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February 2021

We could look back in the future and see that today was the day Fifa was destroyed.

By Tony Attwood

Go back a couple of years and, while everyone who wanted to understand, fully understood the corruption that existed in Fifa, Uefa and world football, virtually no one wanted to do much about it.  The height of such rebellion as there was, came with the English FA gallantly saying that they would never bid for the World Cup again while Blatter was in power.

That this was reported in the English press in all seriousness, shows how far the situation was utterly misunderstood.   It really was very hard to find many places other than here where the notion that Fifa ought to be completely wound up was being put forward.

But the FA has moved and the Guardian today has the story that “the Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has predicted that such is the world governing body’s reluctance to reform that Sepp Blatter would win if he stood again.”   Not exactly a cry for total reform, but another tiny step in the right direction.

And, although the notion is hardly mainstream, you do find it reported.  True, I can’t find any news medium that wants to hold the executives of the FA to account for the £35m or so that was wasted on the English bid for the World Cup – money that could and should have been spent on grassroots football.  Nor have I seen anywhere other than here where that waste of money has been linked to the fact that subsequently a third of the FA’s staff were made redundant.  So it’s good to know our news coverage is still occasionally “untold” in other media.

However now there is movement, and while most media outlets are reporting today’s election of a new Fifa man without reference to the potential for destroying the whole rotten edifice, a few are heading in that direction, while most in England are pointing out that the front runner for election is a man as tainted as the Blatter character he replaces.

Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa is the favourite and he is the candidate who has said he will not implement the reforms to make Fifa more transparent.  He’s the man Damian Collins MP accused in Parliament of taking development project funds to finance an election bid.

Among Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa’s statements is this one…

“One of the main concerns, talking to people around the globe, is about bringing down the number of the committees from 26 to nine,” he said. “I can promise you, if I am elected, that the number of committees serving in Fifa will not change – whether through commissions or task forces or whatever. I’m sure we need most of you around.”

Steady as she goes, then.

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Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa has an appalling human rights record.  He is a despot in his own utterly undemocratic country.  He is a member of the privileged elite.  And he’s who I would vote for if I had a vote, not least because he has his lawyers are sending out what I am told are “aggressive” legal communications to the main media outlets who question his human rights record.  That’s the way to do it.

Given that there has been some movement in the media to recognise that the organisation they have bowed down to all these years is appalling, disgraceful, corrupt and contemptible, there is just a chance that the media will itself react with revulsion at such an election.   Then, maybe, just maybe, the FA will wake up to public opinion and start to move away from its impression of a dog chasing a ball that is forever thrown away for it to bring back.

No one will vote for an end to Fifa, because there is too much arse licking still going on in the FA and elsewhere, but that is what they should be doing.  And it is possible that a vote for Sheikh Salman might just cause such an annoyance that people will start to realise that Fifa cannot ever be reformed.   The Sheikh will get votes from Africa and Asia – and that might be enough to get him in.

The accusations against Salman are profound.  For example there are numerous reports that Bahraini footballers were tortured when pro-democracy protests were put down five years ago in some of the most repressive scenes seen beyond the realms of Islamic State and their fellow travellers.

And James Corbett of Sporting Intelligence is quoted widely as reporting that Hakeem al-Oraibi said that the security forces had “spent three hours hitting me hard on my legs, while saying, ‘We will break your bones, we will destroy your future, you will never play football again with these legs’.”

Meanwhile nine journalists and half a dozen online activists have been imprisoned in Bahrain, because the last thing the country wants is any sort of discussion of what the government is doing.

But in the face of this obvious fact, Issa Hayatou, the acting Fifa president, said just two months ago, “Fifa is not corrupt. We have individuals that have shown negative behaviour. Do not generalise the situation.”

And Hayatou is the man who was pulled up by the International Olympic Committee just five years ago for receiving payments from the corrupt marketing sub-section of Fifa, ISL.

