Gary Littman


Garry Littman is the owner and director of The Language House in Geneva which organises English language training for professional people, companies and students. He was a radio and newspaper journalist in his native Australia and ran a restaurant in Kathmandu in his younger days. He is an English language trainer and an aficionado of pétanque.

It’s a scandal, a crisis, a storm… no it’s a gate: FIFAgate

The FIFA scandal, and its growing number of red-carded players in expensive suits, is now well and truly a ‘gate’; FIFAgate.

With the resignation of president Sepp Blatter, FIFA has earnt its ‘gate’, the suffix for a serious scandal in which powerful men fall from great heights.

(Footygate also has a good ring to it. Blattergate sounds too much like Splattergate which sounds too much like zombies playing football with chainsaws.)

The original and most famous ‘gate’ was Watergate which led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon, known as Tricky Dicky, and also led to the bizarre and misguided belief that journalists were handsome ethical folk (Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman) who worked for the good of people-kind.

Why was it called Watergate? Because a seemingly random robbery in an ugly sprawling office complex called Watergate in Washington DC was traced all the way back up the political ladder to the president. Here’s a three minute summary.

Presidents, sex, and lots of dough make fine ingredients for a spicy ‘gate’.

Zippergate and Monicagate were some of the many names for the scandal that engulfed President Bill ‘I did not have sex with that woman’ Clinton. Other ‘gates’ of renown include Nipplegate which put Youtube on the map and introduced the world to the term: wardrobe malfunction.  Then there was Camillagate, the tampon titillations of a Prince, and Weinergate which featured a US politician called Weiner who liked sending women pictures of his weiner (slang for penis). Honestly, you couldn't make it up.

So when does a scandal magically transform into a ‘gate’? It’s probably a combination of the following:

  1. When a scandal solidifies in the public consciousness, which means it is force fed to us across all media platforms incessantly, hour after hour, update after update, tweet after tweet, day after day.
  2. When it involves a president and/or a sexual misdemeanour and/or a lot of money
  3. When a president is forced to resign
  4. When journalists run out of idioms and analogies associated with extreme weather conditions and war.

It’s the last point, number 4, where the truth probably lies.

Let's start with the extreme weather. If you wish to read on please put on your wet weather gear.

Storm clouds have been gathering around FIFA for some years. But before you could say fine and sunny with a top temperature of 25 the FBI charges unleased a storm. FIFA was engulfed and embroiled in a corruption storm. Some called it a mafia storm. Where was Mr Blatter? He was in the eye of the storm in the morning, in the eye of the cyclone at lunchtime and in the eye of the hurricane by the time he was tucking himself into bed.

Could the wily old Swiss goat ride out the storm or weather the storm. He was odds on to survive the storm which he did – he rode out the storm for a few days, won the election and promised an impossible double act: to guide FIFA through this storm and, at the same time, distance himself from the storm.

Blatter was battered but not beaten. And then the news yesterday. Splattered some said. (Step down, he said).

When it's not a storm it's a war. It’s the FIFA wars. The battle for FIFA.

Blatter was the embattled leader. FIFA is under attack from all sides. The US could smell blood. Much of the world media was baying for the Blatter’s blood. Bombshells are raining down non-stop on FIFA. It’s a bombshell case with bombshell arrests. Was Blatter unsinkable? Even the FIFA meeting room was referred to as the famous war room from the Stanley Kubrick film Dr Strangelove. Africa was the stronghold for a man under siege. Blatter’s supporters cried it was an American imperialist war.

The knives were out or they were being sharpened. FIFA and Blatter were wounded and haemorrhaging.

Would he throw in the towel? And then the bribery investigation claimed its biggest scalp.

Blatter on a platter. The carnage continues. Football is a Messi business.

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