I am inclined to finally forgive Dempsey
Michael Garcia is a former United States attorney general. I confess to have not known him until Fifa announced that he would be investigating how Qatar won the 2022 World Cup bid, how the Russians snatched the 2018 edition and -surprise, surprise - how Germany won the World Cup 2006 bid.
For far too long people have complained about how the World Cup bid is generally won. It has always been argued that losers are whiners who are driven by sour grapes to complain; that they are bad losers who lack sportsman spirit. The last few bid winners have left me without a shadow of doubt that the system to select future World Cup hosts is terribly flawed.
There is a school of thought that the system needs to be changed and suggestions have been made that all Fifa’s 209 member affiliates must be given powers to vote for the next World Cup host, instead of leaving the decision to Fifa’s 24 wise men who sit on the executive committee.
It also makes a mockery of the appointment of a Fifa technical committee, which is assigned the unenviable duties of investigating a bidding country’s readiness to host the event. Yet it becomes ridiculous, for instance, when you consider that among all the 2022 bidders, Qatar was rated bottom of the pack, yet won the votes by a landslide.
Now please do not get me wrong. I am not in any way pointing an accusing finger at anyone because I subscribe to the saying that all shall be assumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law.
However, the appointment of Garcia, who has been given sweeping powers to subpoena witnesses in his investigation of the 2022 Qatar bid, 2018 Russian bid as well as the 2006 Germany bid has filled me with an indescribable amount of joy, particularly when I recall how South Africa lost so controversially back in 2000.
Perhaps we can finally find closure, because some of us were under the impression that Charles Dempsey stuck a knife in our bid and showed the middle finger to Nelson Mandela and his people. We called Dempsey (may his soul rest in peace) all sorts of names; cursed and declared him public enemy number one.
In our mashed up emotions, we never really stopped and tried to understand why Dempsey abstained from casting that decisive vote. Now evidence is emerging that obscene amounts of money changed hands and deals were signed between influential people and television companies in Germany before Blatter announced the winner.
This is not something that has been dreamed up by yours truly in his senile state at his Pretoria surroundings, but the German and international media have written about it. We were simply too consumed by the disappointment of losing that we failed to reason and to pay attention to what was happening around us, and consequently missed to see the truth that has been staring us in the face for so long.
It is reported by a respected German publication, that a South African delegation from the LOC gathered the evidence of what happened during those heady days and presented it to Fifa in Zurich, seeking justice. It is also reported that Fifa convinced the duo to let sleeping dogs lie and encouraged them to instead bid for the 2010 edition, because the decision to award 2006 to Germany could not be overturned.
Now Garcia has been tasked into unraveling the actual spider web that has entangled the inner workings within Fifa and has always left more questions than answers regarding how it operated. We may finally hear the truth of how South Africa was cheated out of the right to host the 2006 edition.
Some people may say we hosted the 2010 World Cup and should forget and be thankful. I disagree because, had Sepp Blatter’s rotation motion been defeated by all those bully boys who believe the World Cup should be an exclusive preserve of Europeans, we might never have hosted the 2010.
Amos Adamu of Nigeria has been suspended and fined 10 000 Swiss francs. Amadou Diakite of Mali, Slim Aloulou of Tunisia and Ismael Bhamjee of Botswana were heavily censured and banished from Fifa on allegations of corruption and bribery relating to the awarding of the World Cup.
I am particularly saddened by the manner in which Bhamjee was hounded out of the Fifa glass house in Zurich. He was ejected from his hotel room, driven straight to the airport by a chauffeur and literally frog marched to the airport as if he was a criminal, merely for selling World Cup tickets worth a paltry $15 000.
In case people accuse me of condoning Bhamjee’s deeds, I admit that I am inclined to sympathise with him when one looks at his so-called “crime” against what some of the bigger European countries are now suspected to have committed.
Are African leaders within football the only ones who are corrupt? I am not ashamed to admit that I am rubbing my hands in glee at the prospect of what is emerging out of this Garcia investigation initiated by Fifa.
I for one am now inclined to finally forgive Dempsey, who died a lonely, miserable man. I hope, wherever he is, he will also forgive me for calling him “that old fart” and I swear I wouldn’t have called him that had we known what is emerging now.