Matthew Monk is a school teacher
from the UK who has the World Cup as one of his greatest passions. He will share his views about the past, present and future of
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The winner takes it all
In the end it was all too easy for Sepp; it was not
even a contest. Winning by 139 votes to 56 is better
that the Big Man ever managed, and is an even bigger
margin than Blatter beat Johansson by in 1998. Issa
Hayatou entered this contest as the anointed
candidate, riding a white charger, on top of a clear
cloud of transparency, honesty and decency - he has
ended it badly beaten and devoid of the support of
even his own continent. And what is worse, though
Sepp may yet still find himself in a courtroom, his
victory was never in doubt.
Blatter has regained control totally: not only of the
top FIFA job, but also the Executive Committee and
looks like getting a new General-Secretary for good
measure - if he really wants one. Blatter can do more
or less anything he wants to Michel Zen-Ruffinen. He
could fire him, his obvious political machinations, or
he could just as easily keep him around. It is almost
as if firing Zen-Ruffinen would be too good for him:
Blatter has beaten the conspirators now, so why let
them off lightly when you can keep them around and
watch them squirm?
And you get the idea that Blatter is going to do just
this, and enjoy it. He has managed to manoeuvre his
key lieutenant Michel Platini onto the Executive
Committee (tipping the balance in his favour and away
from the supposed UEFA-CAF axis), has silenced
Zen-Ruffinen, further damaged the credibility of
Johansson, and has even managed to blow away the
challenge of Hayatou and Chung Mong-Joon before they
got started. It is quite a result for the
temperamental PR man from Switzerland, and must be
another day of rejoicing in the Havelange household as
well. The legacy is safe it seems. At least for now.
If Blatter is an undoubted winner, then how have the
other key players come out of this? Even though
Hayatou was the official challenger, he was little
more than a figurehead, a clean man to take the fight
to Blatter. The real power behind the bid came from
Lennart Johansson, Chung Mong-Joon and latterly Michel
Zen-Ruffinen. And all of these men have clearly lost
out, big time.
For poor old Lennart there is no way back. He has
just started another term as UEFA President, but
whether he makes it to Portugal in 2004 is another
matter. Platini has been talked about in many circles
as the next FIFA General-Secretary, but this is really
only an administration job - paper pushing and
organising meetings. It has never been a political
job before, and really there is no base of political
power to go along with it. Sure you get invited to
all the top meetings, but no General-Secretary is ever
elected or makes campaign promises. It's a job where
you get your face in front of the cameras once every
four years to make the World Cup draw. It doesn't
bring a vast expense account or get you invites to the
Elysťe Palace. It's the place for a contented second
in command - like HelmŁt Kaser - not a political
schemer like Platini.
No Platini is after something bigger. He was always
the top man of the teams he played in, both in France
and Italy. He was the undisputed star, and would
settle for no less. No, for Platini being a mere
General-Secretary would not be enough - even if it was
at FIFA. Instead he has his sights set higher.
Platini wants Johansson's job. And what Platini
wants, Platini usually gets.
This would be perfect for Blatter. With his key ally
in charge of his biggest critic, Blatter could set
about creating his legacy. He could wipe clean the
denigration and accusation, and get to work on making
himself popular again. From watching Blatter over a
long time, you get the idea that this is what he
really wants - to be a popular, avuncular, 'nice guy'
It is almost like his was the most unpopular kid at
school, who hated being picked last for football, but
who knew that one day he could make everyone like him
- if only he got the chance to show them what he was
really like. Sure he hooked up with big, nasty JoŠo,
but that doesn't make Sepp a meanie as well. He
didn't like him really, all the time he was working
for him it was just horrible, and poor little Sepp
must have hated every minute of those impersonal
five-star hotels and palaces. And as for all the
money that passed his way, well that was correctly
distributed. Even if some of it did not go through
the books properly, Sepp meant it to. He just never
got round to writing it down. He never got the
chance. Every time he tried Big JoŠo would call for
him and ask him to come out to another party or to go
and watch another football match. And Sepp just could
never say no to JoŠo - not to his face anyway.
But maybe - just maybe - Blatter isn't going to get
his own way about this one. Platini might well want
to be the next UEFA President, but that doesn't mean
he is going to be it. UEFA is as divided at FIFA,
split into warring factions who smile at each other in
front of the cameras and bicker like little kids away
from it. There are three main camps within UEFA: the
pro-Johansson, anti-Blatter group (including
Scandinavia, Britain and Italy), the pro-Blatter camp
(like France and Germany) and the old Soviet Bloc, who
vote more or less together, but who also alternate
between the two pro and anti Blatter factions.
This means that any UEFA election without the once
dominant Johansson would be as divisive and hard
fought as this summer's FIFA contest. Platini would
feel very confident of beating Johansson, an
increasingly old, marginalized, failed politician.
But if someone else could be found to stand for the
anti-Blatter brigade, someone articulate, good looking
and young, then Platini would have a big fight on his
hands. Who could that be? Step forward another of
the week's winners: Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of
the Football Association.
Anyone brave enough to stand up publicly and criticise
Blatter as his moment of victory approached was always
going to be seen as a potential post-Johansson leader
of the anti movement. But if they could combine this
with a modern, fresh, business like appearance and
outlook, and be articulate and camera friendly as
well, then they would have it made. Luckily for
Crozier he managed do all this and more.
