now trying to do more business with Fifa – and the British media is talking this bid up.
At least the chairman of Football Federation Australia, Frank Lowy, has come out and said that his nation’s failed 2022 World Cup bid was “naive”. No such admission from the FA on its last bid.
In Australia journalists are calling for the head of their FA to resign. In England there is the announcement that we are ready to take over the World Cup when asked.
The head of the Australian bid has at least said of that time, “But did we make mistakes? Yes. Were we naive? In some cases, yes. Would we do things differently in future? Absolutely.” From the FA, nothing much along the same lines.
But gradually the net is extending. The latest incident to get caught up was the match between Ireland and France in which Thierry Henry was thought to have handballed the ball, but a goal was given.
This was a typical ref error – they go on all the time. We chart them on Untold. They happen because Fifa and Uefa won’t endorse full and proper use of technology and leave each association to run its own refereeing system. That is how we ended up with the secretive bunch of turnips known as PGMO running refereeing in the Premier League.
Mind you that Henry handball affair might explain why France voted for Blatter at the Fifa election.
Anyway, it seems, in the aftermath Fifa paid Ireland €5m. Now you’d think that if there was any dispute over what the money was for someone would pop up and show the invoice or a receipt. But no, this is world football, of which the FA in England is proud to be a part. The FAI say it was a for not taking Fifa to court. Fifa says it was a ‘loan to build stadium’ which was subsequently written off when Ireland didn’t make it to the world cup finals.
Strange that no one in Ireland ever told us about this at the time.
Still, I think the strain of trying to maintain such an impossible position as they are now holding is starting to show on our media. Today in the Independent for example there is a headline on their football pages on line that says, “Arsenal hungry to win the FA cup.” But maybe they are just being forward looking.