Blatter: Feeling the Heat

Hey, he tried. FIFA President Sepp Blatter, bailing as fast as his soft, fat little Swiss hands can move, really WANTED to release the ISL bribe report. Really.

This is because Sepp is now committed to rooting out corruption. We know this because, despite an entire career spent slavishly abetting and protecting a bunch of criminal thieves while running an organization which bears a frightening resemblance to the Mafia, he now says that the reason he "can't" resign at the moment is because he has this "mission" to clean the thing up.

And thus, despite having spent several years and an estimated $1,000,000 in legal fees trying to prevent the Zug, Switzerland Court from releasing its findings as to who took enormous bribes from ISL - something which it would have done, in the normal course of events, a long time ago - Sepp announced last month that, court or no court, he's just so filled with the true spirit of transparency that he was going to release it himself come the ExCo meeting on December 15.

Of course, everyone already knows what it says: former FIFA President Joao Havelange and current ExCo members Richard Texiera, Nicolas Leoz and Issa Hayatou were down for big, big money.

We know this of course because Andrew Jennings showed everyone the evidence on TV last December. In that sense, it's old news.

Nevertheless, no less an authority than Seppy himself has said that when the report is released he expects a couple ExCo members to have to resign.

In an interesting aside, the IOC, which decided a few years back that they weren't going to put up with these kinds of crooked bastards pissing all over international sport any more, opened an investigation of Havelange and Hayatou focusing on these very charges and yesterday (h/t to Pablo Chicago) the 95 year old Havelange submitted his resignation in order to prevent being kicked out, which announcement is scheduled for this Thursday.

Anyway, so Sepp had us all poised for the big unveiling but, as of today, it's not going to happen.

It seems that "someone" has filed an objection with the Swiss courts and gotten a restraining order prohibiting Blatter's big transparency moment.

It takes one hell of a strong stomach to read Sepp saying "I have now been advised that as a result of the objection of a third party to such transparency it will take more time to overcome the respective legal hurdles" without retching; Blatter, after all, has been financing these same "legal hurdles" for the better part of a decade.

The only thing that has changed is the identity of the person paying the lawyers.

What makes this all the worse is the fact that lawyers familiar with the case say that it's all baloney anyway.

It may be true that the 41 page court summary is embargoed, but the evidence upon which it is based came straight from FIFA's own files.

And, they say, there is nothing preventing Blatter from walking down to the media room this afternoon and handing out copies of the key documents. Not a thing preventing him. The court has no control over what FIFA does with their own files.

Did Blatter know this was going to happen? We of course can't prove it one way or the other but no one would be even a little surprised.

Because whatever did or didn't happen with the whole ISL thing, Sepp knew about every bit of it, every step of the way, and he did nothing.

And THAT is what makes Sepp nervous about these files.

It's not that he was on the take; he probably wasn't although that's not for certain. And it's not that a couple of his dear old friends are going to have to take a fall; Bin Hammam and Jack Warner were his two oldest, closest and dearest friends and allies for years and years (to a large degree they out him where he is) and he tossed them both overboard with nary a tear.

Rather, the problem is that he will have a hard time selling his new Crime Buster persona to the media when it comes to light that he knew about, presided over, approved and actively covered up the biggest bribery scandal in the history of international sport.

However that may be, the biggest problem Blatter and FIFA have right now is holding the line on the Qatar World Cup.

In the past, whenever one of these ethics kerfuffles has arisen, he's dealt with it by creating a committee of some kind and then announced that the problem is solved.

Except that his position has always been that he's solved the problem for the future. The previous occurrence is always specifically excluded from examination.

Thus, in 2006 when everyone was outraged about how Jack Warner had made millions of dollars kiting World Cup tickets, Blatter created an Ethics committee and a Ethics code and announced that FIFA was now, obviously, a scrupulously honest organization.

Largely unnoticed was the fact that the Ethics Committee was very specifically prohibited from taking a look a anything that had happened before the founding of the committee.

The past was sealed tight. A very neat trick.

Sepp was then able to say, as he always does, that "the past is the past" and he's only interested in the future, and FIFA is now a "clean organization" and all the problems are now solved and he is "a happy President". (He loves saying that)

Unfortunately, since nothing had really changed - the Ethics process was intended to shut people up, not to actually solve a problem - along came the flagrantly corrupt World Cup bidding process, won by Russia and Qatar.

And without going into the by-now well known details, everybody recognizes that Qatar won the thing through a combination of personal bribery and government pressure. It's beyond debate. Even the saintly Michel Platini, FIFA's President-in-Waiting, is commonly known to have succumbed to urgent demands from his government, which desperately needs the commercial contracts which Qatar provided them.

It's not sour grapes. It's just the truth.

It's no secret that Blatter was in on the deal. Up to his neck.

And now his main goal aside from serving out his Presidency is to see that no one ever takes a serious look at how Qatar won the vote. Because it stinks, everybody knows it stinks, and it's almost certain that any independent review of the process will rip the coverup to shreds.

To this end, he's even willing to risk having the whole ISL thing out finally aired out, even if it means that several more old friends have to be sacrificed in the process. That's now desperate he is.

So Sepp has created a bunch more committees, and a bunch of lovely graphs and flow charts and is busy creating a Super Committee to oversee all the other committees and somehow, in the midst of all this committee-creating everything at FIFA will suddenly be open and above board and he will get to continue to fly around the globe getting medals and awards from dictators.

And he keeps telling everyone that voting for two World Cup venues at the same time is a terrible idea - never mind the fact that it was HIS idea in the first place - and that FIFA will never, ever do it again - despite the fact that he won't be around any more and will have zero control over it.

To you and I, this might seem like an admission that the process stunk last time. Why else would you announce that it should never be done that way again?

To Sepp, it means that he's a crusading reformer determined to clean up a filthy, disgusting and corrupt process.

The fact that he's the one who set it up that way? He's not interested in discussing that. He's only interested in the future.

So it was a major concession when he told a reporter that his new "Good Governance" committee could "look at" and "report" on the 2018 bidding process.

Left out, of course, was the fact that the GGC would have no power to do anything about it. That still rests with the Executive Committee.

The same one that chose Qatar in the first place.