Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Who does Sepp Blatter think he is?

FIFA president Sepp Blatter (pictured right) has warned the Polish government that if they do not reinstate the suspended board of the Polish football association, the PZPN, then nasty sanctions could follow - meaning he will not just take his ball home with him in a sulk, he might also take away Poland’s chance to co-host the Euro 2012 soccer championships.

The question on many a lip in Poland is this - does Sepp Blatter - and his sidekick at the European governing body UEFA, Michel Platini (pictured sitting, coquetishly, on the left) - think that they are above the wishes of a democratically elected government?

Another question footie lovers here are asking is this: what exactly is the relationship between Sepp Blatter and the now deposed head of the PZPN, Michal Listkiewicz?

I was asked to comment today on this issue by RTE radio in Ireland - the programme was 'Sports Drivetime' - so there is a lot of international interest in this strange affair.

When the Sports Ministry wound up the present board of PZPN this week they also did what many wished they had done years ago - got rid of Michal Listkiewicz, who has been in the job since 1989 - a rare feat in a country which gets tired of its officials after a few weeks, at best. Listkiewicz has long, then, presided over a football association that has sat on its hands - when those hands are not busy taking a few bribes and greasing a few palms…allegedly - at a time when over 100 football officials, referees, managers and players have been arrested in Poland on charges of being involved in the wide spread sleaze which appears endemic within Polish football.

Sepp Blatter - more powerful than God, more sexy than...Brad Pitt?

The Polish media today is full of reports on the close relationship between Sepp Blatter and Michal Listkiewicz. Sepp said yesterday that Listkiewicz was the only man in Warsaw that he could do business with. What's more, national sports institutions, says Sepp, should be completely independent of government, and elected politicians should keep their nose out of PZPN’s business. If not, then “there will be consequences”.

Blatter and Listkiewicz do seem unusually close. The Dziennik newspaper carries allegations today that they share girlfriends! Allegedly, Listkiewicz’s long time lover, the 40 year-old Ms. Ilona Boguska, is now the 71 year old Sepp Blatter’s new flame. I suppose she loves him for his…understanding of football, who knows. Sepp and Michal are very good friends indeed, evidently, and if you mess with Listkiewicz then you are gonna have to get past Blatter first.

Which is… nice.

Normally I would agree that national sports associations should be completely independent of government. But these are not normal times in Polish football. Sponsors are loathed to get involved with a game that, quite frankly, stinks. So cleaning up Poland’s football industry is a legitimate area for government to be involved in if - and this is a big if - the current football association has been negligent.

And the kindest thing one could say about the current losers in the PZPN is that they have been ‘negligent’.

By the way, four names are in the hat to take over from Sepp’s Listkiewicz as head of PZPN - one or two of them you might of heard of: Grzegorz Lato and Zbigniew Boniek. Boniek was a fine, fine footballer, of course. But do fine footballers necessarily make good sports administrators?

The best way to answer that question is to just name one high profile football politician who is now the second most powerful administrator in the game: Michel Platini - a glorious footballer, but a complete oaf as head of UEFA. Maybe its time, not just to blow the whistle on corruption in Polish football, but show a red card to Sepp Blatter and the rest of the cronies at FIFA.


Anonymous said...

If the Polish Football Association is private non-governmental body then what right do they have to remove its board?

beatroot said...

As I said before, Jan, in normal times I think what you say is correct and essential. But these are not normal times and the abject failure of the current PZPN - at a time of coruption ahead of something as crucial for the economy as it is for Polish football, like Euro 2012 - then I think under those circumstances, it is OK for a government to act.

Polish football needs to reinvent itself, pronto...enough!

Anonymous said...

With Poland’s track record on violence, racism and corruption with respect to football how did they get the Euro 2012 soccer championships in the first place? Not to mention poor infrastructure. Did somebody get paid off at the international level of UEFA?

It seems there is little support at the international level for fighting corruption at the national level.

Shouldn’t the government have withdrawn its support for a bid at Euro 2012 if it wasn’t satisfied with the status quo?

beatroot said...

With Poland’s track record on violence, racism and corruption with respect to football how did they get the Euro 2012 soccer championships in the first place?

I think her name is Ilona Boguska,:-)

Anonymous said...

So why the puck did you put the pictures of the two guys in the original post?

I couldn't find any images of her via google.

Some help? Is it spelled right above?

Anonymous said...

And by the way, how about updating the top of the Polish charts radio stuff?

beatroot said...

I don;t know much about Ms Boguska, sadly. Will try and find a photo for your delictation, Mr Geez.

But without the photo of the chick in question, I turned to a lovely picture of the racy relationship between Blatter and Platini...they look very happy together, too.

beatroot said...

photo with blatter's chick now in post.

Anonymous said...

Ah. He seems very happy. And why not? She seems indeed purty.

