An insight into the types of people who bet on sport could have been gleaned from the immediate reaction of Fifa president Sepp Blatter and his South African counterpart Prince Hammam. There was immediately no hand-holding from the two men, whom we know from the documentary “Slymenstra”, about Sepp’s affair with the Lebanese woman, that have their heads together like peas in a pod, only for one not to be wearing any trousers.
And there was no “come on then” from Hammam, who waved a piece of paper with a resounding €1bn figure before the television cameras at the Fifa Congress. Hammam believes he can’t win, while Fifa believes he is just up to his old tricks.
What is going on here? Hammam’s global profile only brings out the scrotes, not the decent folks who have a soft spot for his willingness to stretch himself. They are no doubt the ones who are saying “Blatter is the rat” in the adverts on the front pages of the papers yesterday and last week. I thought he was out of the game? But there’s a quote from Hammam that shows why his supporters may be missing the point: “I used to see the people who were against me. Now I don’t see any of them. I see the people who are for me.”
South Africa on the back foot
There was something about the way this ended. South Africa claimed they had done everything by the book. The whole saga – involving South Africa’s purchase of the 2010 World Cup and the manner in which Fifa awarded them the right to host it – has been characterised by a carelessness and an indifference to governance.
It has had a knock-on effect on other nations around Africa. We are already seeing it this morning with Egypt. I spoke to Football For Change founder Charles Kipng’etich in the wake of the weekend and he told me that Fifa’s lack of sensitivity on this issue has cut off any chance of normal relations between the two countries.
Egypt’s football association was in discussions with the Confederation of African Football about staging a Champions League qualifier between Egyptian clubs Zamalek and Ismaily on the same night as South Africa’s second game of the Group D qualifier. When the proposal was presented to South Africa, the Egyptian FA called the South Africans “stupid” and claimed they were trying to compromise the interests of their own country.
But the game went ahead and South Africa went on to get three points. In the end Egypt played in what would have been a stunning protest. But there were very few people at the stadium in Cairo who cared.
New generation set-up
Yes, the American system has holes in it. But the idea that Fifa is to blame for these is bullshit. Fifa is a construction of the powerful, a way for those at the top to have a pantomime fight without the risk of having their heads broken. They are too far gone for anything to change.
Fifa was in the G20 and chaired by Gordon Brown. The ODPP was put in place to deal with ethics after the Priti Patel scandal. We know there is a grand-daddy of them in Chuck Blazer. And this is not new.