Saturday, 20 June 2015

A Red Card For Corruption

This week's theme is 'Calling A Halt'. Well, there is so much to take exception to - and to want to put a stop to - that your Saturday Blogger could keep typing righteously all through the week-end and beyond. Bankers' bonuses, child abuse, ethnic cleansing, grooming, gun and knife crime, human trafficking and religious fanaticism would be pretty much at the top of a lengthy list, but I decided a few weeks ago that I was going to use this topic to tackle the issue of corruption in the upper echelons of football's governing body and show a red card to FIFA.

Thanks to the FBI (I never thought I would write those words) and the Swiss police, the task of exposing the cynical corruption and greed that is rife within FIFA is already underway. Warrants have been issued, some arrests have been made and no one in the organisation that runs world football should rest easy at night or feel that they are beyond the law. I hope the investigation will be extensive and rigorous and I hope that FIFA will not be entrusted with putting its own discredited house in order. World governments need to align on this issue and invoke the offices of the UN and the International Courts to enforce changes in the constitution, governance and accountability of FIFA and we, the people (and football fans of every hue), need to hold our governments to that task.

I am very pleased that FIFA president Sepp Blatter has stepped down days after he was re-elected. I like the aphorism that states: You don't sweep a staircase clean by starting at the bottom. As head of that self-evidently corrupt organisation, Blatter needed to take responsibility for allowing such immorality in the ranks - a clear sending off offence. It remains to be seen whether he is implicated in anything illegal in addition.

My poem this week is an attempt to open a window into the psyche of Sepp Blatter.  I've written it as an affectionate pastiche of T S Eliot's 'The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock' (from Prufrock  and Other Observations, published 1917). You don't have to be familiar with the original to enjoy my Blattering of Eliot's poem, but I think it will resonate more if you are...

The Attenuated Love Song of J. ‘Sepp’ Blatter
Senza tema d’infamia… 
Let us go then, you and I,
Leave this half-completed stadium
Spread out against the sky,
To purr in limousines
Down dusty half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of poor exploited workers from Natal,
Arriving in a sweep
Before a luxury five-star hotel
With air-con and an ocean view.
Our insidious intent?
Oh, do not ask “What’s in it for us?”
Let us go and make our visit.
In the penthouse, women come and go
Offering fellatio.
Now is the time to wonder
“Do I dare?”
Time to turn back,
With famous bald spot in the middle of my hair,
My necktie rich and modest,
Conscience clear.
But no.
Here’s no great matter. I am J. ‘Sepp’ Blatter,
Meticulous, urbane,
Shaper and broker of a global game.
I have measured out my life in world cups.
I am peerless and immune from blame.
This is my universe. I have the vision.
I have the right to officiate
And I have the right to recreate.
Do not disturb!
Negotiate my fee discreetly
And satisfaction will be guaranteed,
A cast-iron decision immune from revision.
Then there will be time
For all the works and pay-days,
Time for you and time for me.
This and so much more -
Wealth and power and glory for us all.
Behind the scenes, detectives come and go
Compiling their portfolio.
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker.
I believe my minions start to bicker,
I know the voices lying with a dying fall
In the sunsets and the dooryards;
I have heard reporters snicker
And I’ve bitten off the matter with a smile.
However, when I am penned and wriggling
In the hall of justice
Then how should I begin
To defend my days and ways?
Rebut those who presume to accuse?
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse,
Should I have the strength to ride the crisis?
And will it have been worth it, after all,
To have squeezed the universe into a football,
To be brought in upon a silver platter
To be auctioned to the highest bidder?
I am J. ‘Sepp’ Blatter. I grow old.
I shall wear the bottoms of my prison trousers rolled.
I may hear the klaxons and the vuvuzelas singing
Each to each in the favelas
And the football anthems ringing out of reach
But I do not think that they will sing for me.
Thanks very much for reading. I'd encourage you to check out Eliot's  original. It's a brilliant poem and you'll find it in most collections of his best writings.

Have a great week, Steve ;-)


Christo said...

How wonderfully inventive, Steve.
I love pastiche in general, and your rendering of the tone and allusiveness of Prufrock is so well-achieved.
I have a special connection to Prufrock as I was told at the time that my comments of appreciation on the poem won me places on interview at both Leicester Uni and Reading Uni - I chose Reading.
I very much doubt whether we shall ever see dear Sepp, the Great Survivor, with prison dungarees rolled, but I love how toy have made so much of The Love Song bend to accommodate the Swiss Hi-Roller.

Christo said...

toy should read as "the way"

Steve Rowland said...

Thanks Christo, for your very generous comments. I'm pleased you liked the pastiche - nearly as challenging to write as a completely original piece (if there is such a thing) but I liked the way it turned out.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant Steve.

Steve Rowland said...

Sepp Blatter the FIFA president was today suspended for eight years from all football-related activities following an investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee. It found Blatter (and UEFA boss Michel Platini) guilty of breaches surrounding a £1.3m payment made to Platini and stated that the pair had demonstrated an "abusive execution" of their positions. Keep digging.