BOOK REVIEW - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF FIFA : David Conn

I’ve just finished The Fall of the House of FIFA and can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who needs a complete commentary of the state of the Federation over the last half century (albeit more detailed since the start of the 21st Century). David is a thoughtful journalist who has aggregated the publicly reported and documented chronology in an interesting and easy to digest way.

I was particularly impressed with the balanced reporting he afforded Blatter (interview in final chapter so won’t do plot spoiling). To that extent, the cover picture was a cheap shot over which I’m sure the author had no control.

As with all outsiders, he makes a comparison to his own childhood memories of World Cups in the 70s that included some of the contemporary protagonists, a love of football from an age of innocence that juxtaposes with the descent into decadence and corruption of those role models.

Horst Dassler doesn’t come out of this very well, but then any interview with Patrick Nally is likely to lean in that direction. Dassler didn’t invent bribery in sports but he lit the fire at the federative level in what would become intergenerational abuse of power.

If I can offer any criticism, it’s that it relies on the English language reporting quite heavily for reference and there is a small industry of FIFA-bashers that all work from roughly the same geography and the same agenda. Thomas Kistner of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung has been a particularly sharp thorn in the side of FIFA over the years as a for instance and has landed many stingers on Messrs Radmann and Abold as well.

Infantino is not the total reformer, he is the guy that comes before the great reformation but nobody can predict when this will happen and who will lead it so for now he's in charge and he's got to make the best of what he has. Turkeys and Christmas comparisons to be added here! As Conn points out, history will not be kind to Havelange or Blatter for some good reasons. There are many people who should be grateful to them (and even Dassler) for what they achieved in making Football the mass employer and maker of dreams that it is today. I think Conn leaves the door open to future writers and for that this book is to be commended.

As for ISL … you had to be there, man.