So Blatter is engaged with the lady and Listkiewicz at the same time -- a threesome? Or the guys are dating her seperately? Or she used to be Listiewicz's babe but she dumped him? Or he offered her up to Blatter so he could get Euro2012 or what? And how does Michel Platini feel about any of this?

Anonymous said...

Personally I'd like to see the Polish government announce that if FIFA or UEFA take any action against Poland, Poland will introduce a 50% tax on any product with any brand of any company which sponsors any FIFA or UEFA event.

beatroot said...

And why not?

It is clear that FIFA, UEFA and PZPN are one and the same, they look after each other and appear to conspire to obstruct investigations into match fixing and bribary.

I repeat - in normal situations sports associations and all civic society institutions should be free and independant of government. But when the name of Polish football is being draggewd through the shithole then FIFA should assist in helping the PZPN turn over a new leaf. And that means getting rid of those cronies in the association.

Unknown said...

Cogent comments Beetroot. The best thing is for the gov't to hold firm and if needed forgo 2012 and the playoffs as a matter of principle and take the high road to clean this dirty organization once and for all. I hope they have the brass to do it. I guess will know in short order.

beatroot said...

That view is hardening here.

The problem is that the previous PiS government suspended the association board last year. FIFa threatened them and they caved in.

That, in the minds of Blatter et al suggests weakness and they are having another go,expecting Tusk to cave in, too.

I think Warsaw would take being thrown out of the world cup. But losing Euro 2012 is not just about losing a sports event - it means losing an economic event.

So who will blink first? How tough is Tusk?

Anonymous said...

Do the Euros actually make money for the host country above and beyond the expenditures that must be made?

I know World Fairs are often a money losing venture.

beatroot said...

It's not just the income from all the visitors, TV rights etc. More importantly to get Poland ready for Euro 2012 the country needs massive infrastructure investment - in highways (Poland has few) hotels etc etc. Givin g up the games will all the investment that will come into the country...

Which government would risk all that? We are playing for big states here.

Anonymous said...

But has anyone studied homeland expenditures vs foreign income for the countries that hosted Euro 2000, 2004? I realize there can be all kinds of variables thrown in there, too, but has any such study ever been attempted?

beatroot said...

Don't know about that...ask a Swiss. But the benifits for Poland would far, far outweight any megatives IF they pull off a good championship.If the only legacy of Euro 2012 was a decent motorway system between here and germany then that would be worth it for me.

Anonymous said...

What if it turns out to be a half-assed highway?

And all other construction projects are similarly semi-completed?

beatroot said...

what if they never begin at all? If the experience of the last 15 years is anything to go by, without the stimulous that Euro 2012 has brought, Poland seems incapable of building any new infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

blah blah blah
the government shyes away from Euro thing - so they are ready to put it on stake - it's nigh on win-win situation

beatroot said...

don't understand that...what ya mean?

Anonymous said...

Even with the stimulus (if that's what it is), the gubmint seems incapable from most all reports I've been reading. Maybe when you get a chance, you can put up a pie chart of what the gubmint is spending money on and how much last year and projected for the next year... you did promise a media sensation when you returned so make it interactive, too, hey? And please, please, please update your Polish top of the pops thingy on the internet radio...

beatroot said...

:-) sensation takes time whuch I ain;t got, mate.

The budget for 2009 envisages a short fall overall...

As for investment in 2012 then initially - as with all investment - there would be a shortfall...but the payback is HUGE.

FIFA just said that they have found 'consensus' between government and them...will know details tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

In "normal times"? Who decides what's normal: the government? PZPN? Beatroot?
I'm afraid we're stuck with the PZPN. The state and the football association (and your table tennis club) are separate organisations with separate rules. They're all subject to the law of the land, of course, and the legal route is probably one to take: get a few canny lawyers to examine the deeds of association (or whatever the Polish equivalent is) and every contract signed by PZPN for technicalities that might lead to changes in the organisation. But no democratic government has a right to tell me I cannot be head of my tiddly-winks club.

As for the infrastructure: is UEFA going to pay for that or will Polish and European taxpayers?

Kopy Pig said...

Normal - abnormal times, legally it should be all the same, but I feel the idea that you can do what you want in abnormal times is wrong, and only leads to continuing crime. The Polish government cannot have the right to interfere with a private institution, only to bring actions against the individuals concerned. Of course, if you cannot be a member of a board while awaiting criminal proceedings, that is a different, um, ball game.

I get tired of waiting for abnormal times before enough people get off their collective backsides to do something. The fact that the government have waited until now before taking action just shows you how little they (whatever party is in power) care about fighting corruption. This looks to me a face-saving exercise to cover up potential international embarrassment - which is not reasonable for dismissing the board.

FIFA, well, I would gladly put my foot in their balls for their inactivity over the years ;)

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