The trial which takes place from June 8 to 22 before the Swiss Federal Criminal Court, with Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter as main protagonists, has many facets: procedural, judicial, political too… Above all, without even trying to prove or not the guilt of the accused “on suspicion of fraud, unfair management, breach of trust and forgery in the titles”, the facts revealed are enough to shed new light on the reality of football today, and especially its parent company, FIFA.
The championships have stopped on the Old Continent. And the League of Nations is unlikely to arouse passions capable of overshadowing the other football news: the trial of Sepp Blatter, former deposed president of FIFA, and Michel Platini, ex-boss of UEFA who fell into disgrace. However, like the clash between lawyers which has just ended between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp somewhere on the side of Fairfax, Virginia, the notion of victory will not be measured only in terms of conviction or fine. The main issue lies almost elsewhere. The real judgment will ultimately bear on football and what it has become, and how much the veil has been torn on the beautiful humanist declarations or the peaceful interpersonality on the shores of the Swiss lakes. This fairly banal case from a legal point of view nevertheless constitutes a beautiful mix of genres. Lovers of the theater will detect there Shakespeare as the filial relationship betrayed between these two “lords” would not detonate in the work of the brilliant playwright. Accountant souls will have fun looking at the sums mentioned and contemplating the functioning of a FIFA still covered by a strange status of non-profit organization, which immunizes it from the tax authorities. Finally, readers of Machiavelli or Sun Tzu will seek in detail the revelations on the art of war within the major bodies of international sport where all shots are allowed, which will also delight fans of Succession.
Platini, the fallen green angel
First name we think of, with our little tricolor chauvinism: Michel Platini. This great hero of the people and of French football finds himself in clothes that he certainly never wanted to put on in front of public opinion and even less history. He doesn’t like to talk about money, it seems. Regarding the famous 2 million Swiss francs received nine years later, after a promise “oral” , he is content to preach his sincerity. A line of defense that does not take into account the amount and especially the process. He has ” forgot ” to claim and for the rest, he did as ” everybody ” ? Only this fable hardly holds water, and above all scratches its legend to blood. Upstream, the immense player of the Greens, of Juve, the mythical number 10 of the Blues, who then went on a crusade to defend the pleasure of the game before the greed, to the point of taking up the idea of making classify football by UNESCO as a world heritage site. In front of the watch of the court, a top executive of a multinational who claims to be taken at his word. Whether or not there was a violation becomes secondary. A completely different face is revealed. Not that of an innocent corrupted by the system, but of the banality of a course and conversion to the habits and customs of a world where one knows how to cajole, financially, one’s friends. Suspicions around his support for Qatar’s candidacy, and a certain dinner in the presence of Nicolas Sarkozy, then President of the Republic, end up tarnishing a halo that shines less and less.
Blatter, the Fallen King
Sepp Blatter now. He embodied so many changes in football and FIFA. His economic appetite, his thirst for power, his need for recognition among the greats of this world, even dreaming of a Nobel Peace Prize. A king without a kingdom, who no longer wanted to leave his throne, to the point of leading his designated successor, Michel Platini, to rise up against him. It will serve as a fuse when the accumulation of scandals (Panama Papers, Football Leaks, etc.), revelations or investigations (on the attribution of the World Cups for example) will require a pseudo “clean hands” operation. He will therefore drag down his Brutus in his fall. He finds himself at his side for a common fault that no one saw at the time. By coming to tell this nice arrangement, here is the football of the suits which recalls that of the shorts, the small arrangements of the transfer window or other signing bonuses. Except that in the hushed offices of Zurich or Nyon, we must rather eye Wall Street or the GAFA. We must not forget the devil out of his box in the person of Gianni Infantino. He began his tenure by promising to put football back at the heart of FIFA’s mission. He found himself serving soup to Putin and acting as a media human shield for Qatar. Sepp Blatter must have smiled often in front of his TV.
And football in all this? What does he have to gain in these few days and jousts between lawyers? A sad spectacle offered by these great men in charge of the destiny of this sport, the most important in the world, and who end up behaving basely like the vulgar senior executives of a multinational, where the runoff is not in vain this time word. A major trend also that no framework or law comes to regulate, and it will surely not be this trial that will stop the mad race. After all, Michel Platini’s consulting fee recalls the cost of certain reports from expert firms such as McKinsey for our government, denounced by the Senate, and whose quality and reality of the work seem questionable. Once again, luckily for us, football is bigger than FIFA or the Superleague.
By Nicolas Kssis-Martov