Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What did he say? Cracks in FIFA.

What did he say?

With the way the football (and statements from football officials) have been bouncing back and forth, I’m scratching my head and asking, “What?”

The apparent rift between FIFA President Joseph Blatter and AFC President Mohammad Bin-Hammam is being played out in the public. These football officials have been in the game and in the public eye for quite some time and their statements aren’t just loose lips but carefully orchestrated moves of which one can only surmise their intention.

This might have been there for the longest time but I began to pay more attention to it when Hammam wrote Blatter about allegedly reneging on the investigation of former PFF president Jose Mari Martinez who is a known supporter of the AFC president.

What happened there was in a meeting in Doha, Blatter and Hammam agreed to investigate Martinez’ ouster more thoroughly. But a week later, FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke issued a statement stating that their findings corroborated that the removal of Martinez was legal and just. An exchange of fax messages ensued with Hammam accusing Blatter of interference in AFC Congress affairs. Why he said that was so mindboggling considering he interfered in a PFF Congress two years ago.

Then came that CNN interview with Blatter where he expressed his opinion that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar be played in the winter months. Not only will that wreak havoc on the domestic leagues but it might even overlap with the 2022 Winter Olympics. Moreover, why wasn’t that proposal brought to the table even before the elections for the awarding of the 2022 World Cup hosting rights? 

What is even more curious is Hammam’s response. "We in FIFA should stop acting on behalf of people who are going to be in power in the future," said the Qatari football leader. "There will be a different executive committee in FIFA which will be in power that day. Let them decide what is best for 2022," he said. "Why are we rushing? Why are you in hurry to decide something for 2022?"

That begs the question – why was there even a vote for the 2022 World Cup? Wasn’t that premature? There will be a different executive committee a few years from now and why are they trying to decide something that is 11 years away? Why was a bid for 2002 held when the World Cups in Brazil and Russia had yet to be played? Why was everyone in a hurry?

In the wake of the officiating busts of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the calls for the use of instant replay and goal-line technology have gotten louder. Blatter has agreed to push for the latter and not the former. In that same interview with CNN, he informed the public that some 17 different systems are currently being tested in addition to improving high level officiating. He did opine that all this might be difficult to pass with the executive committee with people who are supposedly old school.

There is noting wrong with being a stickler for tradition, history, and the rules and statutes. However, if they aren’t open-minded to improving the game, I say that “it’s 2011, if they are still old school then they should retire. After all they’ve been there for quite some time.”

And that is exactly what Hammam is now calling for.

"Everybody is going to accuse us today as corrupted people because maybe people see Mr. Blatter has stayed a long time in FIFA," Bin Hammam told The Associated Press last Monday. "Thirty-five years in one organization is quite a long time. No matter how clean you are, honest or how correct you are, still people will attack you. You are going to be defenseless. That is why I believe change is the best thing for the organization."

However you look at it them’s fighting words. It would be interesting to see if Hammam will oppose Blatter who is seeking a fourth term as FIFA president.

With FIFA in the eye of the storm over the faulty officiating, bribery and corruption scandals as well as controversial rulings, football’s governing body is backpedalling. It’s one step back and two steps forward. Said Blatter: The President of Europe Michel Platini is totally against any technical device because he's afraid that when we are in the goal-line technology we could go to the 18-yard line and we can go to the offside position or whatever, but for the time being we are talking about only goal-line technology. So let's look forward positively.”

Yet in a statement regarding FIFA’s cleanliness that will remind Philippine football officials of the long and arduous task of ousting its former head who was oft quoted in this way, Blatter said: "Our accounts are open to everyone.”


My answer to Monsieur Platini is this: You don't need to go to the offside. You can keep it to the goal-line for now. But consider this... had instant replay been used. There was a chance France might have not gone on to play in South Africa. Considering how Les Bleus embarrassed themselves and the country, maybe that would have been for the best. Ah, but history can only be viewed backwards. Nevertheless... instant replay. Instant replay.


  1. Ironic FIFA, they dont want TV replay but they did investigated Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid for the time wasting incident in a UEFA Champions League game last 2010.

  2. Agree with goal line technology for now.

    It sucks that the whole stadium knew that the goal was in, and the ref is powerless to overturn it. Give him some ammo (goal line tech)

    Takes only a few seconds.

    Replay for offside, wow. That is another proposition altogether. Will take longer, will result in more stoppages of play. Will also result in lesser talking points (and controversies).

    Probably best to implement Goal Line tech first. That would be a massive, massive first step, IMHO.