Monday, August 22, 2011

Badge of Honor

There's no real new news on the progress of FIFA's ongoing investigation of CFU officials.

There's the temporary spectacle of a non-Colin Klass led Guyana Football Federation, where Franklin Wilson expects to keep his seat warm until Mr. Klass's suspension concludes. And then there is Mr. Klass's concession that he expected FIFA's actions. Not, of course, because he did anything wrong, but because he is "one of the outspoken leaders in Caribbean football . . ." Mr. Klass is, then, fully understandably "very disappointed" in the Ethics Committee and he's "upset about it . . ."

The mother ship's move to silence leaders of Caribbean football would lead to more hue and cry from the region if, say, it looked like there was such a crackdown. For while Mr. Klass's future career in international football looks to be very much in doubt, fellow compatriot and Jack Warner-loyalist Captain Horace Burrell is entertaining visions of running not just the CFU but CONCACAF as well. It is a possibility currently openly discussed in Jamaican football circles, with an eye towards the benefits that would potentially inure to the country should Capt. Burrell be elevated.

Around these parts, Bill Archer -- who has provided brilliant commentary and background on the topic for uninitiated Americans like myself -- has asked for someone to lecture him on how Andrew Jennings has no obligation to consider his sources with respect to the current low-intensity campaign to discredit one Chuckie Blazer. I'll confess to bemusement at the full-throated defense of Mr. Ten Percent.

First, the source of the information does not detract from the newsworthiness of the content of the information. The fact that Jack Warner is the person behind the information fed to Andrew Jennings seems uninteresting. What is, instead, interesting is the validity of the information provided. And while we may quibble as to whether characterizing the FBI as investigating Mr. Blazer's financial transactions is misleading, the reality is that Chuck's financial affairs are most curious.

Second, the history of Mr. Jennings' reporting would seem to have established that he is heavily reliant on self-interested whistleblowers disclosing information to attack opponents and, further, the return fire from such escapades in order to obtain information that is otherwise entirely concealed from the public. One sinner hands Mr. Jennings a dossier of documents with the goal of undermining another sinner; the sinner in the cross hairs, in turn, slips other sheets of papers under the many doors of an unreliable blogger hoping that he will run with it.

Here, Jennings runs stories criticizing Chuck Blazer's financial dealings. Mr. Blazer, in turn, lets loose on Jack Warner's continued interference in CONCACAF's affairs and how he's screwing CFU. And the rest of us are awaiting the next salvo while wondering what the problem is with stoking this conflict. Chuck Blazer's not just a really fat rich guy. He's a really fat guy who became rich as an executive in international football on the coattails of Jack Warner's profligate reign over regional football while acting as an attack dog for other men who made it rain off of the beautiful game.

Playing some FIFA executives (and former executives) off of others would seem to be a very fruitful strategy for a reporter.

Consider, for example, Yves Jean-Bart, who took a different angle in pleading his innocence earlier this week. Jean-Bart noted that there was no shame in FIFA in being investigated by an Ethic Committee. After all, as Jean-Bart explains, Sepp Blatter, Julio Grondona, Ricardo Texeira, Jerome Valcke "and others" were all under investigation at one time or another and who would not want to be part of that illustrious group?

For what it is worth, Yves Jean-Bart claims that he is only being investigated because representatives from Haiti failed to meet with investigators in the Bahamas (Jean-Bart, alas, had no Bahamian visa, and the association's secretary, Jacques Lionel Desir, was at the Copa America). Dadou is clean and everyone, even those that despise him, knows this:
"Je suis clean. Tout le monde le sait, et meme ceux qui me haissent."

All of which doesn't really explain why Jean-Bart is the only official from the national association under investigation, but no matter. It makes him part of the constellation . . . Blatter, Grondona, Texeira, Valcke and now, Jean-Bart!

Where else but FIFA could being the subject of an ethical investigation constitute a badge of honor?

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