Welcome to World Cup USA 2014

Posted on March 14, 2012 3:16 pm

The more time you devote to writing about the foul den of snakes, liars and thieves which is FIFA, the more you begin to feel like one of those warmed-over hippies chasing around the Antarctic in a dangerously unseaworthy old tub named after a celebrity tossing stink bombs at the Yushin Maru #2.

No matter what you do or say, the Japanese are going to continue to slaughter and eat 1000 Minke whales a year and claim it’s for “cetacean research” (if you’re free this Saturday I’m going to be conducting similar “research” on several racks of pork ribs), and the venal old men who treat international football as their personal fiefdom and ATM are going to continue to pocket millions while spouting banalities about “the good of the game”.

(IMO the best solution to the first problem – a couple of US Navy Sea Sparrow missiles fired straight up the tail end of the “factory ship” – would also work nicely on Sepp Blatter and the rest of the arrogant clowns in Zurich. Just saying.)

What’s more, thanks to BigSoccer Legend Placid Casual we have Jack Warner turning his verbal fire hose on the likes of yours truly in remarks such as this response to the recent publicity surrounding his open theft of Haitian hurricane relief funds:

“Bloggers are trying to demonise me. But I remain unperturbed. I will not allow any social deviant to make me decide (my future) sooner than I should.”

On behalf of my fellow social deviants, thanks for reading, Jack.

Be that as it may, when Warner finally ran out of luck and found himself, like Leo and Kate, clinging to the stern rail of the SS Kleptomania as it slowly sank beneath the waves, we found ourselves rid of the man who was universally seen as #1 on the list of FIFA’s Most Wanted Miscreants and had every reason to believe that his demise was only the beginning of a massive FIFA housecleaning

By almost anyone’s standards, Brazil’s Ricardo Teixiera has long been #2 on that list. (It’s a tossup whether Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou or Paraguay’s Nicolas Leoz weigh in at #3; there’s just not much to choose between them.)

Unfortunately, despite what you may have heard in the last day or so, the Brazilian greedbag – who must be the most charming guy in the world to get away with dumping his wife at age 60 for a cute young trophy wife and be able to keep the political support of his ex-father-in-law, Joao Havelange – is still firmly ensconced at the top of said list.

It’s been a tough 12 months for Teixiera.

Former FA President Richard Triesman testified before Parliament that Teixiera had solicited a huge bribe from England in return for his World Cup 2018 vote, and the famous Qatari “Whistle Blower” fingered him as having sold his 2022 vote for several million bucks (before she suddenly remembered that a) she likes living and b) she likes lots and lots of money and so c) none of that stuff ever happened).

Then, last July, he responded to a BBC broadcast accusing him of rampant corruption by announcing that he would “make (England’s) life hell” as long as he remained a member of FIFA’s executive Committee.

That same month, he gave a recorded interview in which he stated that, as head of Brazil 2014, he intended to use his power to ban any reporters who said anything negative about him, would change match schedules to suit his own purposes and stated that he would use his role to buy himself enough influence to insure that he was elected to replace Sepp Blatter at the helm of FIFA in 2015.

In October, Brazil’s legislature launched an investigation of how Teixiera laundered tens of millions of dollars through the Brazilian Federation (CBF) and had personally pocketed millions more through illegal TV contracts.

Then, in November, Sepp Blatter announced that he intended to release the Zug, Switzerland prosecutor’s report which names the FIFA Executives who accepted millions of dollars in bribes in return for granting World Cup TV contracts, a list which everyone knows full well includes Teixiera and Havelange.

A couple weeks later Teixiera refused to invite Pele – a man who has been outspoken about what a crook Teixiera is – to the preliminary World Cup draw, creating a sensation in a country where the Black Pearl is second only to Jesus (on a bad day) as a revered public figure. The President of Brazil had to make him part of her official party just to get him admitted into the hall.

In December, FIFA announced – with no explanation whatsoever – that Teixiera had been “suspended” for 30 days and would not be allowed to participate in that month’s ExCo meeting.

This was followed, in January, by the revelation that Teixiera had filed an appeal with the Swiss High Court in an attempt to block release of the report naming him as an admitted thief and liar. To put it bluntly.

All of which – and there’s more, much more, going back 30 years – a rational person might think was the reason why Teixiera suddenly resigned as the head of the CBF and the President of the World Cup Organizing Committee.

And they’d be wrong.

Because after all of that, after all the ugly deeds, theft and arrogance became public knowledge, Teixiera was re-elected – unanimously – to his sixth four year term as head of the CBF.

Just in passing, I’d point out that he was initially elected to head the CBF in 1989 despite having no – none, zip, zero – experience in soccer beyond buying the occasional ticket. He never so much as ran a youth league before taking control of one of the most legendary football programs on Earth

And here’s the kicker:

Notwithstanding all of the accusations and his resignation from the CBF, Ricardo Teixiera is still a member in good standing of FIFA’s Executive Committee, meaning that he is still one of the 24 old men who control world football, and FIFA’s media office is telling the media that as far as they know he is still a member of that august body.

The fact is that – contrary to what you may have read elsewhere – Ricardo Teixiera was not forced to resign from the CBF and the World Cup Organizing Committee because he’s an openly corrupt thief with, according to reports, over US$100,000,000 stashed in numbered Swiss bank accounts. Brazil and FIFA proved long ago that they don’t give a fat crap about that, and nothing has changed in that regard.

