By Tony Attwood
What is the difference between being ruled by the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and being ruled by Fifa?
Well Fifa don’t arrange or allow the execution of many people, nor do they send them off to Siberia. But they do steal other people’s money, are utterly corrupt and have a total, absolute, vice-like grip on the way football is run, just as the Government of the USSR had a grip on the way the Soviet Union was run.
Although in theory, total power could be a good thing, if the people exercising the total power were highly intelligent, flexible and benign, by and large people with such features tend to make their money in other ways, or have long since decided that making money isn’t actually what life is all about.
So, just like the ordinary everyday inhabitants of Moscow between 28 December 1922 and 26 December 1991, lived under the yoke of a tyrannical government, the football supporter in much of the world lives under the yoke of the most incompetent self-serving planet-wide organisation that the world has ever seen.
And somehow the leaders of our countries, and the football interests of our countries, bend the knee and bow (quite probably both at the same time such is their desire to catch the droppings from the table of their overlords).
Thus the news that Fifa has rejected appeals by its president Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini against their provisional bans from all football activity should be treated as little more than the rise or fall of deputies of the Supreme Soviet. Interesting for a second or two, but irrelevant in the desire of people who valued individual freedom.
Platini, had he been an official of the Soviet Union, might have been working in Siberia by now, but as it is he is still trying to become Head of the Supreme Soviet or some such. Blatter would have been deposed and sent to exile on a dacha in the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic or somesuch.
Fifa’s ethics committee (equivalent to the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Justice) says it will make a decision before Christmas. Seven years exile and no jam for tea seems to be the height of the punishments available to them.
Now of course I know that some people argue that unlike the USSR, Fifa is just a joke, and indeed the statement by Platini that he was paid over £1m for work carried out as a special adviser between 1998 and 2002 but that Blatter told him at the time that Fifa could not afford to pay him, reflects that image.
As does the notion that Blatter and Platini engaged in a “gentleman’s agreement”.
Bermudan Larry Mussenden head of the Ministry of Dubious Things and Downright Lies (sorry, the appeals committee), said the appeals had been rejected in full but that the ethics committee could “confirm, revoke or amend the provisional decision” as it wished. Ah, so full blown democracy and a court open to inspection by all then. Or not.
Platini and Blatter may now take their cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport – an interesting body which Untold last focussed on when the CAS was hearing the Barcelona child trafficking case. They didn’t do much for a while after that case because most of the Court’s members were so stunned by the combination of arrogance and incompetence in the Barcelona appeal that they lost the ability to speak.
But back to the main thrust of the argument. The various Soviets that were within the Union didn’t dare rebel and take their freedom from the overlord largely because they were scared stiff of the consequence.
So what is the excuse of the FA, and the associations of all the member countries? In fact they are afraid too. Afraid of losing their free junkets, their free handbags, the handouts, the parties, the expense accounts, the endless screwing up of football in their own country (although that might just be a case for the FA in England to answer), and by and large being so utterly incompetent that even the English government demanded its money back.
All we can do is sit and wait for someone to wake up and say, “Hey, do we really need Fifa? Do we really need the FA?”
But I fear we will be standing here for some time.
- 18 November 1893: Burton Swifts 6 Arsenal 2 – the first time 8 goals were scored in an Arsenal game.
- 18 November 1913: Robert Benson joined from Sheffield Utd. He played at left back through this and the final league season before the league was suspended, when he went to work at the Royal Arsenal. On 19 February 1916 he went to a wartime match between Arsenal and Reading at Highbury and when Joe Shaw did not make it to the game, Benson took his place, although he had not been playing or training for a year. He collapsed on the pitch in the second half and died in the changing rooms a little later of a burst blood vessel. He was just 33.
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