And that is what the FA buys into.  An organisation that still, today, has Hayatou as acting president and is seriously considering voting for a human rights denier who wants to roll back the tiny reforms that Fifa have so far proposed.

It seems they are still not listening to the US Attorney General, Loretta Lynch – because presumably the FA with all its excellent record of hopeless failure and financial waste knows more.   There are 150 criminal cases relating to Fifa being investigated in America and Switzerland… and yet the FA and its pals want this organisation to continue!!!

So we now have the idea from Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa that Fifa presidents should never spend more than 12 years in power, presumably because that would stop corruption, and there should be more internal (not external) integrity checks (presumably because outsiders “don’t understand us.”)

So if Fifa can elect a man from a country of human rights deniers as its president that could pretty much make the case for the end of Fifa.

And then, while that is going on we could watch the International Olympic Committee explain how the new Fifa boss was using IOC offices to send out emails supporting himself – something the IOC should not be allowing to happen.

Now it might well seem to you that I’ve been rampaging around this arena for an awful long time, and Fifa is still there.   But think back to the last world cup with all its coverage and bowing down to the Fifa hierarchy and the fact that the only – yes the only – response of the FA or anyone else at this time was that they would not bid again for a world cup under Blatter.

And look again at where we are now.   In one sense nothing has changed in the sense that Fifa is still there, but amazingly journalists in the UK are writing pieces condemning the whole of Fifa and wanting to pull it all down.  It is a change of direction.

Of course we are constantly aided by Uefa in the struggle to rid the world of Fifa by people like acting UEFA president, Angel Maria Villar Llona, who announced on the day after Michel Platini’s suspension decision,”I hope Michel will be back with us soon.”  I think that told us where they are.

I hope Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa is installed soon, because that could well mean the end of Fifa once and for all.   Of course people who have just lost power will always try and regain it, but for once we would have a chance to stop the insanity, and return football to where it should be: a game run by the clubs using the clubs’ players with none of this fake-country stuff getting in the way.

Insult of the day in case you bump into anyone from Fifa
Is not your voice broken, your wind short, your chin double, your wit single, and every part about you blasted with antiquity.  (Henry IV Part 2)

Just published:

The Untold Books

The latest Untold book is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with a Foreword by Bob Wilson, available both as a paperback and as a Kindle book from Amazon.   Details of this and our previous and forthcoming titles can be found at Arsenal Books on this site.

From the Anniversaries file on the home page

26 February 2012: Rosicky scored his first goal in two years to mark his comeback as Arsenal beat Tottenham 5-2.  Tottenham went 2-0 with goals from Saha and Adebayor.  Sagna and RVP brought it level at half time.  Rosicky got his and Walcott got two.  There were six bookings and a red card for Parker.

26 February 2013: Bob Wilson was quoted as calling Stewart Robson “bitter” over his remorseless criticism of Arsène Wenger

And elsewhere (just so we remember)…

26 February 1935: Radar was demonstrated for the first time in a field in Northamptonshire by Robert Watson-Watt.  Despite giving Britain the weapon that would contribute massively to winning the war in Europe he was treated appallingly by the War Office and British establishment, largely because he went to the wrong school.  There is however now a small sign opposite the field, to commemorate his brilliance and perseverance.

18 comments to We could look back in the future and see that today was the day Fifa was destroyed.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Just replace one rotten person by another is what FIFA is doing now. Fick Fufa! More than ever.

  • Bleeding gums Murphy

    It would be like getting rid of Rolf Harris as the head of social services because of his abuse of power and replacing him with Jimmy Saville !!

  • Gooner S

    The world of football has change dramatically from when I was a child in the early 70’s. In addition to the football magazines and books of my time my dad still had some of his own football annuals from the 50s and I would avidly read about FA Cup triumphs and great English and Scottish football teams and players. This was a time when the National teams were the main drivers and draws. Home Internationals were hard fought and much looked forward to. The FA Cup was king. As much as I love watching International football I only see it falling further and further behind European club competitions in terms of quality, revenues and importance.

