If the FIFA scandal wasn’t so depressing and didn’t have real, terrible consequences, particularly for the workers in Qatar, it would be hilarious. The cast of corporate porcine trough guzzlers involved are like something out of a mediocre Sacha Baron-Cohen film.
Following news that Jack Warner has been banned from football for life by FIFA - sort of like being told off for cheating by Volkswagen - here are five of the most ludicrous figures involved in the ever growing scandal.
1. Chuck Blazer
Formerly General Secretary of CONCACAF and member of FIFA executive committee, now turned FBI informant
Blazer has admitted that he and other officials took bribes but all you really need to know about Chuck can be summed up by the fact that he came to rely, as one journalist put it, on a “fleet of mobility scooters to move from feast to feast”. You can imagine the scene: Chuck Blazer, a Henry VIII figure in a 58L suit, at the apex of a V formation of mobility scooters charging down Fifth Avenue with the thigh bone of a partridge on his lap, desperate to get to luncheon at the Waldorf before the T-bones run out.
Here's Chuck feeding pizza to a parrot
But mobility scooters are only really a viable means of transportation over relatively short distances. If the feast, banquet or repast is more than 2km away then you need something more substantial. In Chuck’s case, you need a $48,000 Hummer bought for you by CONCACAF - the Fifa body that runs football in the US, Canada and the Caribbean. No other motor vehicle on the market could possibly contain the combined girth of Blazer plus scooter. That’s just common sense.
Blazer is also reported to have spent $6,000 a month on an apartment in Trump Tower – where else? – for his cats. It’s always cats. Whenever a rich spinster or a mad lonely heir to a confectionary fortune dies, the bloody cats get all the money.
Another fantastic detail to emerge about Blazer, in an article by The New York Daily News, is that after he had reported another high ranking official’s (Jack Warner) possible corruption to the Fifa ethics committee – that’s functioning well – he feared the wrath of his colleagues and “began moving computers from place to place, often conducting business from the edge of his bed, wearing only his boxers and an oversized Ralph Lauren polo shirt.” How they know this is probably something not to be dwelled on but we think we may have seen him on Chat Roulette.
2. Jack Warner
Formerly Vice President of FIFA, President of CONCACAF, member of FIFA executive committee
Now banned from football, Jack Warner has been accused of taking millions in bribes but that’s not the most interesting thing about Jack. The most interesting about him is this photo which appeared in his own newspaper Sunshine after the recent allegations came to light.
This is the move of a man not like you and I. In the face of an FBI investigation and being put on Interpol’s most wanted list, most of us would squat in a cold shower and gently rock back and forth. But not Jack. Jack orders an intern at his newspaper to roughly Photoshop his head onto the naked torso of a boxer. You don’t get to be head of CONCACAF by not Photoshopping your head onto stuff.
Along with being the proprietor of a newspaper, Warner is also an MP in Trinidad and Tobago but claims to only take “a dollar a month” from his salary. Poor chap, we hope he has some other means of income.
He lives in a large house worth $3m Trinidadian dollars which, according to the Daily Mail, is “ringed with pretty bougainvillea, jasmine blossoms and mango trees where the fruit overhang the walls.” He has also “turned part of some grounds near his home into an unfenced 'Warner Park' for public use - although soccer is strictly banned.” You might think it’s an odd move for the second most powerful person in football to ban the game from a park named after him but then, you don’t know Jack.
So fitting then, that the man is now banned from soccer himself.
3. Nicolas Léoz
Formerly President of the Paraguayan football association, President of CONMEBOL, member of FIFA executive committee
Léoz is one of many officials to be suspected of corruption during the voting for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.
Despite being 86 years old, Nicolas is still an ambitious man. Back in 2010 he allegedly asked British officials for a knighthood in exchange for his World Cup vote. The fact that he is a Paraguayan citizen and not really eligible, doesn’t seemed to have worried him in the slightest. He is reported to have told officials through translators that because he was already very wealthy the only thing he was interested in was an honour. He just wasn’t interested in his own.
But demanding that the Queen make him a knight of a realm he isn’t a member of wasn’t enough. He also asked to have the FA cup named after him. The old cup might lose some of its magic if it became known as the Nicolas Léoz. You can’t imagine John Terry kissing Nic.
According to the Telegraph an email to bid officials said “Dr Léoz is an old man and to go to London just to meet the Prince and go to the FA Cup final is not reason enough. If this is combined, say, with the naming of the CUP [sic] after Dr Léoz then that could be reason enough”.
Thanks Nic, but I think we’ll leave it.
4. Jose Maria Marin
Formerly President of CBF, President of 2014 FIFA World Cup Committee
Marin was among the 14 Fifa officials recently arrested over corruption allegations.
While not as colourful as the other members of this illustrious list, Jose does, of course, have one very strange incident to his name.
Footage has emerged of the 83 year old appearing to steal a medal that he was meant to be handing out after the final of Sao Paolo Youth Football Cup in 2012.
In the video Jose can be clearly seen pocketing the medal instead of giving it to the young player. Afterwards he dimissed the incident as a “joke”.
Yeah, top bantz mate.
5. Sepp Blatter
The man of the moment. Or, actually, the man of lots of moments.
Having previously managed to dodge the poo-storm of corruption allegations that led to his sort-of-resignation, reports are now emerging that Sepp isn't as clean as he would have us all believe. A stunning turn of events that none of us could have predicted.
A string of emails and correspondences suggest that Blatter was involved in a deal with form-South African president Thabo Mbeki that saw $10 million-worth (£6.56m) of payments slide comfortably into the accounts of Jack Warner (see above) - not grounds for US Department of Justice to lay any formal charges on Sepp at present, but the thread is beginning to pull.
Since taking the reigns in 1998, Blatter has withstood an almost constant barrage of criticism of the organisation he leads, culminating in the US attorney general Loretta Lynch declaring that corruption at FIFA was “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted” - nonetheless, this didn't stop him winning his latest fifth term as president last week.
Whether it's his comments on racism ("There is no racism"), gay rights ("I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities"), or advancing the female side of the game ("Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball."), Sepp's apparent disconnect with the wider world's perception of modernity is frankly baffling. The fact that this man has held down the FIFA president role since 1998 is as astonishing as it is damning of the modern game's leadership - or rather, lack thereof.
(Images: Chuck Blazer blog, Rex)