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Entertaining and informed look at FIFA's transgressions,
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This review is from: Foul!: The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals (Paperback)
The most recent work of investigative journalist Andrew Jennings sees him return to his role of detailing the misdemeanours, and attempting to tackle the culprits, of some of Sport's most corrupt and self-serving activities at the highest level of authority. In a similar vein to his previous 'The Great Olympic Swindle', Jennings attempts with gusto to give the reader the background of FIFA, from its earliest days as a largely practical authority for organizing international football, to its current status as an overblown corporation filled with major figures working against each other, copious bribes being doled out to authorities within the game, and an incredible nepotism in positions being given within FIFA - all topics in which Jennings informs the reader with a strong backlogue of facts and statistics. Indeed, it's hard to imagine a more detailed dossier on the underhanded activities within an institution which has gone the same way as Jennings' previous subject, the IOC (International Olympic Committee).
The factual basis of the work is highly impressive and hard to fault, with Jennings clearly having dug deep within the company for many of the facts. The style of the book, however, is more open to criticism, though it will appeal to some. Jenning's narrative flow is reminiscent of a popular crime thriller, with blockbuster openings, and an abundance of descriptions of flash operators, stylish locations and cosy Swiss offices; along with the repeated image of the time bomb ticking over a suspicious payment received at FIFA. The style makes the book easy reading, but tends to create a little too much glossiness and unnecessary bulk for a tale which is hugely entertaining and often shocking, on its own merits. Equally, though there is no doubt of the corruption within FIFA, Jennings' character assassination of Blatter, which looks suspiciously at even his more acceptable decisions, and paints his battle for FIFA presidency against the admittedly likeable Lennart Johannson as a battle of Good vs. Evil, simplifies the hugely complex issues of both FIFA, and of Blatter himself. For any fan of football, or for those interested in business corruption in general, this is a superb read, but one that, a little simplified in its outlook, and a little over-stylised in its technique, is not without its few flaws.