FIFA's congress, which opens in Sydney on Thursday, "will make North Korea's politburo look like a hothouse of democratic debate and dissent," reports investigative journalist Andrew Jennings. Furthermore, one crucial member will be missing -- Lord Sebastian Coe, the chairman of FIFA's Ethics Committee. "I can't see his name on the guest list," writes Jennings, whom FIFA has refused to credential for the meeting. "With scandal again engulfing FIFA, shouldn't Seb should be up on the podium reporting on his investigations?"
Now would be a pertinent time for Coe to take the opportunity to update the governing body on a number of pressing FIFA matters. For example, there's the current court case in Switzerland concerning the millions of dollars in alleged bribes paid to sports officials, some of them allegedly with FIFA, by the bankrupt sports marketing agency ISL, which bought the TV rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. There's also the question of why former FIFA general secretary Urs Linsi was paid off last year with eight years' salary -- around $8 million. "He was only appointed in December 2002," says Jennings. "Has he signed a gagging clause?"
There was also the MasterCard case, where FIFA paid $90 million to settle a dispute in a New York Federal court with its former sponsor, and where the judge "rejected as fabricated" the testimony of Concacaf general secretary Chuck Blazer regarding a 2006 FIFA Marketing & TV AG Board meeting. "Lord Coe will surely want to know, was it ethical to waste so much FIFA cash?" Unfortunately, he will not attend the FIFA congress. "Instead he'll be guest speaker at a Salvation Army dinner in Kingston, Jamaica."