No tsunami but FIFA's corruption storm rages on

By Mitch Phillips

President Sepp Blatter is embarking on another four-year term and, despite his promise to reform FIFA, the 75-year-old Swiss lawyer is facing almost daily broadsides in the fallout from the corruption scandals centered on the awarding of hosting rights for the World Cup.

In the face of sustained assaults on the integrity of his organization, Blatter has raised some eyebrows by turning to opera singer Placido Domingo as well as 88-year-old former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for advice.

They are among a group of people Blatter drafted in to form a "council of wisdom" to help restore FIFA's tarnished image after he was re-elected unopposed last week.

Skeptics are proving hard to win over though, with Diego Maradona branding FIFA a museum run by dinosaurs who do not want to give up power and saying that, despite the chaos and upheaval of the last few weeks, "nothing would change."

"I'm not surprised Blatter was re-elected because they look after themselves," he said. "They will stay until they are 105 years old. I hope they will resign but don't be under any illusions that they will."

His view echoed those of the many observers who were not surprised when FIFA's over-worked ethics committee announced that Blatter had no case to answer, having provisionally suspended his previous presidential rival Mohamed Bin Hammam, and vice-president Warner, over bribery allegations.

Warner then said that he would create a "football tsunami" by revealing the content of email exchanges with Blatter.

However, he later said that on legal advice he would no longer do so "at this point in time" and restricted his announcements to a defense of his own position.


FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke also rowed back after a leaked email of his suggested Qatar had "bought the 2022 World Cup."

He later said he meant only that Qatar had used its financial muscle to lobby support.

FIFA has now told CONCACAF officials to attend a special hearing in Miami starting on Tuesday where they will be questioned about allegations that they were offered or given bribes by Bin Hammam and Warner in exchange for their World Cup votes.

Freeh, at least, has a background of relevance to the task in hand, while Domingo's only association with the sport would appear to be his role as one of the Three Tenors who made 'Nessun Dorma' the signature tune of the 1990 World Cup.

"They are not the experts but advisers, and what they should be also is the kind of council of wisdom," Blatter said after announcing the appointment of Domingo and 1973 Nobel Peace Prize winner Kissinger.

"People say he (Kissinger) is an old man, but he is a wise man... And if this committee of solutions or the ethics committee have the impression that they should do something then let them take the decisions."

(Editing by Sonia Oxley)