Russians from Putin on down are freaking out about the possibility that the FIFA corruption scandal will cause the 2018 World Cup to be wrested from them. But never fear. The head of Russia’s organizing committee, Alexei Sorokin, claims that the Russian bid was “clean”:
The head of the organising committee for the Russia 2018 World Cup has insisted that the bid was clean, transparent and “done in accordance with all the practices that are in place in Fifa”.
Well that’s sort of the problem, Alexei. A “clean and transparent bid done in accordance with all the practices that are in place in Fifa” is an oxymoron. The practices in place in Fifa are dirty and opaque.
And of course, it was precisely because its bid was so clean, transparent, etc., that Russia destroyed the computers its committee had utilized:
But it was the lack of evidence provided by the bid team which was of most concern, according to the author of the summary, Fifa’s head judge, Hans-Joachim Eckert.
He wrote: “The Russia 2018 bid committee made only a limited number of documents available for review, which was explained by the fact that the computers used at the time by the Russia bid committee had been leased and returned to their owner after the bidding process.
“The owner has confirmed the computers were destroyed in the meantime. The bid committee also attempted to obtain access to the Gmail accounts used during the bidding process from Google USA. However, the Russia bid committee confirmed Google USA had not responded to the request.”
The head of Russia’s 2018 organising committee, Alexey Sorokin, told Sky Sports News: “We rented the equipment, we had to give it back, then it went back – we don’t even know where it went – to some sports schools, so quite naturally other people used it.
“Whatever we could supply, everything we could supply to the investigation we did. But we have to bear in mind that four years have passed since then, so some of the information we could just forget, naturally.”
Sorokin’s response there is priceless, isn’t it? It reminds me of the punchline to Steve Martin’s How to Make a Million Dollars and Not Pay Taxes bit. 1. Make $1 million. 2. Don’t pay taxes. 3. When the IRS confronts you, say (theatrically) “I forgot.” Presumably the Russians will react to an indictment or a revocation of the WC with “well excuuuuse me!”
Perhaps the Russians destroyed the computers because definitive documentation of their clean, transparent and honest dealings would ruin their reputations.
No doubt the Russians are hoping that others who sent or received emails from them were as solicitous in their document non-retention policy as Russia.
What’s more, with all the arrests and indictments, those involved are threatening to talk. Most notably so far, Trinidad’s Jack Warner threatens to unleash “an avalanche of secrets” implicating Blatter.
I am far less interested in learning about the payees of the bribes, than the payers. Eventually someone, or someone’s computers, will blab. And that’s what has Putin (and Russians generally) losing it.