By Tony Attwood
Platini is no revolutionary but a hindrance to true change at rotten Fifa
That headline from the Daily Telegraph marked an interesting moment in the history of commentary on Uefa and Fifa, one of the first articles that turned against Platini in the English press, and which started to question Uefa.
And that is interesting, because if you question Uefa, you inevitably have to question the FA – which as you may know has been my hobbyhorse for as long as Untold has been here.
It is an important moment because The Football Association with its endless political and financial troubles has always backed Michel Platini as the next Fifa president, even though Platini has long been Blatter’s “special adviser.” One wonders what advice he gave. But still there is little doubt that the two would work well together – although whether either should be allowed into any position of power is the bigger question, and one that until now the press has utterly refused to contemplate.
It might have been hoped that the questions about the £1.3m payment from Sepp Blatter to Platini could be a catalyst to a rethink of the old-boys network at Wembley, but it seems that it won’t. They will plough on regardless.
Platini has been questioned by the Swiss attorney general’s office and has been “asked to provide information”. It is being suggested that there is something odd about not asking for £1.3m you are owed for years and years and years (well nine years actually). But I suppose you can become forgetful in older age (I know I do). However the money was described by Swiss authorities as a “disloyal” payment – one against the interests of Fifa and thus corrupt. But maybe that has been forgotten too.
Annoying though this is, it could finally work in the reformists’ favour, for if Platini falls they maybe, just maybe, the endless arse licking that the boys and girls in the media engage in towards the FA could be stopped and they might actually ask questions about bizarre and dubious “presents” to Fifa members, the gross incompetence that led to the end of the Sport England grant (the press’ response was to print an FA press release without asking a question), the endless loss making ventures and the consequent utter screw up of finances which recently led to multiple redundancies, and beyond everything the failure to grow grass roots football.
It is hard to imagine it is not a spoof set up by Private Eye, but this is the FA’s latest outpouring of love: “In July, the FA board decided unanimously to support Michel Platini if he intended to stand for the presidency of Fifa. We did so because we thought he was an excellent president of Uefa and could bring those same leadership qualities to Fifa. We are still of that view.
“However, events of recent days have raised a number of issues which do need to be fully examined. We are following the ongoing investigation initiated by the Swiss attorney general with which Mr Platini is cooperating in full. We also recognise that Mr Platini has contacted the Fifa ethics committee inviting them to look into the matter and to interview him.”
It has been suggested that a deal has been done between Platini and the FA in terms of the FA’s semi-skimmed notion that they can win the world cup by having quotas for homegrown players rather than by setting up a proper coaching system, as we suggested in our original research in March 2010. It has been republished numerous times now (although no one even mentions that it was our work, but that’s how it goes).
So the FA might have pledged support for Platini in return for his future help in bringing that crazy home grown notion about. The FA’s comments that they support Platini because he is the reformist candidate who can sort out Fifa, and that the quotas have never been discussed, should be taken with enough salt to open a salt mine.
For the ever bemused Dyke (now known in the trade as “Don’t give a fuck Dyke” – see below for an explanation) is quoted as saying, “We continue to have discussions with him [Platini] on our concerns about dwindling opportunities for homegrown players – a concern he shares. We are pleased Mr Platini has decided to stand as a candidate and we look forward to supporting him.”
The one good thing to come out of this could be that if Platini falls in the culling that is going on inside Fifa, the FA’s top brass could fall, and we could have a total reform of the old dinosaur. Although that remains a long shot.
Certainly the FA at present don’t know how to give up a dead cause. Recently Martin Glenn CEO of the FA entertained Platini at Wembley. “We had dinner with Michel the other night, we kind of know what his agenda is.” [Ah the royal wee].
“We think it would place English soccer well to have a guy like Michel running Fifa. We think he has huge experience in football, he talks about it in a way that makes sense and there is a reform process going on which will make sure Fifa is a very different beast, ” he said. Which pretty much opens it up should allegations about Platini prove to be valid.
Blatter however helped get Platini elected in 1998, employed him directly (hence the £1.3m fee) and Platini only jumped the sinking ship when it truly sank.
But it is not all plain sailing even on a sinking ship (if you see what I mean). Chung Mong-joon, another former Fifa vice-president who wants to succeed Blatter in February’s election, has called Platini “the son of Blatter”.
But maybe it is a good idea to let Greg and Platini work together. After all the BBC gave Greg a pay off of nearly half a million pounds after he messed up at the BBC. So Greg could be learning how to treble the payment one gets for doing the wrong thing – and who better to teach him than the men from world football.
Greg loves all this however. As he told the Guardian in an interview, “People keep coming up to me and saying: ‘Well done, you got rid of him!’” [Blatter]. “To which I say: ‘I think the FBI had more to do with it than me.’”
How very droll.
Apparently in the same interview he also said, “The advantage of being old – well, of being old and having made money – is that you don’t give a fuck.” But that bit didn’t appear in the paper. The media team started calling him Greg DGAF however, and the name it seems, lingers on.
And when you come to think about it, not giving a fuck is really the vision of the world that people seem to want in the FA because if they didn’t the attacks on the FA wouldn’t just be left to little old Untold Arsenal with the occasional hit from the Guardian.
- 1 October 1996: Arsène Wenger officially took up duties, as Arsenal’s first non-UK manager, and immediately confronted and defeated journalists, daring them to answer his question “what rumours?”
- 1 October 2000 Arsenal beat Man U as Henry, with his back to goal flicked the ball up before pivoting to strike the ball over Barthez. It started a five game winning run for Arsenal and was Man U’s first defeat of the season.