FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ethical Suspensions: Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini and FIFA Governance

“I am sorry that I am still somewhere a punching ball.”

– Sepp Blatter, 21 December 2015

Banning the President of FIFA Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, Vice-President and member of the Executive Committee of FIFA and President of UEFA from the football family is a bit like castration and merry mutilation after a self-congratulatory orgy. That is to say, if you are associated with FIFA, can any genuine cleansing be undertaken except from the outside?

This is the sheer desperate nature of FIFA’s latest acts of cleansing and ostracising. The apparatus has been vested with various powers, and attempts have been made to do some brushing in the face of enormous criticism – and, let’s face it, arrests – that have made doing something, anything perhaps, imperative. The result, as it has proven before, is inconsistent.

Platini is a clear target here, having been feted as Blatter’s successor. Having been a footballer’s footballer, he became the obvious target of opprobrium, having gotten first class tickets on FIFA’s gravy train bonanza.

The FIFA ethics committee, in finding the two guilty for breaches surrounding the CHF 2m “disloyal payment”, also claimed that Platini and Blatter had demonstrated “abusive execution” in their positions. That payment, authorised by Blatter, supposedly took place in 2011, and went to Platini from FIFA funds.

It had no legal basis in the original written agreement signed between both officials on August 25, 1999, which was a rather nice way of saying that it was not quite a bribe. In that sense, it fell within the provisions of Article 21, paragraph 1 of FIFA’s code of ethics. But Platini insists that the payment was salary for consultancy work he carried out at FIFA between 1998 and 2002 under a gentleman’s understanding with Blatter.

In the wording of the Ethics Committee, chaired by that least reliable of ethicists, Hans-Joachim Eckert, it was claimed that, “Neither in his written statement nor in his personal hearing was Mr Blatter able to demonstrate another legal basis for this payment. His assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber.”

Platini received an eight year ban regarding all football related activities and a fine of CHF 80,000. Ditto Blatter, who remains unrepentant and, one might even say non-cognisant of his own behaviour. “Blatter,” observed Tracey Holmes, “cannot understand or accept how an organisation to which he has dedicated half his life and now runs can toss him aside.”

And what a time he has had. As Michael Powell would explain in The New York Times, “His professional life was magnificent: so many hours spent in grand hotels, eating grand meals and sipping grander wines, with an annual salary estimated as north of $6 million.” Then came those “Visigoths” in the form of financial investigators from the US and Switzerland to burst the bubble.

Blatter’s issues with the ethics committee are manifold. For one, he created the body as a front of modest, and disingenuous reform. Being his creature, he expected it to do his bidding, endorsing facets of conduct while occasionally ticking off the less severe elements within the organisation. “I want to talk about betrayal,” he told gathered members of the media in Zurich on Monday. “Today, first of all, I was very sad. But not anymore. Now I am fighting.”

Both have denied the claims made against them, and will appeal the rulings, with Platini explicit about taking his matter to the FIFA Appeals Committee and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Even now, he still entertains the notion that he might nab the FIFA presidency in the special election scheduled to take place on February 26. Given that the appeal is unlikely to be resolved before that date, his chances are slim.

UEFA has also shown caution in throwing in its lot against Platini. There is honour amongst thieves after all and a vast gulf between football governance and the players on the field. “Naturally, UEFA is extremely disappointed with this decision, which nevertheless is subject to appeal. Once again, UEFA supports Michel Platini’s right to a due process and the opportunity to clear his name.”

The exercise by the ethics committee is a delightfully contorted way on FIFA’s part of saying that the duo went too far in executing the remit of their positions. As the French statesman Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord warned: Above all, not too much zeal. Such matters do not merely apply to the making of war.

Punishments being meted out by FIFA’s otherwise inactive and far from independent ethics committee have tended to be of a minor sort. But these actions suggest the heavy hand of the US Justice Department and associated agencies. The disease that is FIFA, however, remains. The body continues to decay, and fresh blood remains a distant reality.

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail