Arrogance, Greed and the Crisis at FIFA

Some interesting stuff has come to light in the last few hours and while they don't answer all the questions they surely begin to point us in the right direction:

First of all, you'll recall that Bin Hammam said that he was unable to attend the CONCACAF meeting in Miami due to circumstances beyond his control. Later, an unsourced story made the rounds to the effect that the US State Department had refused to issue him a visa.

"So, Jack, who do we bribe next?"

A lot of people questioned that explanation, but since it seemed obvious that he desperately wanted to be there to make his electoral case, we all accepted it and moved on.

A few days later, Bin Hammam - at his own expense - invited the entire CFU, but none of the other CONCACAF members, to enjoy luxury accommodation at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Port of Spain. He wined and dined them and, as we now know, met with each of them and offered them all a bag filled with US $100 bills.

So now that we know the game, let me ask you this: can you think of any other reason that Bin Hammam didn't want to conduct these transactions in Miami? The same Miami that is located in, last time I checked, the United States of America, where bribery is a felony and those who offer and/or accept them do hard time stuffed into 6 X 12 cells with very bad men?

And could it be that the rest of CONCACAF was not invited to this soiree because the US, Canada, Mexico and the others would have freaked out when they found themselves in the middle of a public bribe-a-thon?

Claiming that he couldn't get into the US and so, sadly, he'd just have to meet with the CFU members in T&T neatly solved a lot of potential problems, didn't it?

In regards to our friend Chuck Blazer, it does indeed appear that he was more or less forced to do what he did.

While some of the CFU members happily scooped up the $40,000, several of them claimed to have been appalled by the whole affair, and they contacted Blazer in New York with the story.

FIFA rules demand that any official who becomes aware of ethics violations must immediately report same to the proper authorities in Zurich.

Now obviously that's a joke in so many ways that it's not worth mentioning, but in this case Blazer may have felt trapped; he had been officially contacted, in his capacity as General Secretary of CONCACAF, by the Presidents of several national federations.

He simply couldn't legally ignore it even if he was dying to; with several CFU members **********king* like cheap radios it was only a matter of time before the whole thing became public.

(The autocensor seems to feel I have used a term sometimes applied to female native Americans. Idiots.)

So he turned it over to the suddenly famous John Collins who, it turns out, is the chief outside counsel for CONCACAF and asked him to investigate.

Completely scrupulous and by the book.

Blazer is nobody's' fool and when push comes to shove he's simply not going to commit professional suicide. Bluntly put, it was him or Warner.

Chuck has thus far refused to speak with any of the reporters who have been asking for a word with him, and it would be a shock if he did. There's nothing whatever to gain.

Just in passing though allow me to opine that I really don't care why he did this, or even if he was forced to because there was a gun to his head: he did it, and that's enough for now. He'll have a story to tell later on and we're all anxious to hear it but until then I'm just not going to pass judgment on him.

Whether this was a Road to Damascus moment or a case of selling out a pal to save your own ass just isn't the issue.

What may be more relevant is that Blazer, an extremely shrewd guy, may very well be able to take these lemons and make himself a big old pitcher of lemonade. This is an image rehabilitation opportunity that a thousand guys on Madison Avenue wouldn't dare dream of.

As for Collins, he reportedly has the goods, including - this is just great - a photo of some of the money.

The question though, as with Blazer, has to be just why these guys blew the whistle.

Maybe they were indeed morally outraged, although it's not like this kind of thing hasn't been going on for years down there. The stories are legion.

But maybe this time the whole thing was so open and obvious that they were afraid the shit was surely going to hit the fan sooner or later and they didn't want to get caught in the crosswind.

One would purely love to know which CFU members took the money - it's surprising that at least a few of them weren't named in the complaint but a couple of low-rent CFU flunkies were - and which ones ratted Warner out.

Remember last December when, just before the World Cup balloting, the BBC's Panorama program ran a documentary - written and reported by Andrew Jennings, who has to be doing a Happy Dance today - about corruption among FIFA Executive Committee members?

There were two main segments to the program, which Blatter, Warner and others - cynically lying, as it turns out - blamed for England only receiving two votes:

The first one was about the 2001 ISL scandal which almost forced FIFA into bankruptcy. The basic facts were already well known, but Jennings came up with the previously unreleased names of three of the ExCo members who were found guilty by Swiss authorities of having accepted bribes in return for their votes in favor of granting ISL the massive broadcast package for the 2002 World Cup.

They were: Brazilian Ricardo Teixeira, Paraguays'Nicolas Leoz and the President of the CAF, Issa Hayatou of Cameroon.

Fast forward a few months to the recent allegations that ExCo members solicited bribes in return for their votes for the Qatar World Cup 2022 bid, which FIFA has just submitted to the suddenly extremely busy Ethics Committee.

The charge is that two men asked for $1.5 million and a third requested an honorary British Knighthood. The men are:

Brazilian Ricardo Teixeira, the President of the CAF Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Paraguays' Nicolas Leoz.

The other segment of the program presented evidence that CONCACAF President Jack Warner made arrangements to sell large quantities of World Cup 2010 tickets on the black market, a charge which has also been handed off to the Ethics Committee for review.

Of course we all recall that FIFA found him guilty of selling large quantities of World Cup 2006 tickets on the black market, was forced to pay a one million dollar fine and should by rule have been tossed out of FIFA but Sepp Blatter announced that Warner had been "forgiven".

Are you seeing a pattern here?

These exact same guys keep doing the exact same stuff year after year, decade after decade, and they don't stop even when they've been caught red handed.

They're the most openly shameless bunch of guys maybe in history. They're exactly like streetcorner whores: getting nabbed by the cops every once in a while is considered the price of doing business. Their only concern is how quickly they can get processed and bonded so they can get back out there and go on whoring.

As for Jack Warner, just a few months ago former FIFA General Secretary Michael Zen-Ruffinen called him "maybe the biggest criminal in the world" and compared him to a Mafia Don. His name has become synonymous, worldwide, with crime, greed and corruption. There has been much speculation that Blatter was becoming so utterly embarrassed by Warners' rampant kleptomania - there's really no other word for it - that he desperately wanted the guy gone since as long as he continued to serve as a FIFA Vice President it was going to be impossible to credibly claim that FIFA is not corrupt.

It just didn't pass the laugh test.

And yet with all of that, with the too-numerous-to-mention scandals and Andrew Jennings chasing him through airports and all the rest, when it comes time to pass out open bribes to CFU members, Warner doesn't even feel the need to leave the room.

He could have sent his son Daryan or some other toadie - he's got lots of them. But it apparently never occurred to him to do so. In fact, he was so utterly confident and dismissive of the rules that he even allowed witnesses to sit there and watch the procedure.

And if THAT isn't the very definition of arrogance it'll do until something better comes along.