OPINION: Fifa meltdown just keeps getting Jacked up
The lunacy that is the current Fifa scandal continues to roll on, and every day brings new and exciting delights coupled with complete disbelief. In today's edition: The Irish FA admit to taking money from Fifa to shut up about Thierry Henry's handball and Jack Warner pays for a political broadcast to promise an 'avalanche'.
Between Chuck Blazer's Trump Tower apartment for his cats, his fascinating website that features pictures of Vladimir Putin with a polar bear, Jack Warner citing an article from The Onion in his defence and the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) casually admitting that they accepted a payment for not pursuing legal action over Thierry Henry's handball, you really couldn't make it up. Since the news of Blazer's co-operation first broke last year it has always sounded like something out of a script written by an over enthusiastic first-year film student. But, as this scandal has proved time and time again, truth really is stranger than fiction.
As has been the case with this whole sordid saga, every single day has brought something new that makes you flare your nostrils with disbelief. The last 36 hours have been no different. Jack Warner, one of the men at the centre of the saga, promised an 'avalanche' of evidence on Wednesday. This just days after Warner, as he has for much of his slime-ball existence, insisted that he was innocent. As they say in the Caribbean, though, "Fisherman never smell he own basket".
On Wednesday night, in a paid advertisement, Warner invoked Gandhi and said he had handed over documents linking many officials, including Blatter, to some dubious dealings that stretch far beyond the world of football. Warner says he has evidence showing that Fifa officials tried to manipulate the 2010 election in Trinidad and Tobago.
The last time Warner used a natural disaster as an adjective to describe corruption was back in 2011 when he promised a 'football tsunami' in the lead up to the then Fifa presidential elections. That same year, amid corruption allegations, Warner stepped down from his 18-year tenure on Fifa's exco. Because of this, he was never probed by Fifa's ethics committee, but the 'tsunami' revealed an email sent by Jérôme Valcke in which Valcke referred to Qatar as having "bought the WC". Valcke, of course, later denied it all saying he was misquoted. Blatter was accused of using Fifa funds for his own political means ahead of the election.
At the time, Warner said, "I also indicated that at the Miami Concacaf Congress on 3 May Mr Blatter made a gift of $1 million to Concacaf to spend as it deems fit. This annoyed [Uefa's] president Michel Platini who was present and he approached Valcke complaining that Mr Blatter had no permission from the finance committee to make this gift, to which Jérôme replied he will find the money for Mr Blatter."
Back then, though, the US department of justice had not begun digging quite so deep yet, everyone laughed off the allegations and Blatter was elected for another term. Now that Warner has nothing more to lose and might be willing to enter a plea bargain, one has to wonder what exactly he'll be handing over this time. And, if the documents are handed over to the FBI, who has taken this whole investigation out of Fifa's hands, what will be the implications for those he might have dirt on? Equally, if Warner sings like he's on Broadway, what will it mean for the South Africans officials allegedly implicated in the trying to buy votes for the rights to host the 2010 World Cup?
It seems that would all depend on how it was all done. Nobody appears to have any problem with admitting that certain amounts of cash did indeed exchange hands, or rather, bank accounts. Safa has said that the $10 million paid to Warner was part of the 'Diaspora Legacy Programme' which nobody can find any real trace of existing.
And, just to keep up the theme, FAI chief executive, John Delaney, said on Thursday that Fifa paid the FAI to not open legal proceedings over the Thierry Henry handball that scuppered Ireland's chances of playing at the 2010 World Cup. The payment is alleged to be around €5 million, but don't worry, according to the FAI it was a completely above-board payment.
Speaking to RTE, Delaney called it "a very good and legitimate deal" but said that he was bound by a confidentiality agreement not to name the exact figure. There is also no indication of how exactly this sum of money was distributed or used.
Fifa has since explained that it was actually a loan that was written off. They say that following the handball, Fifa "entered into an agreement with the FAI in order to put an end to any claims against Fifa. Fifa granted the FAI a loan of $5 million for the 'construction of a stadium' and at the same time Uefa also granted the FAI funds for the same stadium. The terms agreed were that if the FAI qualified for the 2014 World Cup, the debt would be written off".
Ireland didn't qualify, of course, so the perfectly legal money laundering continues. The number of new stadiums that have popped up in Ireland since that handball? One, but it was already close to completion at the time of the incident and opened just a few months later.
Back on South African shores, the powers that be are steadfast in their denial on any wrongdoing and Danny Jordaan says, "there's nothing to see here, move along while I focus on being a mayor".
Oh, but Danny, you said you could do both jobs, did you not?
If anybody thought this story was going to eat itself up any time soon, they are sadly mistaken. And with Blatter's constant promise of 'reform' (look at him working hard on it with evidence in this Tweet) you can just imagine how much fun the remaining few months with him still in charge is going to be. If there ever was an opportunity for Blatter to sell everyone down the river only to turn around and say, "look at me go, I'm reforming Fifa", now it is.
Buckle up, this ride is far from over.