“Trust me, it’s the truth – Sepp Blatter was behind the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Blatter had got word that Osama was planning to stand against him in FIFA’s presidential elections. He feared that, as Bin Laden was widely regarded as being less corrupt and autocratic than the existing FIFA regime, there was a good chance he’d win the contest. It’s rumoured that he already had the English FA’s vote in the bag in return for a promise of no suicide bombings at Premiership football grounds.” This astonishing revelation – set to rock world football’s governing body to its foundations – was relayed to me by a shadowy figure known only as ‘Deep Bladder’. Summoned via Twitter to a 3 am meeting on the lowest level of an underground car park in Staines, I found myself confronted by a raincoat-clad, trilby hatted individual, lurking behind a pillar in the car park’s murky depths.
Whilst his revelation was certainly sensational, a question kept nagging at me: why would the US government collude with FIFA, the governing body of what is, effectively, a minority sport in the US? “Isn’t it obvious? Blatter actually hates football! Surely his conduct as FIFA president for the past thirteen years proved that?” rasped the half-hidden figure, as it dragged on a cigarette. “The truth is that he’s in the pay of the NFL – the plan is to completely discredit football as a global sport, paving the way for American Football to replace it in the world’s affections. So, Osama had to go – he was threatening to clean up FIFA. Under his regime, anyone suspected of bribery would have been stoned to death in the centre circle before the kick-off of a World Cup qualifier.” Tempting though this bizarre conspiracy seemed, I still couldn’t quite swallow it, and pressed my mysterious friend for further explanations – why American Football, and not, say, baseball? And exactly how was Blatter planning to completely destroy world football’s reputation in just four years, when decades of bribery allegations, drug and alcohol abuse by players, violent hooliganism by fans and financial mismanagement by club owners hadn’t blunted the public’s appetite for the ‘beautiful game’?
“The NFL has been unsuccessfully trying to expand its influence beyond the US for decades, with no success. They just can’t understand why they haven’t been successful – they’ve got the perfect televised sport, all that halting play allowing plenty of scope for inserting commercials without disrupting the flow of the game. Unlike soccer, baseball or cricket,” wheezed ‘Deep Bladder’. “Why do you think so many US businessmen are buying Premiership clubs? They’re positioning themselves for the completion of Blatter’s masterplan – once soccer is dead Anfield, Old Trafford and the like will be perfect venues for the new NFL franchises they’re planning!” As for Blatter’s plan, my informant claimed that all the recent footballing scandals had been created by the FIFA President. “Trust me, it will just get worse over the next four years: gay dressing room orgies, bestiality, human sacrifices to giant golden effigies of Brian Clough – they’ll all be hitting the headlines.” he claimed. “He’s even plotting to have a ‘corruption option’ illicitly installed in those football manager computer games! Unscrupulous players will be able to bribe the opposing players and match officials into throwing matches!”
So ended my brief, but informative, meeting with ‘Deep Bladder’. But before going further, perhaps I should explain how I, John Pilchard, chief investigative reporter for The Sleaze came to be in a cold and damp car park, discussing an alleged conspiracy to destroy world football in the early hours of the morning. The fact was that I hadn’t been looking to uncover another FIFA scandal, I’d simply been trying to uncover a conspiracy – an old fashioned type of conspiracy filed with anonymous sources, cryptic clues and obscure motivations. I had been inspired by a recent article in Practical Conspiracy Digest, in which the editor, Trevor Groper, complained that the people behind today’s conspiracies just weren’t putting the effort into their work that they used to. “Just take this business with the former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, for instance,” he told me when I contacted him. “It’s just so bloody transparent that his arrest for sexual assault is part of a conspiracy, and all too clear who the probable conspirators are. It’s just too obvious – he looks set to be the Socialist’s candidate for the Presidential elections, with polls indicating that he would beat incumbent conservative President Sarkozy, when, out of the blue, he finds himself accused of serious sexual offences. And if it wasn’t Sarkozy, then it’s a conspiracy by evil international financiers and bankers, unhappy that, in his role as IMF chief, Strauss-Kahn has been too lenient with the Greeks. There’s just no subtlety to it all.”
But was it still possible to come across a traditional conspiracy, I asked him. “The problem is that with the rise of modern mass media and the internet, they’ve become lazy – it’s just too easy to disseminate even the craziest stories with little or no effort,” Groper replied. “I suppose that if there are any old school conspirators out there who prefer to spread their stuff personally, via the press, Facebook or Twitter are the places to find them.” Hence my open call on Twitter, via #conspiracynutters, which yielded ‘Deep Bladder’. But what to make of his conspiracy? It was certainly convoluted, bringing together such unlikely elements as soccer, terrorism and the NFL, but could any of it be verified? There was nothing for it but to try another avenue: Facebook. To my surprise, one of the conspiracy groups there came up trumps, with an individual claiming to be involved in the UK’s intelligence community agreeing to meet me in order to discuss the government’s response to the conspiracy. “Her Majesty’s government has suspected Sepp Blatter of being an evil super villain for some time now,” my dinner-jacketed contact revealed during a mid-afternoon meeting in a Reading branch of Burger King. “The fact that his clearly criminal organisation is based in Switzerland – a favourite haven of Nazis and international criminal geniuses – was a big clue. We have it on very good authority that, if Blatter wins another term, he’s planning on relocating FIFA to an extinct volcano in Japan.”
After being asked by a waitress to put out his Turkish cigarette, the undercover man let slip that the humiliation of Premier David Cameron when, despite his personal support, England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup was snubbed, sealed Blatter’s fate. “Look, Dave’s a fellow old Etonian, and ‘The Service’ doesn’t like to see one of its own treated that way,” he continued, adjusting his mirrored sunglasses. “The revelation that Blatter has been sanctioning assassinations himself has given us the perfect justification for authorising a ‘Red Card’. Rest assured, we’ve put our best man on the job. You can expect to see Blatter ‘ruled offside’ on a permanent basis – just as soon as we’ve got enough air miles for his ticket, that is.” Pausing only to buy another milkshake, the contact then left. So, what to make of this strange conspiracy I’ve apparently uncovered? Does it have any substance? The absence of balaclava-clad special forces soldiers descending on ropes into the conference hall hosting FIFA’s presidential elections, tossing stun grenades into the audience and gunning down Blatter and his cronies seems to indicate that it hasn’t. But then again, maybe he’s bought them off as well?