He looks better than Septic Bladder
Mohamed Bin Hammam who has done more than anyone to put Asia and Australia on the football map announced his candidacy in opposition to Sepp Blatter.
The announcement was hardly out when Franz Beckenbauer openly worried that opposing Blatter would split FIFA into two camps. Old Franz knows something about singularity of purpose – ask Jens Lehmann as the Bayern cabal went out of the way to destroy him in order to promote Ollie Kahn as goalkeeper of the German squad in 2006 World Cup.
What would happen if Sepp Blatter does not win re-election? There is one thing to be thankful for above and beyond it all: The marginalization of the most polarizing and corrupt of his many right hand men. Jack Warner. He is the poster boy for FIFA’s lip service to transparency under Sepp Blatter. Under him CONCACAF has become a dependable voting bloc for the Swiss tyro over the many election cycles. The benevolence has paid handsome dividends as FIFA has turned a blind eye to the one of many scams that Andrew Jennings has so assiduously investigated.
Old Franz’s complaints of divisiveness is a bit rich when Warner in his capacity as CONACAF president and FIFA vice -president was jet setting to candidate countries bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup and playing the old game of divide and conquer. He could not have telegraphed bribe me any more graphically. Under this sleaze’s active intervention, the Soca Warriors would have been fobbed off with pittances from the T&T football federation’s windfall after the 2006 World Cup. They rightly sued. To date his own countrymen representing T&T in a blaze of shining glory have not received a single cent.
Blatter might point to South Africa on his vitae as FIFA opening up new parts of the world capable of accommodating the global game. But his championing of Russia and Dubai comes on the heels of the western world’s worst economic meltdown, a calamity bought on by a lack of transparency. The parallels are apparent to those less concerned about egalitarian ownership of the global game and wary of the smoke and mirrors of the current leadership. It is the latter being highlighted by the opposition candidate.
“I will consider … the demands from the public to keep Fifa and football organisations above accusations and suspicion of negative practice; the demands of the public to create an absolute, ethical, democratic and transparent environment within Fifa,” said Bin Hammam. “I will establish a transparency committee.”
But Bin Hammam’s announcement also reflects the shifting of the market place. Apart from Japan, the region with the highest rate of return for future investments lie in Asia. The biggest market for growth in football despite the paucity of player representation reflects the power of the mind boggling disparity in generating new viewership between Europe and Asia.
A skew well understood with a growing number of European clubs mounting pre-seasons in Asia. Richard Scudamore’s desire for a 39th Premiership match was demonized but it will happen in some shape or form in the next few years. China, till a decade ago, a veritable shadow but with the 2008 Olympics is now mentioned as potential World Cup hosts in the near future, alternating the world’s biggest spectacle with the ASEAN countries.
The old guard could look to Blatter’s straddling both fences torn between natural proclivity and a new reality. Russia and Dubai might have been blips. With Hammam’s presidency the shifting of power is irreversible. But the Qatari has been emboldened by one time allies, now spurned, willing to gamble on anyone but Blatter. Joao Havelange and his hand picked successor Sepp Blatter have ruled FIFA for as many years as Mohammed Gaddafi ruling Libya. An echo of the seismic forces dissatisfied with the status quo sweeping the Middle East? Hardly fanciful.
Blatter responds to the latest and most serious challenge to his presidency by seeking the most unsavoury company. No wonder the numbers eager to see the last of him are rising.