As works of investigative football journalism go, Great Balls of Fire
must rank fairly high. And given the expanding importance and interest in the financial side of the game, it must also number among some of the most important. Under the subtext "How Big Money Is Hi-Jacking World Football", the authors have investigated the relationship between big business and those who run world football, namely the top brass at FIFA.
Using the recent battle for the presidency between Sepp Blatter and Lennart Johanssen to set the context, the authors paint a dim picture of much of the FIFA hierarchy, highlighting the corruption inherent in much of the organisation's decision-making. In doing so, the implicit question continually outlined is over the final destination of the huge sums of money generated by the modern world game. The relationship between big business and the major players at FIFA is observed as far too cosy for the overall good of the game. The central figures implicated by the authors are Joao Havelange, the recently retired autocratic ex-President of FIFA, and Sepp Blatter, his successor and ex-FIFA Secretary. Under their leadership, it is alleged, FIFA has become a body rife with the abuse of privilege and patronage. And that is to say nothing of the reported relationships with external bodies such as Adidas and Coca-Cola.
As all keen watchers of modern football are aware, there's much going on behind the scenes which many would wish to remain behind a veil of secrecy. For anyone who wishes to peek behind that curtain at the very highest level, this excellent piece of journalism is a superb place to start. --Trevor Crowe