If I were a member of FIFA, right now I would be scared that the house of cards was about to topple. Because I am a member of the football-loving public however, I am thrilled to see the maelstrom expand. Now Mohamed bin Hammam has accused Sepp Blatter of ethics violations, and he too will also have to go before the Ethics Committee.
Bin Hammam is actually talking out of both sides of his mouth. On one hand he says he isn’t guilty and that this is all an attempt to discredit him in the race for FIFA President. On the other hand, he says that Blatter knew about the bribes and didn’t report them like he was obligated to do. This last line of defense would indicate that bin Hammam implicitly admits that the bribes did happen. I admit that I am not the world’s most prominent legal scholar, but to me that doesn’t seem to help his case. If anything it is more of a sour grapes defense: “If I go down, I’m taking you with me.” While bin Hammam is probably correct, his accusations are all hearsay and insinuation. There is no proof like there is again bin Hammam and Jack Warner. Nevertheless, this will significantly undermine Blatter.
If you want to know more, I again direct you to Bill Archer who has done a superb job of blogging story. The latest column is about the impact of the Blatter accusations. The major question that hangs over all of this is what will happen to World Cup 2022. There is no way that the result can stand; the vote was far too compromised. A secondary question is what will happen with the major European clubs. They already hate FIFA because of the international calendar. Will this be the impetus to finally declare war on FIFA? The clubs would probably win against an at-strength FIFA, but a hobbled opponent would be absolutely demolished.
Additionally, in reaction to this scandal Adidas just expressed some real reservations about its partnership with FIFA, which would take away a tremendous source of money. If Adidas backs out, FIFA cannot expect Nike or Puma to step in because they would have the same reservations. If Adidas goes, so will others
It’s tempting to blame Blatter and Joao Havelange, but FIFA has always been problematic. Pre-Havelange (the English/Stanley Rous era) FIFA looked down on Africa and Asia, and unforgivably, allowed apartheid South Africa in. The South Americans too have their own problems with the Rous-reign. Because of Rous’s high-handedness, Havelange was able to take over. And it only got worse from there.
FIFA will not changed. It is the world’s most expansive criminal syndicate. However, this may be the beginning of the end.