27 May 2015

My naked Swiss arrest and some questions for Fifa

Having had the privilege of being arrested in a Swiss hotel at dead of night myself, I can perhaps shed some light on what the Fifa suspects are now facing.

I was merely arrested for non-payment of a fine of 30 Swiss francs for going through a red light a decade earlier.

But it didn’t prevent the police from raiding the hotel’s key box, bursting into my room at four in the morning, dragging me naked from my bed and carting me to a police station in a blanket where I lingered for some seven hours in a cell before being allowed to make a phone call to summon a colleague with the money.

Above: Jon Snow interviews David Ginola on the Fifa arrests

That’s the funny side of this unfolding event in Zurich.

The questions are endless.

Why have the arrests happened now? Many of the bribery allegations date back to the early 90s.

What impact will it have on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups? Their bidding processes are the subject of another Swiss criminal investigation.

And what will both probes mean for Sepp Blatter? He is due to be re-elected as Fifa president and is not among those charged.
Why does it take America – not a traditional footballing nation – to make the final move?

But separate to the corruption investigations, a greater controversy still is growing. Lives have been lost in all this.

A report commissioned by Qatar and carried out by international law firm DLA Piper found last year that hundreds of migrant workers have died in the building of World Cup stadia for 2022.

Read more: Fifa officials held in Switzerland on corruption charges

The International Trade Union Confederation recently launched a campaign which claimed that more than 62 workers “will die for each game played during the [Qatar] 2022 tournament.”

The Qatari Labour Ministry says that it has made significant changes to improve the rights and conditions of migrant workers.

But campaign groups including Amnesty International say they’re still not good enough.

The awarding of the finals to Qatar at all is subject to widespread speculation, but the fact that nobody is being held to account for the catastrophic loss of life involved in trying to get the championships staged there is seen by campaigners and fans alike as a stain upon all who have any involvement in the administration of international football.

Let’s see how matters unfold, but no-one can be confident there is going to be either a house-cleaning at Fifa or a reckoning with the Qatari authorities, or anyone else involved in this wholesale nastiness.

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