The row that has erupted over FIFA’s handling of the much trumpeted Michael Garcia report on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup means we are once again seeing a re-run of what is now sports oldest soap opera: how shall we reform FIFA? It is not often that bad movies get so many repeat showings, even on a dank, dull, evening in Bognor. But then this is FIFA – an organisation where the past is not a foreign country but one that is always being revisited.
And it is no surprise that some of the suggestions for change are also some very old and very corny ideas. They have had much publicity but you can be sure it will not lead to any material change in how the house of football in Zurich is run. So we have had letters from FA chairman Greg Dyke to each of the FIFA executive members demanding that FIFA publish the Garcia report in full.
For Dyke to write such a letter is astounding. The FIFA executive has no power over the report as it has been prepared by the ethics committee, a body which is at arms length from the executive. In fact in that sense the ethics committee is not much different from the FA’s own disciplinary body which sanctions misdemeanours in English football. That body, as the FA always reminds us, is very distinct from the FA board let alone the FA council. Totally separate, totally independent, we kept being told. Any attempt to get the FA board or council to intervene is always rejected on the grounds that this would violate how the FA operates. So how can the FIFA executive intervene in a body over which it is not supposed to have any control? I would be surprised if Dyke did not know this. I suspect he and the FA hierarchy felt that he had to write this letter to show he was making a response and, probably, comforted himself with the thought that it would prove a great sound byte. It has. But it will lead to nothing.
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