The Face of Change, The Urgency of Emergency and the Hypocrisy of Grant Wahl

FIFA is in the midst of a "crisis".

A "crisis" so serious, so extreme, so out-of-hand-and-off-the-hook that the newly-elected President of world football has been forced to resign.

As a result, FIFA is going to hold an "emergency Congress" to elect his replacement, the man who will lead world football out of the morass and into the light of a brave new dawn.

This change of direction, this "emergency", this "crisis of leadership" is so urgent, in fact, that this "emergency election" is going to be held "as early as next December" or at least "sometime between December and March".

Until that day in the distant future, the utterly disgraced Sepp Blatter will get up every morning, ride over to FIFA's palatial headquarters in his FIFA-provided personal limo, settle into his massively expensive custom built leather desk chair, ring up his FIFA-employed personal chef and discuss what he wants for lunch.

Change is a wonderful thing.

But fear not, pilgrims; between now and whenever FIFA can figure out how to conduct an election - and you'll note that for the "normal" one they just held last Friday, nominations opened in mid-March and the voting was conducted a mere two months later, but an "emergency" election will take between seven and ten months to put together -Sepp says he will personally be leading the charge for change.

In other words, the man who has dedicated the last 25 years of his life to carefully and meticulously building every single solitary dark corner of world football's governing system to his exact personal specifications is now supposedly going to be ripping it all apart with his bare hands out of a new-found love of transparency, decency and progress.

Somehow, in all of the celebration over Blatter's "resignation" everybody is ignoring the fact that he hasn't gone anywhere and won't be for quite some time to come.

Welcome to change.

Then again, it's hard to see how real"change" is even possible.

As an example, I give you CONCACAF, whose last two Presidents and last two General Secretaries are all currently under Federal indictment and at least one of them is sitting in a jail cell as we speak.

And I say that with all due respect: CONCACAF isn't any more corrupt than any of the other confederations (and in fact may very well be less so)  it's just that they have the rotten luck to be headquartered in a nation with actual laws that are occasionally enforced even against people with lots and lots of money.

Unlike...well, I don't want to name any names.

In any case, longtime readers - and God bless you, every one - will recall discussion of the particularly venal, corrupt and disgraceful excuse for a human being "Captain" Horace Burrell who is the longtime President of the Jamaica Football Federation.

aaaajackhorace.jpg

His commission as a "captain" is something of a stretch; he briefly served with the mighty Jamaica Defense Forces many years ago but he very much loves the title.

Burrell is the founder and owner of a chain of eateries called Captains Bakery and Grill. I'm told the sfood isn't bad at all.

Somehow that led him, in 1994, into local soccer administration which, being in the Caribbean and all, brought him under the wing of Jack Warner of T&T.

They soon became fast freinds and Jack promoted him ever higher up the ladder, assigning him to important FIFA committees including very important organizing roles at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and as a Vice President of CONCACAF.

Long story short - suffice it to say that Jack Warner had no more loyal toady - when Warner got caught passing out bundles of cash for his pal Mohammad bin Hammam and FIFA sent ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh to investigate, Horace had a problem:

As a loyal soldier in Jack's army he was in line to take over as head of the CFU and CONCACAF. Everybody considered him the frontrunner.

Problem was, Freeh wanted answers and Burrell was going to have to spill some beans to save his own hide, ala Chuck Blazer.

But he knew that if he did so he'd earn the enmity of the CFU voters he needed to get elected. He made his choice and refused to talk to Freeh's investigators. He stayed loyal to Jack.

This earned him a ton of respect amongst his fellow Caribbean officials but also earned him a six month ban from FIFA for non-cooperation. (No one could prove whether he took the money or not, although there's no reason to suspect that he didn't)

As a result, when Sepp Blatter called an "emergency Congress" for CONCACAF in Zurich - which, shockingly, he pulled off in less than 2 weeks - and promoted Jeff Webb as Warner's replacement, Burrell wasn't available for election.

He wasn't even eligible for the consolation prize of President of the CFU. He was out in the cold, although the JFF stood behind him anyway.

One reason why his federation stuck by him was of course the fact that when they tried to replace him as a corrupt embarrassment to the country he simply bought enough local teams to control the vote.

