Just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier at the HQ of football’s world governing body, along came Simon Brodkin. That’s the British prankster who suddenly showered Sepp Blatter with fake dollar bills in his attempt to “secure the 2026 World Cup for North Korea”.
Despite being led away by Swiss police eventually, he achieved the publicity he wanted. Though the mess he created with his party piece could never rival the one that already existed at the house of FIFA.
After witnessing Brodkin’s party piece I spared a thought for the respected reputations and careers of those in the entertainment profession that have been seemingly ruined by FIFA.
Namely Gerard Depardieu, Tim Roth and Sam Neill.
Presuming they weren’t forced, or indeed bribed, these fine actors would have made their own decision to star in the execrable FIFA film United Passions where the men who run the organisation are shown in the biopic to be noble heroes saving the people’s game.
Little did these thespians know. Little did they know they while they were making possibly the dullest, most pointless bore fest in cinematic history, what was really going on at 21st century FIFA was way beyond the imagination of the most gifted scriptwriter.
The real characters. Wow. The septuagenarian boss, touched with delusion, genius or both, somehow hanging on as the main character, roundly booed by the public, but stubbornly resisting. Casting himself, the man on whose watch it all happened, as the man to bring change.
It’s tragi-comic, it’s dark, it’s virtually Shakespearean. Could fiction have possibly matched the drama of his resignation, the resignation where he deliberately didn’t use the word resignation?
Four years ago I compared Blatter to that memorable and entertaining TV villain from the show Dallas JR Ewing. He was the power-hungry and scheming head of the family (the Ewing family not the FIFA family in his case). I was reminded Blatter is not a criminal. Nor was JR Ewing to my knowledge!
There are two many other intriguing characters to mention them all. The larger-than-life American FBI informant. The outspoken lawyer. The hard-hitting Attorney General. The fallen FIFA star – man who could have been President – spending weeks in a Zurich cell accused of money-laundering, then extradited to the States to face the music in New York. We also have Blatter’s French arch-enemy waiting for his Presidential chance. And Jack Warner…Jack Warner. Could you have made his exploits up?
Surely these are characters Depardieu, Roth and company would have relished depicting. Surely there are actors out there hoping the movie is eventually made, and want the chance to growl a line like: “FEEEEFA? America is showing you….the RED card.”
And as for the scenes; how’s a dawn raid on a posh Swiss hotel sound for an opener? Now that’s drama.
A straight movie would work. A satirical movie would work. But actually, it’s been a soap opera. There’s so much material it could be a daily soap opera without a dull moment. There are many people trying to write their own episodes, their own reality, their own exits, not least Blatter.
In reality the finale football needs may involve a new lead character to bring stability. A respected figurehead untainted by the years of corruption and turbulence. But there is no sign of a finale – naming a new President does not instantly resolve the geopolitical mess, the mistrust that transcends the game of football.
Russia, Qatar, the Middle East and of course the United States, are among those embroiled in this saga, with the 2018 and 2022 World Cups still questioned and investigated. Few major nations are rejecting a part in the drama – as proven with China’s recent rebuke of America and its “self-appointed role as world police”.
Try to imagine a denouement, possibly Blatter’s exit, that outstrips the real thing and you will probably fail. I’m thinking of the outgoing President up on the FIFA roof, refusing to come down, holding the name of his successor in an envelope, a World Cup replica trophy and one if the disbelieving hacks held hostage. Platini below in leather jacket, shades and microphone trying to persuade Blatter to come down and ‘release football.’ Making light of a serious situation? Well even Blatter was on the verge of a smile after he’d recovered composure from the prankster incident. He’s not stupid, he knows it’s a case ‘if you don’t laugh you’d cry’.
And my fiction may be outlandish. But not much more ridiculous that an anodyne film depicting FIFA officials as heroes. And little more ridiculous that a British jester making a worldwide stir with his fistful of dollars flung at the President.
Best park the imagination and wait for the next exciting episode of…….FIFA HQ.
Lee Wellings is the Sports Correspondent for Al Jazeera English based in London. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Lee on twitter @LeeW_Sport