Crozier was headhunted by the FA suits when Graham
Kelly and Keith Wiseman managed to get caught up in
some cheap little bribery scandal involving the
Football Association of Wales. For an institution as
old and proud as the FA (the oldest of all football's
governing bodies) this type of financial scandal was
unthinkable. It was vulgar - something becoming of
less cultured peoples. Kelly and Wiseman just had to
And so in came the young, suave, Scottish business
executive - to run English football. The job he took
over from Kelly changed almost overnight. Always an
administrative post, the Chief Executive of the FA had
always been at the bequest of the myriad committees
and executives that still make up the bulk of the
organisation. But once Crozier came in, he received
much more power. Funded by the burgeoning
Premiership, Crozier took executive control of the day
to day running of English football, setting its
direction and driving it into an even more commercial
future. He superseded the venerable International
Committee - previously the group of old men who had
the right to hire and fire national coaches - and
started being photographed with the players. What is
more he didn't look out place.
He was the driving force behind the appointment of
Sven Goran Eriksson as national coach. It made the
right wing press apoplectic - how could this upstart
Scotsman appoint a foreigner? What about good old
Terry Venables or Bobby Robson? Sack them all (and
bring back hanging) it shouted. Thankfully Crozier
got his way without even the merest hint of trouble.
He was in total charge, and as Eriksson reinvigorated
England, Crozier resuscitated the FA.
This week was the first time many outside of England
would have seen or heard of the ever more impressive
Scotsman. In one speech, he made a more sustained and
believable attack on Blatter than Johansson and
Hayatou had managed all Spring long. And all he did
was rebuke Blatter for not letting Hayatou supporters
speak at the heavily staged event. But Crozier's
words were accompanied by booing - not aimed at him,
but aimed squarely at Sepp. For all Hayatou's
wide-eyed innocence, and Johansson's heavyweight
bluster, no one had ever got Sepp booed before. And
the people booing were the same one's who were going
to vote for Blatter on Election Day anyway. They
didn't like the sleazy goings on as much as the next
delegate, and were annoyed at Blatter's arrogance as
well. What they needed was a comfortable outlet to
express that 'outrage'. Crozier gave them just that.
So as Johansson's light was going out, a new
anti-Blatter voice emerged, cleverly and confidently.
And Platini has a powerful rival for UEFA leadership.
Platini may carry the gravitas of his FIFA role, not
to mention his exemplary playing record, but Crozier
looks the part, talks the talk, and hangs around with
all the sexy English footballers. If Johansson was an
old, soon to be extinct dinosaur, then Crozier is a
healthy amphibian emerging to top the food chain in
Still Crozier needs to be careful. Blatter has never
been as powerful as he is now. He is ready to brush
all the financial irregularities under FIFA's big,
expensive carpet, and can pick his moment to purge his
opponents with pleasure. Quite simply he has the
developing world in his pocket to an extent that even
Havelange never had. Two scenes from the election
were very indicative of the victory Sepp was to
achieve. First, even amid all the controversies and
allegations of fraud, the police investigations and
negative press reports, Johansson gave an honest
interpretation of what was about to happen.
"There are 204 member countries of FIFA'" he said "and
how many of them do you really think care who the
President of FIFA is? Small Asian or African countries
don't care. What difference does it make to Nepal for
He continued "What they do care about is getting their
grants as promised - their one-million-dollar shareout
over four years. They want to keep the status quo.
They do not want to rock the boat."
More tellingly he finished by saying "We in Europe
feel very differently about this but for hundreds of
smaller countries, as long as they get their grant
from FIFA, they are happy. Happy with the President,
who is keeping his promise to them. Happy that FIFA
is funding their development programmes."
The second indicator came right at the end of the
campaign. Even while the decent Hayatou was keeping
up the sham of thinking he could win - and was
guaranteeing 90% of African delegates would vote for
him - the Libyan mission dragged a BBC reporting crew
out of the CAF 'party' to state in the strongest terms
possible they would be voting for Blatter. And that
many others would be doing exactly the same.
Blatter came on TV and smiled as demurely as a bald
bank manager can, and said it was for the good of the
game. Zen-Ruffinen said he would only answer 'general
questions' and hurried off to find a job somewhere
else; Johansson mumbled something about bringing
football back together, just as he had done in 1998.
Dr Chung Mong-Joon never even made the TV cameras. He
had long since cut his losses on Hayatou, and went
back to trying to ensure that Korea came across as
more important than Japan. And Hayatou? Well you get
the idea that Hayatou was not quite as useful as
Johansson, Zen-Ruffinen and Chung thought he was going
to be. He will be lucky to keep his job at CAF.
Somewhere in Seoul - undoubtedly in the most luxurious
surroundings you can possibly imagine - Blatter,
Platini and Havelange will be laughing and slapping
each other on the back (although whether Havelange can
remember how to smile after all these years of looking
stern is another question). For they have won, and
just like the World Cup Final itself, we only ever
remember the happy faces of the winners.
Never doubt a bank manager; never doubt Mr Joseph S.
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