Neither was it because of the diverticulosis which has been blamed (credited?) in some reports as forcing him to step down. It’s undoubtedly an inconvenience but hardly debilitating.

Rather, the reason why Teixiera has been forced out is a much simpler one:

The 2014 World Cup is beginning to look like a disaster.

The 2014 World Cup was awarded to Brazil in 2003 under FIFA’s short-lived “continental rotation” policy (Remember that? No? Neither does FIFA) when South America unanimously agreed to back them.

Unfortunately – shockingly – in the nine years since then, Brazil seems to have done next to nothing to get ready. It appears that they felt being able to Samba really was going to be about all they needed.

It’s so bad that FIFA is still squabbling over basics like whether they’re allowed to sell beer in the stadiums – apparently Brazil has a law forbidding same, which is distressing news to ultra-mega-big-dollars-sponsor Budweiser – and the previously unnoticed statute which demands that senior citizens, among others, be allowed to buy event tickets for vastly reduced prices.

And since FIFA has no intention whatsoever of selling cheap ducats to old folks and poor people, this is a serious bone of contention which is still not resolved.

All of those issues, thorny as they may be, are secondary to the main problems which revolve around the fact that in terms of physical preparations – venues, transportation facilities and all of that – Brazil is frighteningly far behind schedule and, what’s worse, don’t seem particularly bothered by same.

Now those of you with only modestly long memories will recall that South Africa went through these same problems, but there’s a big difference: there was no way that Blatter could move the World Cup out of Africa without coming off as the worst racist since Adolf Hitler.

FIFA huffed and FIFA puffed but in the end if they had to they would have flown in 100,000 folding chairs and sold souvenirs and tickets from under a bunch of hastily erected E-Z Ups before they pulled that particular plug.

And as it happened, FIFA pumped in a huge injection of their own cash to get the venues done. The rest of it, well, if you had to wait six hours to get a train back to your base city it was time well spent enjoying the ambiance.

Things have gotten so bad that no less an authority than FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke finally blew his stack publicly, telling reporters last week that Brazil needs “a kick up the backside” to get them moving on time-critical projects.

This brought a howl of protest from Brazil who, as might be expected, ignored the point and lambasted Valcke for badmouthing them, with local officials sending a formal complaint to Blatter, telling him that, basically, Valcke is a big old meanie puss.

Sepp, as you might expect, folded like a cheap card table, expressing his “deep regret” to “the wonderful people of Brazil” and blah, blah, blah. Valcke too was forced to issue an abject public apology, expressing his deep remorse at the very idea of having actually told the truth about how Brazil is not going to be ready to host unless they kick it into high gear pronto.

Brazil responded in the spirit of the occasion by refusing to allow Valcke into the country for his regularly scheduled inspections and meetings. They’re still working that one out. Clearly some more groveling will be required.

And of course the 800 pound gorilla in the room is that the guy in charge of making Brazil 2014 happen – who, in fact, appointed himself to the job of running it all – was longtime CBF honcho Ricardo Teixiera.

Unfortunately, in between figuring out ways to line his own pockets, appoint his cronies to important spots and making sure everybody kissed his wrinkly old ass, he was unable to spare any time for, you know, doing anything about arranging for football matches.

So in the end it wasn’t his 30 year career of corruption, bribery and theft which brought Teixiera down. It was the fact that his was the obvious neck Brazil had to chop in order to convince FIFA that they’re going to really, really get serious about this whole World Cup thing.

Unfortunately, the guy they chose to replace him is a 79 year old non-entity and longtime Teixiera lickspittle who is so crooked that he was last seen pocketing a medal which he was supposed to be giving to a player.

(BigSoccer’s Man in Sao Paolo ACGreen sent along this link to a video of the medal-pocketing Jose Marin, but I can’t make it work. It used to be on YouTube but it’s been taken down. I’m passing it along in case you have better luck than I’m having with it.

Suffice it to say that this guy is not exactly a huge improvement.

Back in 2008 and 2009, Sepp Blatter famously stuck his famous foot into his famous mouth by telling reporters about his “Plan B” contingency plan for use in case South Africa didn’t come through, but it was always clear that it was going to take a lot more than a bunch of incomplete airports, inadequate hospitals and a lack of hotel rooms to get the World Cup “Out of Africa” (Loved Streep, hated Redford)

It’s just as clear at this point that Brazil will be extended no such cultural sensitivity.

Which will soon – possibly very soon – bring us back to the age-old question:

Who can stage a successful World Cup on 20 minutes notice?

And fortunately for FIFA, not only is the only non-European answer “The US of A” (Dallas has a fairly decent airport already, Chicago has a reasonably functional stadium, New York can rustle up a couple of hotel rooms and LA, well, they can toss the World’s Greatest Opening Ceremony quicker than you can say “Madonna”) but that’s also an answer which would tend to damper down the looming inquiry into just how Qatar got 2022.

Call it killing two birds with one stone.

Unfortunately, if it comes down to it, one of the 24 guys sitting in that boardroom in Zurich will still be:

Ricardo Texiera.

FIFA: The More Things Change.

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