KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY —- UEFA will vote in a new president tomorrow. This will be one of two federation presidents: either Slovenia’s Aleksander Ceferin, the clear favourite, or Dutch outsider Michael Van Praag.
Whoever wins will do so in full confidence of the power of the European federation, illustrated by the manner in which it has made the once-independent FIFA ethics committee look like an ass.
At least Domenico Scala, when he saw he could not win his wrestling match with FIFA president Gianni Infantino over a fistful of issues including the continued independence of the world federation’s judicial committees, took the honourable course and resigned as audit panel chair.
Those he left behind in the ethics committee, including most notably its chairman in German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, chose to stay in place. To what effect remains increasingly baffling.
On the one hand the self-undermining ethics outfit continues to pursue already long-banned Sepp Blatter, Jerome Valcke and Jeffrey Webb; on the other it throws down the welcome mat for Michel Platini (also banned from all football activities) to address UEFA Congress in Athens tomorrow.
Gordon Hewart, 1st Viscount Hewart, Britain’s Lord Chief Justice from 1922 to 1940, laid down the adage that justice must not only be done it must be seen to be done.
So presumably Blatter, Valcke and Webb will be granted the equal right of addressing FIFA Congress next May. And Jack Warner. And Chuck Blazer (albeit the last two by video link).
Platini’s ban was imposed for financial misconduct in office; that office was the role of FIFA vice-president which was a direct consequence of his being UEFA president.
If Platini had a vote to cast tomorrow he would doubtless do so in favour of Ceferin who has imitated the Frenchman’s own path to power in 2007, by promising to stand up for the little guy against the cash-rich giants of the club world.
The recent hasty deal – which promises the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern and the Manchester squillionaires even more money and their European Club Association toy a managerial partnership – is super league via the back door.
Platini tried to play King Canute on such issues until he became sidetracked by weird distractions such as UEFA staff time-keeping, resistance to technology, Blatter-baiting, verbal agreements and the like.
This past June Platini had the opportunity to attend matches at Euro 2016, in his native France, “in a personal capacity.” It had to be right. The ethics committee said so.
Instead, he chose to stay away. Back then he would have had to share the limelight with today’s footballer heroes, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Antoine Griessmann and their ilk. Tomorrow in Athens, he can have the stage to himself and thus say whatever he likes.
Eckert has deemed granting Platini this opportunty “a gesture of humanity.”
It’s certainly a gesture . . . but only one which intimates that FIFA ethics justice has gone walkabout.