Wonderful! It was my turn to release everyones’ chickens this morning and I arrived at first light clad in the fashion of Captain Scott. Having heard the weather forecast of temperatures low enough to freeze an eskimo, I was armed with a blow-torch fully expecting an hour of thawing. In fact not one of the many containers was frozen and everything was shipshape by the time that Vernon came in. I said that he should be impressed by the sheer efficiency of the duty melter. But my Jamaican mate is not easily fooled and replied that if I continued to tell lies I would find myself transferred to the FIFA world.
Yes, he too had watched last night’s Panorama. We both found it staggering that people such as David Cameron should have attempted to persuade The Beeb to postpone the programme lest it influenced the panel due to select the venues for the 2018 and 2022 soccer World Cups. He, and the others who agreed with him, must have lost their moral compass for what the programme revealed was several very serious charges of massive corruption. Already two FIFA members have been suspended and now we learn that three or four others, who will be adjudicating, are claimed to be implicated in fraud of the most venal variety.
The findings were shown to Swiss MP Roland Buechel, an expert in the field of football administration. Having heard the facts his reaction was immediate. He said that ” after years of corruption we now need an external, an international and an independent investigation into the FIFA books”.
I confess to knowing litte about FIFA other than the constant appearance on the news of President Sebb Blatter who seems to be a sort of self-appointed head of world football. The impression given yesterday was of a clique of people with absolute power to make decisions that involve many billions of pounds. The suspicion is that the countries competing for their votes offer inducements and some provide vast amounts of cash that are not subsequently accounted for.
Those who were anxious to stall the BBC revelations present as their case the fact that many of the allegations go back a number of years. But that makes the situation even worse for it suggests that the alleged crimes – and that is what they are – have either gone undetected in which case there is clearly no proper audit, or have been condoned by others. Even Trinidad ExCo member Jack Warner stands accused of trying to buy tickets for the next world cup to the value of £50,000 and he is due to join David Cameron for lunch!
So severe are the accusations that one cannot avoid the conclusion that even the inept English Football Association must surely question its continuing to be a member state until there has been a full and independent inquiry. Panorama produced documentary evidence and it is intolerable that such a discredited organisation should continue to make decisions involving money on a gigantic scale.
Clearly it is now too late to have the decision-making meetings postponed but if British football is to retain any semblance of decency and propriety it must surely take a stand. The tragedy is that whatever is decided now will attract suspicion and the thought of our prime minister and future King toadying to people accused of fraud is very hard to take. The reality is that those on the catwalk are going along with the world governing body’s refusal to reform!
Some newspapers today have suggested inducements such as aircraft carriers or palaces but the situation is too serious to be laughed off. They should also note that apart from the claims of serious fraud, the programme provided details of the conditions that our government has accepted. A Dutch parliamentarian attacked these with vigour, she said the laws of a country should not be changed to make exceptions for individual organisations least of all those that have a dubious record. As David Mellor put it, this time corruption must be rooted out and there should be no amnesties or exceptions.
Like most soccer fans I and my pals were keen to see a successful England bid. But now we are less sure. Will we be supping with the Devil and providing it with a cloak of respectability that when it eventually ignites will burn us too?
Blatter’s seemingly dysfunctional “football family” should be left with the choice of becoming a transparent international parliament or admit its intention to continue to provide a means for opportunists to sell power to would-be hosts and private companies!
VIOLENT OFFENDERS ARE GETTING OFF WITH CAUTIONS!
We all know about the views of Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, on crime and punishment but only now do we learn the extent of his proposed leniency. Yesterday John Thornhill, chairman of the Magistrtaes Association, revealed in a speech to the associations annual meeting that no fewer than 37,000 offenders guilty of violent assault are being let off each year with a caution. He demanded that such cases be brought before the courts and added that in almost every case a prison sentence would have resulted.
This outburst folows that of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, who said that he felt very strongly that all violent offenders who cause injury to others should be dealt with by a court.
As Lord Judge remarked it must be extremely difficult for injured victims to come to terms with the fact that their assailant has received nothing more than a rebuke.
Justice must be seen to be done. Right now that is not the situation and Clarke’s new world of forgiveness will make things even worse. It is time for him to move into the real world!
H & S BRIGADE STRIKE AGAIN!
Todays health and safety lunacy comes from Essex. Ron Warrick is a lollipop man and has been helping pupils from St Marys Primary School in Shenfield across the road for some time. But after the council installed a pedestrian crossing he was told that he must not leave the pavement because of the danger of motorists jumping the lights.
Adrian Tidbury from the highways department says that Ron could still be out there when the lights change and that is dangerous. Parents are astonished and wonder why it is not equally dangerous for six year olds!
ASHES; ADELAIDE HERE WE COME!
The scene is set for a tight match at Adelaide. Will Australia persevere with Johnson whose bowling in the first Test was just about as bad as things can get. But when he hits the right line and length his speed makes him dangerous.
England has a similar problem in that Swann at Brisbane looked a shadow of his recent all-conquering past. The Adelaide pitch is notoriously slow and spin could be the deciding factor.
But I tend to line up with Shane Warne who is quoted as saying that neither team is capable of bowling the other out twice!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Guyana 2. Lockheed
TODAYS QUESTIONS; 1. In what year was the European Monetary system formed? 2. Which city became the capital of the unified state of Vietnam?