    In terms of Fifa, Uefa and the FA I can see them eventually being usurped by the top clubs breaking away and restating a European football organisation supported by national leagues. If this happens, what will then happen to International football and Fifa?

  • para

    Off topic:
    People, my pulse is racing the way the next game is shaping up. Remember when we were ravaged by injuries and lost 8-2?

    Well the reverse situation is looming and i really really really hope our players are ruthless, that is get their shooting boots on and score score score.

    The fact is we need more goals, and this is a good opportunity that we should NOT pass up.

    AW says he feels sorry for VGaal(he should have kept quiet), and i hope this does not influence our players, who now need to build up their confidence and be very ruthless.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    From the word go, 5 candidates contesting for the President of Fifa are too many. They should not be more than 3 at most.

    How did some of the participants contesting for the office of Fifa President passed though the Fifa’s integrity commitee? Have the Fifa integrity forget the meaning of integrity? How credible is the Fifa’s integrity committee?

    Money must have changed hands preceding this election and in the actual election itself today.

    How much money has the Fifa’s integrity committee menbers collected from the 2 leading candidates in today’s election before clearing them of any wrong doing? Only God knows how much.

    But there is nothing hidden under the Sun that shall not be revealed. With time short or long, we will know how much money directly or in-directly the integrity committee have collected/received before clearing the 2 so called leading candidates for today’s election. And how much have the Asian and Caf delegates received or collected to vote for a particular candidate in today’s election?

  • Jerry

    For what it’s worth, the U.S. has decided to support Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan which pretty much means he will not win, since the U.S. is viewed as the cause of the FIFA drama. It’s said since out of all the candidates, he’s the only one that has really been calling for FIFA reform and actually ran against Blatter.

    Of the other front runner candidates, you have already discussed Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa above and Infantino supports Blatter and Platini so much as to even say he will withdraw if Platini is able to run.

    FIFA is essentially choosing between a person with a poor human rights record or a person who doesn’t want the job but is running because his boys can’t.

    The winner’s victory speech might as well just say “FIFA, there’s nothing wrong to see here, just keeping along”.

  • Jerry

    meant to say “just keep moving along”

  • Jerry


    Arsenal can’t go all out attack against United. I actually think United is more dangerous without Rooney. Rooney is not as clinical anymore up front since his break out year in 2011-12 (Giroud who is unfairly criticized has scored more goals in the league since then) and his passing is not good enough to be a number 10. United will actually be able to play more free up front with Mata pulling the strings, Depay, and Martial. As well as more technical players such as Herrera getting game time. Rooney’s contract is what gets him in the lineup.

    Defensively United may be weaker with the injuries especially to De Gea and Phil Jones, but it has to be a controlled attack so that Arsenal does not get out of shape. Going up 3-0 in the first 18 minutes again would be nice though!

  • proudkev

    FIFA cannot reform.

    It is full of corrupt mkembers who will naturally always vote tehir own self interests.

    You have bankrupt associations that need the FIFA money and they will do whatever it takes to ensure they get it.

    When Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa gets elected it will be more of the same.

    It really is a joke. Yet again our FA proves it has no backbone, no courage and no balls. All you get from Dyke is the same hot air he delivered at the BBC – interesting another organisation of mass incompetence. So whatever he says is going to be hypocrital.

    The only way FIFA will be able to reform is with someone like Bin Ali, so I have no idea why the FA decided to put their vote behind Infantano.

    The stench just gets stronger.

  • Andy Mack

    Gooner S, Although a European clubs breakaway sounds like a great idea, I’m not sure it could actually work. If it happened then it’s pretty certain that Fifa/Uefa would stop any player involved in it competing in any Fifa/Uefa event which of course would mean the European Nations Championship and the World Cup.
    I know players can generally be considered as mercenaries (goaded by their money obsessed agents) but an awful lot of the best players also consider playing for their national team as being the ultimate accolade. Would Alexis stay with us knowing he’d never play for his national team in a major event.
    Yes alternative nations events could be set up but would Chile stay as a Fifa country or become a member of the breakaway operation… Now consider that with every single country… and the expense involved…
    IMO it’s a lovely idea but I doubt it’ll happen.

