THE shenanigans at FIFA over the last few months are so bad they’re enough to make a saint swear...
Indeed, they were so bad that they made a former Archbishop of Canterbury get very hot under the clerical collar.
Sermonising on the scandals that have enveloped world football’s governing body, Lord Carey, an Arsenal supporter, cast not the first and only stone on Sepp Blatter’s attempts to maintain that the house of FIFA was not at all disorderly.
He said of Blatter’s blinkered stance: “Crisis, what crisis?
“Perhaps the most duplicitous and arrogant statement uttered in football’s appalling world of bungs and favours.
“It beggars belief that Sepp Blatter, a president who has presided over the most scandalous affairs in the game’s history, could win a ringing endorsement for another four years in office.”
Most right-minded football supporters would say a resounding Amen to that.
Blatter has pledged that under his watch he will make things right, though appointing Spanish tenor Placido Domingo to advise FIFA on their problems suggests he would struggle to distinguish his anus from his aria.
An investigation into the various serious allegations made against FIFA is tainted if it is internal, for the perception would be that it was not open and above board.
Can we trust FIFA to look inwardly and sort out their own mess?
The indications do not look at all promising, given what apparently happened when it came to the voting on the proposal by the FA representative David Bernstein to defer a decision on naming Blatter as next president – if reports are correct, the delegate from Vietnam pressed the wrong button!
Rather than Placido Domingo, maybe it would be better to call in Inspector Clouseau/Taggart/Dick Barton/Sherlock Holmes to look into the vexed question of FIFA’s finances, though with the governing body’s apparent immunity from police prosecution that avenue could be blocked.
Just as it looked as though England’s progress was going to be blocked to the European Championship finals next year, when they were 2-0 down in the match at Wembley against Switzerland, the land of Blatter’s birth.
Defeat then would have really put the tin hat on it.
Luckily, thanks to a timely substitution for which Fabio Capello did not get much credit, and the introduction of Ashley Young, that kick-started something of a revival.
It ended up 2-2, and the fact that England’s chief group rivals Montenegro could only draw with Bulgaria later that night put the Wembley result into a different context, though did not quell the coach’s detractors.
People can criticise Capello – and when he is paid £6 million a year he will always be open to that – but there is no legislating for Darren Bent’s couldn’t-hit-a-barndoor-with-a-banjo miss that could have given England a 3-2 lead.
When Bent was hopelessly awry with his effort, I wonder how many TV viewers – like myself – thought of Harry Redknapp and the comment made when the England striker was a Spurs player, and the ‘My missus would have scored that’ jibe, reflecting on another howler in front of goal.
England did pick up the tempo against the Swiss, but only temporarily.
After a commendable effort to get back into the game, their energy levels sagged, not surprisingly given that the match came at the end of an exacting, overloaded campaign.
Rio Ferdinand appeared to be out on his feet at the end, while Scott Parker looked an ordinary midfield scuffler rather than footballer of the year.
But the overall impression was that for all the team, it was one match too far – a bit like Blatter’s reign. And then some.