by Tony Attwood
The Serious Fraud Office is an independent UK Government department that investigates and prosecutes serious or complex fraud, and corruption.
And at long, long, long last it has announced that it is investigating money-laundering offences involving the bidding for the 2018 (Russia) and 2022 (Qatar) World Cups. It has announced this just as the moment that Sepp Blatter has claimed there was an agreement in place to award the tournaments to Russia in advance of the vote and another one for the 2022 which was changed as voting approached.
Which looks rather bad. But the FA has made matters far, far worse by admitting that it knew there was fraud going on during the bidding process. And indeed they could have hardly claimed otherwise. After all Andrew Jennings book, “FOUL! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals,” was published in 2006. Who couldn’t have known.
This makes the FA and all who worked on the bid themselves guilty of fraud, for it is fraud to engage in what you know to be a fraudulent process, and bidding in a fixed competition is engaging in a fraudulent process. (Of course it is also utterly dumb, but there’s no surprise there).
England, utterly ludicrously, spent millions of pounds bidding for the right to host the tournament, and got two votes, one of which was from… England. It made England the laughing stock of football and the FA Chairman responded by saying he would not bid again while Blatter was in the presidency – as if that was somehow an adequate response.
However there can be no doubt that Dyke knew the voting was rigged – indeed the Observer’s “Said and Done” column was endlessly running stories about Fifa corruption up to the moment of the bids. Indeed that column goes back to at least 2005 (and possibly earlier, I am not sure when it started).
In an attempt to deflect attention Dyke said the FA would now investigate the possibility of recovering the £21m spent on the failed bid. But the SFO, now investigating the bidding process and money that flowed through the UK, can now turn its attention to Dyke and his cronies who lavished gifts on Fifa voting delegates and had endless jollies in the name of the bid.
Blatter, of course himself a far from credible witness, said, “Everything was good until the moment when Sarkozy came in a meeting with the crown prince of Qatar, who is now the ruler of Qatar. And at a lunch afterwards with Mr Platini he said it would be good to go to Qatar. And this has changed all pattern…
“Four votes from Europe went away from the USA and so the result was 14 to eight. If you put the four votes, it would have been 12 to 10. If the USA was given the World Cup, we would only speak about the wonderful World Cup 2018 in Russia and we would not speak about any problems at Fifa.”
Blatter also said, “Fifa is working well. Since I became president of Fifa, we have made Fifa big commercial company. And this naturally provokes envy and jealousy.”
Meanwhile Greg Dyke, has given evidence to the culture, media and sport committee saying “We will look in detail at what Mr Blatter says. I suspect the response will be ‘I was misquoted’, but if he says that then I think there is something to investigate.
“There’s nothing Mr Blatter says that surprises me much. If he is saying ‘we wanted Russia’ and it looks like he wanted that fixed before the vote, it’s suggesting that it was all fixed anyway…
“We will obviously go back and look at it. I think it would be a good idea. But get the bid costs back from whom? From Fifa? I agree it would be very nice to get taxpayers’ money back.” My view is that the UK government should get its money back from the FA.
But meanwhile the attack on the truly incompetent Football Association has taken another turn as they will now be fully investigated over anti-discrimination cases – including that against Dr Eva Carneiro. Two FA council members made a complaint against the chair of the FA’s IAB Heather Rabbatts after she had raised concerns about the way the Dr Carneiro case has been handled.
Shall we get that right? The FA behave bizarrely over the Dr Carneiro case, the chair of the FAs Inclusion Advisory Board raises concerns and the FA’s response is to make a complaint against the chair of the IAB. You couldn’t make it up.
Now other members of the IAB have written to Greg Dyke and the FA council saying, “The FA Inclusion Advisory Board members have expressed deep concerns about a number of recent anti-discrimination cases. To this end, we are looking forward to meeting with Martin Glenn and Darren Bailey to discuss these issues in more depth and in the hope that we can continue to support the FA and its values to see inclusion and diversity developed across the game. In the meantime, we wish to express our unwavering support for Heather Rabbatts and further, to seek reassurance that she still has the full support of the FA board.
“We were concerned to see two members of the FA Council question Heather’s integrity this week with an FA enquiry now under way. Their seeming priorities surely serve only to distract from the real issues at stake within football such as fairness, equality and respect.”
In the case in question Mourinho was cleared of making discriminatory comments towards Dr Carneiro, and the FA utterly refused to bring any charges against any individual or any club after Dr Carneiro suffered sexist abuse from fans. Since the FA is supposedly as strongly against sexual abuse as it is against racial abuse, this is a bizarre and outrageous affair.
If the investigation into Heather Rabbatts goes ahead and she is found guilty she could be removed from the FA. Which would confirm what we know about the FA.
If the UK government had any real sense of what was going on it would now wind up the FA. This would mean it would be thrown out of Fifa (although if Fifa failed to do this it could resign) and Uefa, and could then invite other countries to take the same stand. Ideally I would like them all to pull out of international tournaments of any kind, but if they really, really must carry on with this insanity they could at least set up a totally new set of international bodies and change the rules about being above the rules and laws the rest of us obey. That rule – making the international bodies akin to countries – is surely the greatest insult of all.
- 29 October 2008: Arsenal 4 Tottenham 4. Bentley scored against his old club – perhaps the highpoint of his career. Silvestre, Gallas, Adebayor, van Persie scored the goals for Arsenal.
- 29 October 2011. Chelsea 3 Arsenal 5. Van Persie scored three, to make it three wins in a row for Arsenal in a run that continues for eight games until 10 December.