  • Andy Mack

    proudkev, unfortunately there’s still too much corruption and money involved for Bin Ali to succeed at the moment on a ticket of ‘honesty and integrity’. It’ll remain a corrupt operation which all countries have to deal with, and won’t change until the major sponsors run away and take their money.

    The FA (like the associations in every other country) has a really weak footing to shout about corruption and ineptitude, even though they’re right in this case. But across Africa, Asia and south/central America corruption is the normal situation.
    As long as a candidate promises to keep the members from these areas on the gravy train then he’ll get their vote. This also applies to a lot of countries in other continents (including Europe) but with a little less consistency.

  • para

    I do not mean go all out attack, i mean to play our “good” game, focused, sharp and as a team, cutting out all(most of) the silly mistakes that we have started to make. Show the TEAM desire to win and win good.
    Human rights:
    Well, there is a hands down winner who disregards human rights all over the world, and it ain’t any other countries but European countries. Check it out in history. They talk the talk but do not walk the walk. It’s easy to talk human rights and behind the scenes continue the disregard thereof or use it as an excuse to invade others.

  • Andy Mack

    para, Historically Europe has been bad on human rights but sporadically others have been worse. However in the last 50 years Europe has generally been better than all others, and since the European union has been running full tilt, it’s been much better than all others and we live in the ‘here and now’.

  • Gooner S

    @Andy Mack

    I don’t support a break away by the clubs at this point in time but I can see the day coming when it will happen probably in the form of them supporting the set up of a rival football body to Fifa and Uefa. Fifa needs to sort out its transparancy and governance and re-establish the core principals of a world football governing body. I don’t see them doing that. I hope they implode.

  • Andy Mack

    I agree that Fifa (and Uefa) won’t sort themselves out whilst they’re getting big amounts of sponsorship from the faceless corporations but one day the ‘corps’ may just think being involved with Fifa is too big a stain on them for the advertising/PR to overcome, and decide they’re better off sponsoring Hockey, Rugby, and 5 other sports with the same amount of cash. Lets hope!
    Meanwhile I really can’t see any way that a rival to Fifa can work.
    Set up the (lets say) World Football Clubs Assoc (WFCA), 22 clubs join them. Fifa bans all 22 clubs and all their players from Fifa events.
    Does MSN stay at Barca knowing they can’t play for their national team at the WC or do they go to China, earn even bigger bucks (which may be justified by the enormous immediate growth of their TV deals) and still play for Argentina/Uruguay/Brazil…
    In its self an interesting thought but not when you then have to say the same about Alexis, Ozil, Coquelin etc…

  • GoingGoingGooner

    re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

  • para

    Andy Mack
    Its easy to become “conscience led” after reaping the benefits to build their countries and then decide, oh its time we got a conscience.

    This in itself would not even be so bad, if it was real.

    But it is not. It is just the appearance projected in the media, all the while continuing the same practices.

    Having researched history for my book but mainly to get my head around certain things, i can tell you that all is not what it seems on that matter.

    There are so many horrible things still continuing on today, with many others planned(all documented by themselves by the way, Eugenics being the most devious one to date after slavery, Family Planning another) that you would be shocked and ashamed if you did not fall for the propaganda they produce in their media.

    Being a football page it would not be suitable to list them all here, but a little research yourself will open minds to it with no problems as they are not really hiding being in full control of the media.

  • Andy Mack

    para,all I can say is that in the last 50 years or so, others are far far worse (I’m not saying ‘perfect’ but there’s far less than any other continent). And before then, European countries had just been vastly more successful at colonising than all the other countries. If European ‘colonising’ countries had sat back and concentrated solely on keeping their borders the same for the last 500+ years then the world maps would look very different with Asia split between only 4 or 5 countries and a similar situation in Africa and South America.