The beautiful game has sure got itself into an ugly mess. It looks like Sepp Blatter might be at last soon be on his way out of the door as head of FIFA. His replacement? Well, it looked likely to be former star-footballer, latterly Qatar-loving, Michel Platini from France, but he’s got hauled into the Blatter palaver for apparently being bunged a few million without a receipt to say what it was for. Consequently he is also on the naughty step. No fear. To the rescue might ride Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, a member of the Bahraini royal family and a man who, allegedly, in 2011 was one of the authorities responsible for brutally suppressing protestors who were seeking at least a tiny bit of democracy in the Gulf State, in the course of which some sportsmen were tortured, footballers among them. How fitting a man he would be to have in charge at FIFA!
Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s former general secretary (yep, he’s under criminal investigation as well), once opined “less democracy is sometimes better for organising a World Cup”. Indeed. Kleptocracy is more their thing. One imagines that if Islamic State could just get its act together to build a couple football stadiums in between destroying ancient monuments, they might be a shoo-in for the 2026 staging, making it back-to-back World Cups for the Middle East.
Platini’s day job, incidentally, is president of UEFA, the body which runs European football. It recently announced an investigation into the fact that Manchester City fans had booed the Champions League anthem ahead of their team’s match against Sevilla. City should be worried; very worried. Given the fact that cases of sustained racist chanting usually lead to fines around a quarter of the £80,000 levied against Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner for celebrating a goal by revealing a pair of underpants sponsored by Paddy Power, it seems that with UEFA, the more insignificant the offence, the more swingeing the penalty.