In their incessant bid to ‘create the news’ rather than merely report it, the Sunday Times‘ (ST) undercover arm seem to take great pride in their uncanny ability to p*ss off just about everybody they come into contact with.
Having already effectively enforced suspensions upon two senior FIFA committee members (namely Nigeria’s Amos Adamu and Oceania’s Reynald Temarii) amidst allegations of selling off their World Cup votes to the highest bidder and running quotes from former FIFA secretary-general Michel Zen-Ruffinen who levied some fairly hefty accusations against his former employers, it now seems that the newspaper have made themselves yet another high-ranking enemy.
During their various reports, The ST have also hinted at possible tit-for-tat collusion between Qatar’s 2022 bid and Spain/Portugal’s 2018, claims that FIFA have now promised to investigate via their in-house ‘ethics commitee’.
These claims of tactical jiggery-pokery have understandably riled Mohammed Bin Hammam, who just so happens to be the Qatari president of the Asian Football Confederation (and a voting member of the FIFA executive committee), who has expressed doubts about the validity and moral grounding of the newspaper’s ongoing investigations.
Speaking via his personal website, Bin Hammam retorted:
“Forging identity, fabricating evidence and setting traps are unethical behaviours in my point of view.
One thing about Middle East media, these are rare happenings. Is it ethical to use unethical measures to protect the ethic?
How can we serve justice and look for fairness by not acting justly and fairly? How will we clean dirty laundry by using dirty water?”
Are we to believe that it is indeed the ST who are at fault here then?
Presumably for unethically exposing the entirely ethical way in which FIFA members dodge their ethics committee in order to ethically swap World Cup votes for ethical cash?
So many questions and, thankfully, it looks it’s only going to be a matter of time before we are finally provided with the answers – although to the possible detriment of England’s bid to host the 2018 tournament, should spiteful backlash enter into the equation when voting commences in Zurich on December 2nd.
It’s the bloody Eurovision Song Contest all over again, only somehow more petty.
The allegations of collusion between Qatar and Spain/Portugal are widely expected to be dismissed by the ethics committee later this month, on the grounds that most of the FIFA execs are all chummy with each other and are therefore likely to chat about one another’s bids – especially with two separate bidding processes running side by side i.e. the 2018 and the 2022 votes.
Continuing on his website, Bin Hammam echoed FIFA president Sepp Blatter‘s in belatedly conceding that it was probably a mistake to stage the two votes on the same day:
“We all underestimated the passion for the game around the world; we miscalculated how much football has influence over the feelings of people.
By admitting that mistake, FIFA executive committee members realised how much it is impossible to demand from their member associations not to talk to each other about their bid.
President Blatter said in the [FIFA executive committee] meeting, ‘out of the nine bidding nations, eight of them have representatives in the FIFA ex. co. and all of them are friends. How can I ask them not to talk or discuss issues about the World Cup bid..?’
The World Cup is the largest business of FIFA. Collusion will always have a chance to happen as far as two bids will be decided together, but we all pray that no corrupted collusion will find its way to the bids.”
Of course, heaven forbid that FIFA should have their as-yet untarnished reputation dragged through the mire.
Whereas the half-hearted investigations and counter-investigations may rumble on for the next month or so, I wouldn’t go about holding your breath for anything to surface that could even loosely be described as ‘positive change’.