You can’t answer rhetorical questions. By their very nature they exist to make a point, mainly in exasperation.
It was refreshing to see Paul Mason, Channel 4 News’ Economics Editor, break from balanced reporting this week, to ask some pertinent rhetorical questions about the banking industry.
As he stood on a street corner, outside the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland, in the heart of the country’s financial district he was filmed saying,
I am actually just sick of that corner.
That corner over there where RBS HQ is. I’m just sick of it, after six years, why do we keep having to come and do it?
I’m here again at RBS because yet again they’ve done something wrong, but they’re not the only ones.
Now swap RBS in those sentences for FIFA.
So what are we sick of most?
We’re sick of these large-scale industries manipulating our finances to devastating effect on global economies, causing them to collapse whilst these institutions remain intact.
We’re not even allowed to enjoy our leisure time because that too is tainted with corruption and greed through yet another global institution. The essence of our game is a 90-minute sport that is supposed to entertain us and provide us with a distraction from our daily working life.
Does football do that anymore?
We’re sick of self-regulation where despite apparent overwhelming evidence, it is liberally ignored in order to protect coveted privileges. Paul Mason describes a “cufflink tweaking” approach to dealing with banking issues where committees are set up to deal with breaches of ethical codes and potential fraudulent activities.
FIFA have not only tweaked their cufflinks with their summary of the Garcia report into corruption of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process, they have pulled up their sleeve, stretched out their arm and raised their middle digit. In essence they have asked the rhetorical question ‘what are you going to do about it?’
Michael Garcia, the author of the FIFA corruption report, was like a toothless man trying to eat a filet steak without cutlery and his hands tied behind his back. Not only are his investigations incomplete due to the lack of co-operation from some members of FIFA, it has also failed to protect the whistleblowers FIFA were using as an excuse not to publish the full report in the first place.
The sole reason not to publish the Garcia report, according the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethic Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, was that,
Publishing the report in full would actually put the FIFA Ethics Committee and FIFA itself in a very difficult situation legally. What is more, we have to respect the personal rights of the people mentioned in the report, which in the case of full publication of the report would in all likelihood not be possible.
Eckert’s qualms about protecting people didn’t extend to whistleblowers Bonita Mersiades and Phaedra Almajid, who were named in the chairman’s summary of the report saying their evidence was ‘unreliable and inaccurate.’ It is almost laughable how blatantly inconsistent they are with their messages and the truth.
So where do we go from here?
The report is unlikely to be published in its entirety and the Russian and Qatar World Cups will go ahead, after the bidding teams were both cleared of any wrongdoing. The prize of silence being golden and World Cup shaped for both of them.
The only real answer that has been offered to the problem so far is that the German FA has mooted that UEFA could pull out of FIFA. Which would mean no World Cup football for the European teams. FIFA know that is too big a risk for UEFA to take. Which leaves Sepp Blatter running FIFA unopposed, unrepentant and unscathed.
Paul Mason ended his impassioned report with the words,
All we ask, all we can ask, is that the regulators do their job proactively. That they actually get on the case, just like the security guards outside here, and the CCTV cameras there, and the City of London police, they get on the case and stop wrong doing – what’s so hard about it?
What’s so hard about it? The ultimate rhetorical question.