Confederations Cup in Jeopardy and The Rats Turn on Each Other

Steven Goff (we're not worthy) OPENED THE QUESTIONING on Monday regarding how the US should handle the two tournaments they're committed to this Summer and reported that Jack Warner lickspittle Sunil Gulati, whose hobby is being President of USSF, and USMNT Coach-for-the-moment Bob Bradley were scheduled to meet with MLS officials to toss around the fact that, technically, Bradley can pretty much rape Major League Soccer for a goodly chunk of the season.

As Goff rightly notes, most people assume that Bradley will use a B team in the Gold Cup but obviously has little choice except to go with his best eleven in the two quallies and the Confederations Cup, and even that much will cause a whole bunch of grumbling and renewed debate - as if we needed more - about the conflicting MLS and FIFA schedules.

However, there's news today that perhaps the trip to South Africa may be called off. Various outlets are reporting POSSIBLE SWINE FLU cases popping up over there.

FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke says that FIFA would only cancel the event if there is a "serious threat", but left the term undefined for the moment.

Of course FIFA desperately wants this tournament to serve as something of a dry run for next years World Cup and they would be loathe to let it go. They desperately want to see whether local organizers can pull it off and where the holes - and there most likely are some - might be.

From the US point of view, while the tournament experience would be nice, I'm betting MLS wouldn't cry too many tears if the team ended up staying home.

Speaking of Sepp Blatter and his Merry Men, there's a delightful spectacle going on within the Asian Confederation this week that reminds one of nothing so much as a bunch of rats fighting over a bag of Cheesy Poofs.

In this case though the Cheesy Poofs are a $100,000 a year salary and an expense account without limit, along with bribes galore, payoffs without end and limitless opportunities for outright theft.

I'm speaking of course of a seat on FIFA's Executive Committee, the absolutely best gig on Earth.

(Just as an aside: are you aware of how FIFA's expense reimbursement system works for ExCo members? Are you sitting down? All claimed expenses are paid. No receipts of any kind are necessary.

So in addition to the $500 per day that FIFA pays any ExCo member when traveling for any reason, they can also submit a request for reimbursement of expenses without documentation. In other words, Jack Warner's dream come true.)

Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed bin Hammam has to stand for reelection next week for his seat on the board and, with FIFA getting ready to bid out not one but two World Cups in the next couple of years the money will be flying.

Unfortunately, bin Hammam - a loyal Sepp Blatter supporter right up until last Summer when he got stupid and suggested that maybe Blatter ought to consider retiring - looks like to lose to Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and has said that if he does he'll also resign as President of the AFC.

Because of course there's not that much money in it. The ExCo is where the action is.

At issue currently are the votes of five countries: Laos, East Timor, Afghanistan, Mongolia and Kuwait. Without them, bin Hammam will likely win. If they get to vote, then he's probably done because - here's a shocker for you - the Shiekh and his pals have been running around to the poorer countries handing out "development grants" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more) by the truckload.

Said grants, of course, to be "administered" (read: looted) by local soccer officials. You know, the guys who are going to vote.

Bin Hammam has ruled that the five countries in question cannot vote, the first four because they haven't participated, per FIFA rules, in three "international competitions" in the past two years. Kuwait is on probation after Blatter had to smack them down for the dreaded "government interference in football affairs".

His opponents appealed that decision to FIFA, which has ruled (well, OK, so Sepp has ruled) that they must be allowed to vote because - they've decided - U13 and U14 tournaments count and that Kuwait has done sufficient penance.

Bin Hammam, as President of the AFC, is refusing to accept this ruling and will instead submit the question to the AFC board - a board he chose - on May 7th, the day before the election.

Ordinarily you'd assume that all of this means that Blatter wants bin Hammam out, but you have to remember that this is FIFA here and nothing is as it seems.

The Shiekh's faction is led by the President of the Korean Federation, who makes no secret of wanting to replace Blatter in a couple of years and it's beginning to look like a real threat. So it's possible that Blatter has ruled against bin Hammam to make it appear that he's being fair to everyone, knowing full well that the AFC will disallow the votes anyway.

Or not. Who knows?

All that's certain is that it sure is fun watching these rats turn on each other.