BRENT LATHAM – If you haven’t been following all the nonsense surrounding FIFA in recent months, because you can’t stand the power grabbing multi millionaires at the top or because you think it will never change, well, it’s hard to blame you.
But today’s announcement that Mohammed Bin Hammam and, more importantly for the U.S., Jack Warner will be hauled before a FIFA ethics committee on Sunday is the most meaningful announcement I can remember. And I’ll bet they’re quietly celebrating in Chicago as well. Here’s why…Corruption allegations are nothing new in this environment. The Qatar bid committee has seen plenty of late, though this time around is different. It may seem, since the new allegations involve Qatari Bin Hammam, that these are related charges.
But they are not, and therein lies the importance of this revelation. This is not “FIFA investigating itself,” as I’ve seen many analysts say this morning. This is FIFA turning on itself.
Bin Hammam and Warner are being brought before the ethics committee on a charge of meeting rather quietly and arranging bribes not around a meaningless (to the Exec Committee) World Cup hosting vote, but rather around the FIFA presidential election. Those are much bigger stakes and effect the Exec Co members directly.
American Exec Committee member Chuck Blazer has apparently ratted them out after a Caribbean meeting earlier this month.
Warner has apparently been at it again, but this time he’s been accused, so to speak, of conspiring to unseat the king of FIFA.
I can’t imagine they’ll take kindly to that in Zurich, and this may even mean the end for Warner’s day of plundering CONCACAF for his own benefit. If he’s turned on Blatter, FIFA’s brand of justice will come swiftly and unmercifully.
And that seems it would have to be the case. What else would Warner have been doing in a special meeting of the CFU with Bin Hammam, but sizing up the price of his CFU’s votes in the presidential election? That’s well known. That Blatter has chosen to try to nail him on it is a shrewd and somewhat unexpected move.
Now, there’s always the chance that Warner gets off with a slap on the wrist and a scare, and falls back in line. But that seems unlikely given one detail here – the allegations are not coming from the outside but rather Warner’s number 2 in CONCACAF and a fellow Exec Co member.
But why would Blazer break the code of silence if there was nothing to gain? No, in this case, he’s been put up to it by Blatter. The spoils? Blatter gets Bin Hammam out of his hair, and with Warner disgraced, Blazer gets CONCACAF.
That would be the ultimate outcome, and it’s a long shot still, but this power play move is monetheless impressive, and you can bet, well-calculated.
So what does that mean for the U.S. bid for 2022. Probably not much, yet. These allegations have nothing to do with the World Cup vote, and in fact overshadow that mess. The best hope is that a disgraced Bin Hammam and Exec Co would simply be forced to reconsider everything they’ve done of late, but that still lies well down the line.
In the meantime,the U.S. should be hoping an ally in Blazer has indeed struck a deal with Blatter. If that’s the case, better times lie ahead.
EDIT: Here’s a statement just out from Mohamed Bin Hammam
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