A little over a year ago Gianni Infantino clutched his hands over his heart, tears welling up in his eyes as he acknowledged the cheers of FIFA's assembled delegates who had just elected him - so the narrative ran - to lead world soccer's governing body out of the fetid swamp of Blatterist corruption into a bright new future filled with prancing unicorns.
By his side, we all recall, stood our own Sunil Gulati, who had prominently featured as the midwife to this new birth of integrity which would sweep aside the ugly old scandals, lies and frenzied kleptomania which a bunch of his very closest and dearest old friends and associates whose names he's now forgotten committed more or less openly for 20 years while he stood by and said nothing.
(All of which was accompanied on TV by the screamingly racist stylings of Ivy League Lounge Lizard Grant Wahl, who kept claiming, with much self-satisfied chuckling, that the black man who heads Jamaica's FA and owns a chain of retail bakeries is a "fried chicken" peddler. Yes, Grant, we know how 'dem folks love dey chicken, right? Why not just claim he sells watermelon too? It would be about as accurate. How Wahl still has a job is a mystery for the ages. But I digress)
So here we are, a scant 15 months into FIFA's Brave New Era of Honesty, Integrity and Transparency, just ahead of next week's Congress and one thing is crystal clear:
We was had.
Sure there were some bumps in the road at first, such as Infantino refusing to sign a contract which pays him a measley three or four million bucks a year because, after all, Sepp was taking home something in the range of $80 million when you include the utterly fraudulent secret "bonuses" he was paying himself.
Or Infantino using FIFA chartered private planes to squire his family around the globe. A problem he figured he'd solve by using instead planes provided free of charge by Russian oligarchs and Qatari Royals in a breathtaking conflict of interest that would have made Sepp proud.
Or Infantino disbanding the FIFA Task Force on Stopping Racism in Football, announcing that all racism in world soccer had been eliminated, a mind-boggling lie that even Sepp himself would have blushed at uttering.
We could go on and on in this vein - his blatant meddling in Confederation elections has been particularly brazen although in the case of the overthrow of the last of the Old Crowd of Disgusting Thieves, Africa's Issa Hayatou, nobody would have much minded if he'd buzzed the guy's house in one of those Russian planes and dropped a MOAB on his ass - but it's pretty much the typical crap these guys know they can get away with.
(My favorite "Infantino the Reformer" story is about, back when he was running UEFA, he registered TV rights deals in a Pacific Island nation called "Niue" which literally no one even knew existed.)
Now of course we know that Infantino was not elected to take Sepp Blatter's place (note to sticklers: he's actually filling out the remainder of Blatter's term rather than his own, so he's only got two years left to bribe his way into another electoral victory) in order to usher in a new era of reform.
Rather he was elected because he promised to a) vastly increase the amount of "development" money flowing yearly to each FA around the globe and b) to expand the World Cup field so that - well, so that more countries can send teams with no chance of winning anything but who will take home checks in the tens of millions of dollars.
He has accomplished both of these goals - so much money has been passed around that FIFA will report next week that they ran a $400 million deficit for the fiscal year, not that the members will care - and so the fact that he is in the process of stripping away any vestige of the "reform process" which FIFA has been proudly trumpeting to try and placate the US Department of Justice has become relatively moot.
He began by eliminating the "independent" nature of the much-touted Integrity Project by stripping the Investigatory Committee and the Judiciary Committee of anything like independence by giving himself the power to fire the members, including the chairmen, at will and without cause.
The head of the Audit and Compliance Committee, the respected Dominico Scala, immediately resigned in protest, an embarrassment made worse by the leaking of an audio tape which showed Infantino at an ExCo meeting discussing his plan to force Scala to quit.
Still, none of this compares to the coup he is about to pull off next week when the whole fraudulent FIFA "reform process" will be stripped of all meaning.
You'll recall that maybe the most important "reform" was going to be the dilution of the disgraceful Executive Committee which consisted of 22 men committed to grabbing all the cash they could. The ExCo system is how guys like Jack Warner et al could peddle their votes for $10 million and get Qatar a World Cup.
Everyone agreed that the small size of the ruling group made it way too easy to buy enough votes to get almost anything. So to great fanfare, the ExCo was abolished, replaced by a "Council" of 37 members, including - by mandate - at least one woman from each Confederation.
Problem solved. Let the democracy flow.
Except that, next week, Infantino intends to get Congress to cut off the Council's balls.
You see, he has determined that the size of the Council is just too big for any practical purpose.
But rather than eliminate it - and the $300,000 per year salary that each member, including our very own Sunil Gulati, receives, he's going to have it turned into - are you sitting down? - an "advisory body" without any actual authority. They will assemble, debate the issues of the day and then retire to five star restaurants and lavish bordellos without actually, you know, DOING anything.
He's going to get them to go along quietly by - prepare for a shock here - raising their pay. Because as we all know, less work and less authority generally merits more money.
Meanwhile, he's establishing a new governing body consisting of the Presidents of the six Confederations and himself. All executive power will flow from them, all decisions and all judgements will be made by the new steering committee.
Sepp Blatter must be shaking his head in awe. He would never have dared dream of running FIFA with only Jack Warner, Issa Hayatou, Ricardo Texiera, Mohammad bin Hammam and a couple other guys in the room.
This then is the result of the five year FIFA Reform Process: less democracy, less transparency, power concentrated in fewer hands, vastly larger bribes being spread around to countries which don't even pretend to have national soccer programs and all of it overseen by a permanent corruption oversight structure which is appointed by and works at the pleasure of the President.
Welcome to FIFA's Brave New World.