By Tony Attwood
As you may have noticed in passing, on 30 April, in the morning, I wrote a piece under the headline The Fifa / PSG / Swiss corruption cases are major news in Europe. But not in the UK. Why?
About seven hours later the Guardian covered what at first I took to be this story for the first time under their headline “Fifa takes action after Swiss authorities drop part of Sepp Blatter investigation.”
So I thought that this would be coverage of the case which has exploded in Switzerland – but it turns out to be anything but.
In my article, I wrote “New allegations against both the federal prosecutor AND Gianni Infantino are now coming to the surface. The basic accusation is simple – the federal prosecutor’s office and the FIFA lawyers have been working together to smooth over the case, to downgrade it and basically, if a carpet can be found, to sweep the case under it.”
Now that is not my interpretation of issues, but the way the story is being reported in the Swiss and German press. That the Fifa boss and the Swiss federal prosecutor have been working hand in glove in order to deflect attention away from Fifa’s current top dog and focus attention back on Blatter who is now dead meat.
While the European papers are full of the new story of Fifa collusion with the public prosecutor’s office. And believe me, that is a mega-mega huge story. It is THE story of the moment across Europe, aside from the coronavirus.
But the Guardian’s coverage makes no mention of the story that is engrossing Europe and instead it goes with the story that Fifa are putting out – it is as if the Guardian has read our coverage, phoned Fifa and asked for a comment, been given a Fifa press release, and published it.
Or perhaps the other way around – Fifa has started phoning the UK media and saying that if they don’t help Fifa out, they won’t get nice seats in the stadia when the World Cup starts. (Of course, I have absolutely no evidence of that, I am simply trying to look for rational explanations of what seems to me – and yes it is just me – rather odd journalism).
What is being put out is not so much a rebuttal of the story we have run, but rather Fifa’s approach which ignores all the difficult facts about the charges being brought against the Swiss federal prosecutor – which is a mega story in Switzerland and across Europe, as I am sure you can imagine.
Of course I don’t know if the Swiss federal prosecutor will be found guilty of not doing his job properly, but the fact that this case against him is being reported all over Europe but not in England.
What is also interesting is that the media in some quarters (not the mainstream media in England which has become utterly Anglocentric, taking Brexit to mean that the rest of the world simply does not exist) has run the story that (as the Guardian has noted) that The Paris Saint-Germain president, Nasser al-Khelaifi, has been charged in connection with a wider bribery investigation linked to World Cup television rights.
Specifically, he has been charged with inciting former Fifa secretary general Jérôme Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement. The Qatari football and television executive, however, no longer faces an accusation of bribery.
This is a totally different case of course, but it is interesting in that Qatar has been putting itself forward as the model of purity in the middle east, as compared with Saudi Arabia. And of course one man’s possible corruption is as nothing compared with what Saudi Arabia does on human rights.
But then Qatar is not utterly pure on human rights either given that Sharia law is the basis of Qatari legislation and its constitution. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly said that thousands of Asian immigrant workers have suffered exploitation and abuse working in what would be considered in western democracies to be forced labour conditions.
And yet the western media has attacked Saudi Arabia for being involved with copyright breaking while ignoring Qatar’s awful human rights record, and now seemingly wanting to divert attention from Fifa corruption.
So what is going on?
The only explanation that comes to mind is that the media in the west has already bought into (morally and financially) the issue of covering the world cup finals in Qatar, and don’t want anything to get in the way of their coverage. So difficult issues like Qatar’s human rights record in getting the world cup stadia built and other aspects of life, are set aside and the question of copyright is brought to the fore.
And when Qatar says, Saudi Arabia is breaking copyright, the UK media gets excited.
In the same way, the alleged corruption by Fifa of just about the most senior person in the Swiss judiciary is set aside, and instead, we are taking back to the old story of Blatter and all his crimes, of which we are all well aware.
In the same way the media ignored the story that Untold broke concerning the change in Swiss law that allowed the Americans to move into a Fifa congress and start arresting people. When the arrests happened it came as a total shock to everyone, except readers of Untold who remembered our advice to Fifa to have their next congress in South America.
Now they are not just ignoring the alleged collusion of a most senior Swiss legal officer with Fifa, and focussing attention elsewhere. They are moving onto a different case, presumably as a way of deflecting from the big one.
Why are they doing this? You’ll have to judge for yourself.
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