It’s all a bit like Nkandla

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - KEVIN MCCAL­LUM Chief Sports Writer

AT AROUND the same time as Baleka Mbete, the Speaker of the Na­tional Assem­bly, was strug­gling with recog­ni­tion and telling the op­po­si­tion, “You wish”, in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day, Jerome Fal­cke, sec­re­tary gen­eral of Fifa, was do­ing a damn fine im­pres­sion of the ad hoc com­mit­tee on Nkandla in Pre­to­ria.

Fal­cke, in the coun­try to mark four years of the World Cup Legacy pro­gramme, spoke on the find­ings re­gard­ing the bids of Qatar and Rus­sia, in­sist­ing they were above board. “Fifa didn’t clear Rus­sia and Qatar, it was Ethics Com­mit­tee, that’s im­por­tant to note.”

Yes, but the Fifa’s Ethics Com­mit­tee be­longs to Fifa as much as the Nkandla ad hoc com­mit­tee be­longed to the ANC. The out­come was pre­de­ter­mined. The good news, some­one sharp tweeted yes­ter­day, is that Fifa have come to the con­clu­sion that they are not, ac­cord­ing to them, cor­rupt. The ANC have done the same thing.

In­stead, it was the English, the staunch­est crit­ics of the bids of both coun­tries, who found the spot­light turned on them for cosy­ing up to Jack Warner of Concacaf with prom­ises and the odd, well-laun­dered bribe.

A back­han­der re­mains a back­han­der, no mat­ter if it is to pay for a din­ner or cash stuffed into a wal­let. It is, though, a dis­trac­tion tac­tic by Fifa, much like the pre­vi­ous regime of Cricket South Africa or­ches­trated against Gaut­eng Cricket when they dared chal­lenge them over the run­ning of the 2009 IPL.

“It must be made clear that Pres­i­dent (Sepp) Blat­ter did not vi­o­late the FCE (Fifa Code of Ethics). The one con­crete al­le­ga­tion against the Pres­i­dent, con­cern­ing an ac­count pur­port­edly held in his name at a US bank, was demon­stra­bly false,” an­nounced Fifa.

“Mr Blat­ter has im­ple­mented a num­ber of crit­i­cal re­forms, in­clud­ing those that made this in­quiry pos­si­ble. The bid­ding process es­tab­lished by Fifa was for the most part fair and thor­ough, although the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee’s obli­ga­tions in that process ... should have been made more ex­plicit.”

It wouldn’t seem out of place to in­sert “Zuma” for “Blat­ter” and “bid­ding process” for “Nkandla”. Michael Gar­cia, who was ap­pointed by Fifa to in­ves­ti­gate the bid­ding race for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, has said that the re­port, writ­ten by a Ger­man judge who headed up the ad­ju­di­ca­tory arm of the Ethics Com­mit­tee, Hans-Joachim Eck­ert, has mis­rep­re­sented his con­clu­sions.

“(It) con­tains nu­mer­ous, ma­te­ri­ally in­com­plete and er­ro­neous rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the facts and con­clu­sions de­tailed in the In­ves­ti­ga­tory Cham­ber’s re­port. I in­tend to ap­peal this decision to the Fifa Ap­peal Com­mit­tee.”

Good luck to him, but you can’t help but feel there are al­ready peo­ple in the Fifa bunker seek­ing to brief their own Mbete to block and de­flect, to refuse to recog­nise and to tell the world: “You wish”.

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