Platini remains defiant
LONDON — Blink and you would have missed the latest instalment in a process of decline which is accelerating so fast that one of the great forces in world cricket could be extinct in 10 years.
It was West Indies’ innings defeat in the first of their two-test series in Sri Lanka, all over in little less than four days and enough to break your heart if you viewed that imperious side of the 1980s with admiration as well as resignation.
At a time when rugby union’s reward for seeking to expand the game has been a kaleidoscope of new World Cup talent, cricket’s masters are protecting a tight, moneyed elite to which the Caribbean does not belong.
The International Cricket Council want to get away with reducing membership of their 2019 World Cup from 14 to 10 nations and one possible device, it emerged last week, is to cut the number who qualify automatically to six. Bye, bye West Indies. They won’t fancy qualification.
It’s only three weeks since they failed, for the first time, to qualify for the Champions Trophy one-day international tournament, contested by the top eight sides in the world. Two days before that ignominy their coach Phil Simmons was suspended for declaring his unhappiness with the team picked for the ODI series in Sri Lanka.
An Economist piece on the side’s decline by writer Tim Wigmore lays bare the shocking statistical collapse. The West Indies won 71 and lost a mere 20 Test matches against the other eight Test-playing nations between March 1976 and March 1995. Since June 2000, they have won 14 and lost 78.
This destruction has, to a substantial degree, been self-inflicted. The West Indies Cricket Board and West Indies Players’ Association have been in a state of perpetual warfare, leaving the islands’ best players with no compunction about becoming T20 mercenaries rather than playing for their national team. Who, in the Caribbean, wants to watch a sub-standard, under-strength cricket team when there is American basketball on TV?
But that is only part of the story. As Sam Collins and Jarrod Kimber’s critically acclaimed film Death of a Gentleman revealed this summer, the opaque, unaccountable ICC has seen to it that a small oligarchy of three wealthy cricket nations — India, England and Australia — have become richer, while the have-nots are left to get by on scraps as best they can, with West Indies, one of the latter, down in the dust.
The Caribbean is still unsure whether India will inflict the grave financial blow on them of refusing to tour their islands in the future: recrimination for the West Indies’ abandoning a tour of the sub-continent this year because of a pay dispute.
The way the ICC distributes money is also about to change, to the detriment of West Indies, with Australia and England receiving over $150m each over the next eight years, India over $500m and the West Indies around $80m - $43m less than they would have expected under the current system, The Economist suggests. ZURICH — Complaining that he is being “dragged through the mud” in the FIFA corruption investigation, Michel Platini (pictured) believes he is “bullet proof” and has not lost support in his bid to replace Sepp Blatter as the head of world soccer’s governing body.
The UEFA president, who has been suspended for 90 days along with Blatter, confirmed in an interview published Monday in the French daily Le Monde that he had no written contract for the $2 million payment he received from FIFA in 2011.
Risking further FIFA ethics sanctions by breaking confiden-
Just ask Ireland how it feels to be among the have-nots. Their excellent displays in a tightly-fought ODI series in Zimbabwe this month reflects a growth which they owe to excellent governance.
The ICC could not even conjure the minor imaginative leap to pay for a few cameras so that it might be found on Youtube. A littlenoticed press release entitled “Outcomes from the ICC Board and Committee meetings” last Tuesday outlined the new funding regime for smaller nations like Ireland. The shared $55m rise will be mostly eaten up by inflation.
It is this climate which gives you cause to grieve at the words of Clive Lloyd in his foreword to the book Fire in Babylon, inspired by the 2011 film of the same name, which captured the high tide mark of West Indies cricket. Lloyd reflects on what lives most vividly from those times.
“Joel Garner’s deep laugh and the infectious chuckle of Alvin Kallicharran… Desmond Haynes’ raised eyebrows, which were the sign that some kind of horseplay was around the corner.” Lloyd would lean on his bat at the non-striker’s end at The Oval, “inhaling the exuberant buzz that only a West tiality rules, P Platini gave a detailed defensedefe in the case that threatensthreat to end his presidential hopes.
The extra pay for his job advising Blatter from 19982002 was “a thin thing between two men,” Platini said,sa giving a new version of why FIFA could not pay him i in full more than a decade ago.a
“I think it’s shameful to be dragged through the mud,” he said, insisting the case was not a scandal.
Platini submitted his FIFA election application papers before being suspended and hopes that his provisional suspension will be lifted — by the FIFA appeal committee or Court of Arbitration for Sport — to allow him to run.
Platini must still pass an integrity check by FIFA’S election committee, which will scrutinize all applicants after the deadline closes next Monday.
“I don’t think I’ve lost many votes and those who know me know I can look myself in the mirror,” Platini told Le Monde. “I’m bullet-proof.”
On Friday, Blatter told a Swiss broadcaster the payment deal being investigated by Swiss prosecutors as a “disloyal payment” from FIFA funds was a “gentlemen’s agreement.”
Platini and Blatter are appealing against the suspensions imposed this month by the FIFA ethics committee while it investigates the case.
The ethics panel has in recent cases imposed strict bans when soccer officials discussed their cases in the media.
“What annoys me most is to have been lumped in with the others,” said Platini, who joins a long list of past and current colleagues on the FIFA executive committee who have been implicated in corruption allegations.
Platini told Le Monde that Blatter, newly elected as FIFA’S president in 1998, asked him to name his salary to work as a personal adviser.
“’How much to you want?’ Blatter asks,” Platini told Le Monde. “I reply: ‘One million.’ ‘Of what?’ ‘Whatever you want, rubles, pounds, dollars.’ There was still no euro then. He replies, ‘Agreed. One million Swiss francs per year.’”
The former France great has previously said FIFA did not pay him in full at the time because of the governing body’s financial problems.
Platini told Le Monde that Blatter suggested that FIFA’S salary policy prevented him from having a contract that paid the Frenchman more than then secretary general Michel Zen-ruffinen.
“I worked for several months without pay,” Platini said. “After a while, I go see Blatter: ‘You have a problem paying me?’
He says: ‘Yes, I can’t pay you 1 million because of the wage structure. You must understand that the secretary general gets 300,000 Swiss francs. You can’t get more than three times his salary.
“So we’ll write you a contract for 300,000 Swiss francs and pay the rest later. And that’s what happened. Only later never arrived.”
Platini said he invoiced FIFA for 2 million Swiss francs in 2011 because he mistakenly recalled that he had been paid 500,000 Swiss francs annually at the time, and not 300,000.
FIFA paid Platini in February 2011, weeks ahead of a presidential contest between Blatter and Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar, who both sought Platini’s endorsement. — AP