Fifa farce: British press turn on Blatter after vote
Papers react furiously to events at the Fifa congress and attacks on English FA
With Sepp Blatter safely re-elected as Fifa president for another four years and the English FA cast as pariahs of the world game for attempting to stand up to him, the British press has, predictably, had a field day.
The British media was singled out by angry Fifa delegates for its role in exposing corruption at the organisation and, as a result, was subjected to almost as much vitriol as FA chief David Bernstein, after his efforts to stall the coronation of Blatter. But the British press has a proud tradition of fighting fire with fire and has been dishing it out to Fifa.
In the Mail, Blatter is "septic Sepp" while the Sun variously brands him "smug" and "slippery".
Over at the Guardian, Marina Hyde compares Blatter to a Middle Eastern dictator. She talks about his "mad dictator's waffle", "pious vanity" and "lukewarm, expedient claims" of reform, before likening Fifa itself to The Addams Family, only with a "level of tribal dysfunction that would throw the more unhinged of New York's five families into sympathetic relief".
But that is not all. On a more serious note she says of the Swiss-based organisation: "Fifa is a secrecy jurisdiction within a secrecy jurisdiction – a powerful political entity which repeatedly coerces other states into overriding their own constitutions and tax laws, yet remains entirely unaccountable for the manner in which it operates."
There is widespread approval of Bernstein's attempt to stall the re-election of Blatter, but also a realisation that it was doomed to failure. In the Independent James Lawton writes: "The FA has been charged with sour grapes – but better this than some zombie compliance with yesterday's stomach-turning farce."
He also looks further ahead to the 2022 World Cup: "You might have thought there could be no greater madness than yesterday. But that was just the grotesque little show of Blatter's rescued pomp. The reality is the World Cup of Qatar. If Fifa still has a mind, or anything resembling a conscience, it has to be revoked. It is the only way to step back from the edge."
But where do the events in Zurich leave us? "To paraphrase Lyndon B Johnson, England's relationship with Fifa now seems to be one that could be characterised as standing at the door of the tent, pissing in," says Oliver Kay in the Times. "If this sounds depressing, it may prove preferable to the policy of the past 37 years, which has been to stand in a corner of the tent, pissing over its trousers."
However, Henry Winter in the Telegraph believes that the FA was naive and that the time for more serious measures has arrived. "Does nobody within the FA apply the little grey cells?" he asks. "Does nobody have an awareness of world footballing realpolitik? Sepp Blatter's egregious organisation will never be changed by those standing on the outside of Fifa House, sticking out their tongues and making accusations.
"English football sent a cub scout to Zurich when it needed the SAS. To avoid such mortification again, the FA needs to wise up and toughen up."
He says the FA must flex its muscle and "embrace the world, not retreat into a Little Englander mentality and pull up the drawbridge."
Winter concludes: "For the lepers to become lions again, the FA must understand Fifa. Know your enemy. Beat him from within."
The Sun is rather less idealistic and fears the answer lies in money. Its editorial ends on a mournful note: "The only real hope for world football lies with Fifa's powerful sponsors. They have already expressed their grave concerns over the scandal. Now they must lean hard on Fifa to clean up its act or take their millions elsewhere." ·
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