Carnival of the Corruptocrats

There are, I'm sure, a lot of really great things about being a greedy, corrupt international sports executive.

One of the best is that graft, bribery and theft never really see a down year. Inflation, deflation, recession, none of it matters a bit - the good times just keep rolling on.

So it is with FIFA's Executive Committte.

This weekend, in Tokyo, the FIFA Exec will hold it's fourth meeting of the year. All 24 members will fly in private planes to a private area of the airport where they'll catch the limo which has been reserved for their personal use while in town and whisked away to one of the most expensive suites in one of the most exclusive hotels in the world.

They'll get white glove treatment in some of the world's foremost restaurants while dining on exotic meals personally prepared by one of the world's great chefs while enjoying wines most of us can only dream of.

And they'll never see a bill. Sepp will handle it.

Now let's be honest here: while it's easy to sit around tut-tutting the absurd, royalty-worthy treatment these guys all receive, and pompusly pronounce on the topic of their venality, if you were one of them what would you do?

Would you say "No thanks Sepp, I'm getting a room at Motel 6"? Or "Hey could we hurry it up - the Early Bird special at Denny's is almost over"?

I honestly doubt it. And even if you did, so what? Would your refusal to suck up unimaginable luxuries doled out to FIFA's favored sons mean the abrupt end of Blatter's regime? Or would you just get replaced by someone else, someone who doesn't mind voting however Sepp tells you in return for a lifestyle that some Arab Shieks would find embarrassing.

Of course, while in town they'll be attending the Championship match of the FIFA Club World Cup (previously called the Club World Championship, but FIFA now slaps the words "World Cup" on everything they possibly can), the most worthless, pointless tournmanet on Earth, particularly for Manchester United, who have to fly 12 times zones and play two games in the middle of the EPL season, for no apparent reason other than without them nobody would even notice the thing was being held at all.

Seven teams - seven? oh, nevermind - will slog through the week, trying desperately not to be the ones who have to play the ludicrous "Fifth Place Match" which was instituted so that every team could play two games,

And you thought that Third Place Matches were stupid. Try suiting up and playing your guts out for the Fifth Place Trophy. Maybe we can ask the American member of the Tournament Committee about it; I WONDER WHO THAT COULD BE

(Early result: LDU Quito of Ecuador best Pachuca 2-0 today)

Anyway, so when the 24 FIFA Executives assemble, they'll be as giddy as schoolgirls at the latest news:

Sepp's newest BFF, AUSTRALIAN FRANK LOWRY just talked the Australian government into allocating a jaw-dropping $45.6 million for the purpose of "PITCHING" THE AUSSIES BID FOR THE 2010 WORLD CUP.

Now understand, in order to get the WC, you don't need to convince a majority of the citizens of the world, or even the majority of FIFA, to give it to you. All you need is a majority of the FIFA Executive committee.

In short, Australia will be spending $45 million to get 13 votes.

What in the world would they be doing with this money? They don't need billboards, or TV time or a hundred cases of glossy brochures, although with that kind of money you could erect a billboard across the street from each member and still be able to afford to print up 24 really, really nice brochures.

So between now and the vote, sometime in 2010, Frank Lowry will be spending what amounts to $3 million per board member. Honestly, they ought to just write 24 checks and call it a day.

The really fascinating thing is that, as Spain, Greece, Bangladesh, Chad, Kenya and Peru, among others, have discovered just this year, if FIFA gets even a whiff of "government interference" in football matters Sepp Blatter expels you from world soccer.

But when "government interference" takes the form of $45 million that's intended to "pursuade" FIFA Executives, well, let's just say Sepp isn't expected to demand that they give it back.

In between the celebrating, Blatter still wil find the time to vote to give Great Britain "permission" to field THE DREADED "UNIFIED GB TEAM" at the 2012 Olympics.

It's an interesting construct, using terms like "approval" and "permission" to describe something that you're ramming down someone else's throat.

Of course, England is all for it. They want the World Cup in 2018 as well and, since they don't have $45 million to pass around they've had to settle for groveling at Sepp Blatter's feet. They'd all wear dresses and bark like dogs if Blatter told them to.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have A FAIRLY DIFFERENT OPINION on the whole thing. They don't have $45 million either, but they also don't have any reason to lick Blatter's hand-sewn Italian loafers.

The most interesting vote will be that of CONCACAF Emperor Jack Warner, who says he's keeping an "open mind" on the topic.

Which is interesting, considering that he's spent the last decade demanding that the four home countries be distilled into just one FIFA member, on the theory that Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales "aren't real countries" and so shouldn't be members of FIFA.

Of course, there are four members of CONCACAF who aren't countries and never have been, but Jack controls their votes so nobody mentions it.

Still, the FIFA Executive committee isn't about to let any of this ugliness intrude on the splendid time they intend to have in Tokyo.

When the time comes, Sepp will tell them how to vote, and so they really don't have a care in the world.

Not a bad gig.