I had to say I was surprised that the BBC panorama team had chosen this exact moment to publish their findings about corruption within the FIFA organisation. We are a mere 48 hours away from the 2018 World Cup decision. They could have revealed the story last month, or in one month’s time. Enough to make you think that the whole business has been engineered to thwart England’s chances of hosting the World Cup in 2018 — and if not then what other motive from intelligent people like the BBC panorama editorial team?
Whistleblowing may be all the rage at the moment, but this Panorama exposé was dividing opinion long before it aired on Monday night.
Did the programme actually present new evidence, or was it just a facetious re-hash of existing information timed to damage England’s chances of hosting the 2018 World Cup?
In the opening moments, Jeremy Vine admitted that allegations of bribery within the organisation were nothing new, but he promised that the fearless Andrew Jennings had damning new evidence against Fifa.
And he had indeed obtained a document that apparently listed almost two hundred secret payments made in the 1990s by a sports marketing company called International Sports and Leisure (ISL) to Fifa.
One of the Fifa officials named was Paraguayan Nicolas Leoz – but as Jennings conceded, he has already been exposed as having accepted two previous bribes, so this was not exactly brand new information.
Fellow Fifa bosses Issa Hayatou and Ricardo Teixeira also came under fire, but it was Vice-President Jack Warner who was presented as the real villain, accused of involvement in the re-sale of World Cup tickets on the black market.
Jennings ran around the world, haranguing the accused and getting nothing but vitriol in return. Warner even called Jennings ‘garbage’ and expressed his desire to spit on the journalist in a stunning display of over-defensiveness.
However, since Jennings mentioned that he had already uncovered Warner’s underhand activity following the 2006 World Cup, once again the allegations hardly constitute new information.
Compelling evidence it may have been, but the revelations simply weren’t revelatory enough to warrant Jennings’ smugness at having televised them.
So, will Fifa prove its annoyance at this English journalist and deny his countrymen victory in three days’ time?
The truth is, the significance of this Panorama programme may not yet be apparent.