Still, what with the longevity of soccer officials, it looked like Horace had missed his opportunity for bigger and better things.

And then, incredibly, Jeff Webb - Burrell had made him his partner in a Captains Bakery in the Caymans, in return for Webb (a banker) setting up all his "personal banking" needs in that capital of hidden dough - was arrested and is out of FIFA.

Welcome back Horace Burrell, who is already being touted as the next President of CONCACAF, just as soon as an "emergency election" can be organized.

This sycophantic lackey and hopelessly corrupt "businessman" who learned his trade at the feet of his mentor and hero Jack Warner, may very well be running CONCACAF in the near future. The CFU still has 35 votes and can elect whoever they want.

The same way they elected and reelected jack Warner for 30 years.

Change. It's a beautiful thing.

Which brings us to World Class Hypocrite Grant Wahl.

For a many, many moons I regularly wrote about the walking, talking criminal conspiracy that was serial kleptomaniac jack Warner, and commented on how the "big time" national soccer writers in the US were appallingly silent about every aspect of his regime. From time to time I called out Grant Wahl (and others) by name.

Not only did I believe that it was a terrific story begging to be written - which time has proven to be a correct assessment - but I felt strongly that he had a moral responsibility to do so.

He never wrote a single word. Through all of Warner's long, painful, openly corrupt reign over regional soccer- the world cup ticket scandals, the stolen Haitian relief money, brazen theft of a $22 million soccer complex, the World Cup TV rights Blatter gave him for one dollar, on and on and on - Wahl said zero. Nada. Not a word.

And when he was in the middle of his pathetic, clueless, embarrassing "campaign" for President of FIFA in 2011- which, ludicrously, his ego apparently allowed him to take seriously - and he was the subject of the occasional interview by "journalists" as utterly clueless as he was, and he had the opportunity to shed some light on the deep morass of criminality, theft and greed which is FIFA, he had not one word to say about it all.

His entire platform consisted of a) adopting goal line technology and b) appointing Julie Foudy as General Secretary of FIFA because she has a uterus.

That was it. Not a single word about Warner. Not a syllable about Blazer. Nothing about Sepp Blatter, Issa Hayatou, Nicolas Leoz (who is now, I just learned, under house arrest in Uruguay), Ricardo Texiera, Issa Hayatou or any of the other myriad thieves who were treating FIFA like their personal ATM machines.

Nothing. Never said a word.

Andrew Jennings wrote "Foul" and got banned from FIFA events. Chuck Blazer had thugs physically eject him from the CONCACAF meetings. Later, when Jennings did his famous "chase Warner through the airport" video, which ended with Jack telling him to "go and ask your mother" Wahl said nothing.

Keir Radnedge and Jens Wienrich, European sports reporters with actual balls, risked their careers exposing Sepp Blatter. James Dorsey, a courageous Far East investigative journalist, was reportedly followed by shady characters for months after speaking out. Lasana Liburd in T&T, a true hero in all of this, risked everything -literally - to expose the venality of a man who was at the time his country's defense minister and had a personal police force.

Wahl stayed silent.

And when the British press was awash with the sordid tales of FIFA corruption, bribery and theft, still nothing from America's Premier Soccer Reporter.

But now that FIFA, Blatter, Warner, Blazer and the rest are all big news, Wahl's oddly-shaped shaved head, thin, nasally voice and smug Ivy league lounge lizard smirk are popping up everywhere as he learnedly opines on the topic of FIFA corruption based on his years of experience covering it.

Now that it's safe of course. Now that none of those guys can cancel his press credentials or free tickets or refuse him access to lavish media hospitality or travel perks or preferred work spaces or all of the rest of the things which they have used for decades to keep the press in line like dogs at dinner time.

All of which might even be forgivable if not for this:

Over the weekend, Wahl tweeted that Sunil Gulati has had  "his head in the sand" for years regarding CONCACAF corruption.

No, really. He actually had the monumental gall to write that. Stunning.

A bit later, probably recognizing that his comment was intellectually indefensible based on his own history, he tweeted that the "media could have done a better job" as well.

If by "media" he means Grant Wahl and if by "a better job" he means do SOMETHING as opposed to not one goddam thing whatsoever, then for once and at long last I agree with him.

Sorry Grant. You're ten years too late. We needed you a decade ago.