Cooney and Black

We should all rejoice in the departure of the charlatan that is Sepp Blatter, but what about the hypocrisy of the FA? Here is an organisation with skeletons rattling ominously in its own cupboard.

Sepp Blatter


SO, with the fingers of footballing justice locating his throat and asphyxiation imminent, Joseph S Blatter has decided to resign.

We should applaud, then, the FBI’s forensic investigation of Fifa, the hopelessly corrupt organisation over which Blatter has presided these last 17 years.

But we should also wonder long and hard why no-one applied serious brainpower to the matter years ago when it was obvious that the regime was dodgier than a watch bought in a Naples side street.

Yet, even now, the hypocrisy and humbug of some people who should know better recognises no boundaries.

Last weekend, former Manchester United chief executive David Gill boycotted the Fifa executive committee meeting and later announced he was resigning as a vice-president. Good for him, you might say.

So, why did he go and spoil it all on a very public stage, by proffering the traditional handshake to Blatter? I mean, if the Swiss septuagenarian is the charlatan he’s made out to be, why would you want to shake hands with him?

Gill, of course, was not alone in his hypocrisy. Not to be outdone, the Football Association were fairly vociferous in their condemnation of the old boy, having conveniently forgotten the skeletons that were rattling ominously in their own cupboard.

Skeletons? Well, return to 1999 when bungs and bribes were almost de rigueur in English football. It was alleged that millions of pounds were being lost to the game because of suspect agents and less than circumspect chairmen and managers.

The ruling body decided – most reluctantly, it should be pointed out – that they should investigate their member clubs for any financial chicanery.

Now, you would have assumed they poured all available resources into hunting down the miscreants. Er, not quite.

In fact, they employed one man to be a compliance officer. Graham Bean, a former officer in the South Yorkshire police force, was asked to instigate investigations. He had no back-up team, not even an assistant. Who did they think he was – Lieutenant Columbo?

A cynic might have reached the conclusion that the FA did not want this boat – with its precious Premiership cargo – to rock.

Sadly, Bean was not Columbo. After four years of working alone, receiving scant co-operation from anyone of note, and probably having more daggers inserted in his back than Julius Caesar, he left. He was not replaced.

We should collectively rejoice that the Blatter years are over, but it would be beneficial to everyone if the FA considered putting their own little house in order before they condemn others in future.

CLARE BALDING’S stock is so impressively high that you get the feeling she may be Premium-listed any time soon.

Now she has her own television show, a half-an-hour BBC 2 effort on Friday nights. Her guests are drawn from somewhere near the top drawer of sport. All fine and dandy so far. But, more importantly, is she a good interviewer ?

As far as this watcher is concerned, there remain irritating imperfections in her technique. Like so many of her ilk who favour structure rather than spontaneity, she doesn’t always listen to what her interviewee is saying.

Last week’s show featured, among others, Rugby’s Ben Cohen, whose father was murdered in 2000 when he tried to rescue an attack victim in the nightclub he managed.

Cohen introduced the subject himself, so the suspicion was he didn‘t mind talking about it. But for some reason known only to herself, La Balding duly embarked on an alternate line of questioning.

She asked him about the film that was being made about his career. Cohen, perhaps relieved that he wasn’t being grilled on his alleged relationship with Strictly Come Dancing partner Kristina Rihanoff, revealed that it concentrated on the segment of his life between the ages of 17 and 25.

“Who’s playing you?” cooed Balding.

Cohen refused to name names, so we were left with Balding’s guesswork. This proved as ineffective as her line of questioning. Her first attempt settled on Daniel Craig. No? Well, how about Jason Statham?

Cohen compounded an embarrassing situation by suggesting that this might be beyond their acting abilities. Both men are 47.

Some advice to the new queen of television sport: listen – and learn – girl.


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