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

April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail