FIFA Pulls Back the Curtain, but Will It Ever See the Light?
The only breath comes on page 99. It is short: only four lines, three sentences, among thousands. The prose is dry and vigorous, with a rhetorical emotion or praise.
Under normal circumstances, this would be the most notable statement. In the context of the rest of Michael J. Garcia’s so-secret report on how the 2018 and 2022 World Cup sites were adjudicated, it turns out to be the opposite.
“The Belgium / Netherlands bid team provided full and valuable cooperation to establish the facts and circumstances of this case,” Garcia wrote. “Witnesses have been made available for interviews, documents have been produced, and follow-up applications have also been integrated. No identified problems.”
Michael J. Garcia, a former attorney in the United States, was the senior investigator on FIFA ethics and compiled the bidding report for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Credit: Josh Haner / The New York Times
And then, after this brief detour to normalcy, this simple “nothing to see here,” he repeated. One paragraph of the report Garcia continues 430 pages of painting the world’s darkest image by FIFA, what its author calls a “culture of law.”
The label is not enough: what is Garcia, is fear and venality, arrogance and anger, greed and grabbed the body of football management and men who have dominated.
It does so relentlessly that, in the end, the effect must be so draining, so that the rotation of the head and the relief of the soul, is slightly dystopic. This is not only because many requests made by the guardians of FIFA’s self-gratifying game are so comical.
It is not the story of Jack Warner, who is trying to persuade England’s selection candidature to get the job of his son lawyer, then take the shade when the job was not good enough. He did the same when England agreed to play two games with the team under 20 Trinidad and Tobago, but did not think to pay for his plane ticket.