mohamed bin hammam

Andrew Jennings über Joseph Blatter: „The autumn of football’s patriarch“

VANCOUVER. Hier wollen sie rein. Mohamed Bin Hammam, Chung Mong-Joon, Michel Platini, Jack Warner und einige andere. Das ist der Fingerscanner zu Joseph Macchiavelli Blatters Büro im FIFA House in Zürich. Die Tür zum Machtzentrum des Weltfussballs öffnet sich nur für Sepp. Nein, es geht nicht um Fingerabdrücke, die die Cops von FIFA-Funktionären nehmen.

Die Frage ist, ob dieser Schlüssel zum Glück im Sommer nächsten Jahres neu programmiert werden muss. Ob die Finger eines anderen FIFA-Supremo eingescannt werden müssen. Oder ob sich Sepp nicht schon früher verabschiedet.

Einen außerordentlich fiktiven, grandiosen, frei erfundenen, satirischen Beitrag zur Situation eines großen Sportverbandes hat Andrew Jennings geschrieben.


Eine Kostprobe:

„The Autumn of Football’s Patriarch“

by Andrew Jennnings

THE OLD MAN, he’s 74 in a few weeks, sits upright in his uncomfortable leather chair and gazes towards his interviewer a yard and a half from his eyes. He’s been waiting many months for her and, appreciating her good fortune, she is reverential, notebook on her knee and pen in hand but only the audio recorder balanced on the arm of her matching chair can capture the nuances of his long-rehearsed delivery.

All must be in its place for the set-piece, decorating his life’s narrative. Behind his head, a replica golden World Cup Trophy. On the coffee table is a branded banner, maybe 18 inches high, with his final attempt to be taken more seriously than he knows he deserves, the contrived slogan ‘For the Game, For the World.’

He is dressed as the mortician would like to receive him, pale blue shirt, slightly darker tie, dark suit, skull polished, remaining hairs smoothed back to his neck. Outside the polished aluminium window frame it is still late winter on the bleak hill above Zurich. (…)

Over-shadowing the endgame of Patriarch is the flapping jalabiyya of the man who once bankrolled him but now, between mouthfuls of honey, dates and coffee, practices swinging the curved executioner’s sword.

‘With Mohamed, we had a wonderful time together as friends up to the last congress in May,’ says Patriarch. ‘All of a sudden our friendship was broken. Ask him, why? I don’t know.’

OH YES HE DOES. Patriarch went behind the back of the man from the Gulf, and 14 months from now there must be retribution in football’s Chop Square. Such an inept manoeuvre shows the Big P is losing his touch. To mock a man backed by an Emir’s billions is unwise.

The alliances that will form the death squad are still being negotiated. There’s a second shadow, a kimchi billionaire of heavy industry and politics from the Far East and nearer home, dangerously near, across a few Alpine ranges to the south and closeted with his advisors in his modern palace overlooking Lac Geneva, the third shadow of a charismatic, curly-haired, beautiful former athlete.

Unlike Patriarch, this man’s tie, shirt collar and jacket always look dishevelled, as if he’s come straight from a kickabout in the car park. In his homeland, France, he cannot walk the streets without being mobbed. Patriarch never knew such popularity, such love. (…)

When his long-time Polish girlfriend Ilona walked out in late 2008 he knew his game would henceforth be going down, not up. Increasingly disorientated, he has fumbled his way through recent public appearances.

He giggled away concerns of John Terry’s philandering as ‘Anglo Saxon’ exceptionalism. ‘If this had happened in, let’s say, Latin countries, then I think he would have been applauded.’ There was a kind of group holding of breath. Then embarrassment rippled across the world.

A man who has worked with him for much of two decades and watched him when he didn’t, says Patriarch is now a confused specimen. ‘In his own mind he casts himself as a victim, now doubting he can anymore walk on water.’

When Patriarchs summon God to support their cause, you can hear the mortician cough and reach for his measuring stick. ‘If I’m still wanted by the congress and God will give me health I will go, but if the congress says no, then I will say ‚thank you,’ meaning he’s undecided when exactly to reach for his coat and turn in the car keys.

Uh huh. Why did she wait so long to give us this second, fin de siècle announcement. It is because she defers to the Great Dictator but we are the lucky ones because she lets him dictate his obituary as he would wish it were constructed for his favourite newspaper, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

BACK TO Patriarch’s custom-built mirror. He dazzles himself with talk of his 35 year ‘mission’ to make the world a better place but still his meanness writhes in a dark corner as he tells her that ‘unlike former presidents’ (that’s one in the shrivelled nuts for the previous Patriarch, now aged 93 and, in Rio, beyond the reach of the Swiss cops) he has been ‘committed to a wide range of humanitarian projects.’

Fighting child labour: Tick that box. UNICEF, tick again. Fair Play, Respect, Discipline, Social Advancement, Mutual Understanding, Eradicate Polio, Improve Public Health.

Switch Ticking machine to rapid fire, fax results to NZZ Obituaries Department.

Keep reading, here’s Patriarch’s ‘Love Affair With Africa.’ Indeed he so much loves Africa that, lacking a son, he has bequeathed it to Nephew. Patriarch talks frequently of the Family of Football – but when there’s money to be extracted, it’s a very small family. Nephew has been given an enormous chunk of the television rights to the Big Games in South Africa this year and if that isn’t enough, he’s been gifted a large bite size of the ticketing for the corporations. (…)


Ich war immer skeptisch und habe die nimmermüde, einmalig begeisternde Euphorie meines Freundes Andrew Jennings selten verstanden, diesmal aber komme ich ins Grübeln. Denn es ist ja so: Die neuen Herausforderer Bin Hammam und Chung haben nicht nur Geld und eine Hausmacht, sie haben im Laufe der Jahre Wissen angesammelt, das Sepp akut gefährdet.

Nicht zu vergessen: Während des Wahlkampfes um die FIFA-Präsidentschaft, während der gigantischen Schlacht um die Weltmeisterschaften 2018/2022 bleibt der Posten des Chefs der FIFA-„Ethikkommission“ verwaist – denn Lord Sebastian Coe hat sich ja vor mehr als einem Jahr beurlauben lassen.

Sollte man deshalb besser sagen: Die FIFA hat weder eine Ethik, noch eine Ethikkommission, noch Mitglieder einer Ethikkommission? (Der Link auf der deutschen FIFA-Webseite führt ins Leere, auf der englischen Variante steht seit langer Zeit: The new composition of this committee will be confirmed in due course.)

Geschäftsethik beweist die FIFA auch nicht immer. Der VISA-Mastercard-Gerichtsgang, der den Verband rund 100 Millionen Franken kostete, hat das einst grandios bestätigt. In den Gerichtsakten fand sich damals eine FIFA-interne Email, in der sich die Kameraden um den damaligen Vielfachlügner, danach von Blatter gefeuerten und kurz darauf zum Generalsekretär ernannten Jérôme Valcke gefragt:

„Was müssen wir tun, dass es wenigstens ein bisschen so aussieht, als habe die FIFA-Geschäftsethik?“

Sehr gute Frage. Nächste Frage bitte. Oder mal Jack Warner fragen.

Einige Fragen, die ich FIFA-Medienchef Nicolas Maingot gestellt habe, sind noch offen. Derweil ein kurzer Nachklapp zum gestrigen Beitrag, eine Zusammenfassung, erschienen u.a. in Berliner und Süddeutscher Zeitung: