Jimmy Pays Price For Lifting The Lid
MANY closed industries have their shady inner workings that are dubious at best and illegal or unethical at worst and it is the job of the authorities to root them out without fear or favour.
Bent coppers, dodgy dealers in the city or salemen who fiddle the invoices, all protected by the ignorance of lay-people in how their world works, by a lack of structural transparancy and a culture of silence from colleagues who really don't want to rock the gravy boat. There are many people with a lot to lose if the bright light of truth shines in the murkier reaches of their universe.
Football is much the same. The bungs, the agents inflating transfer fees, the cash bonuses sloshing around off shore non-taxable accounts... none can be dealt with unless brave people are ready to break the omerta that keeps the secret mechanics of the game in the dark.
So why are the FA planning to punish a whistleblower?
FA disciplinary chiefs have charged Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink with improper conduct and/or bringing the game into disrepute for his claims that Chelsea players were given a big cash bonus after the 2004 Champions League win over Arsenal.
The former Boro hitman revealed the alleged payments - not covered in Chelsea contracts lodged with the FA so illegal by the game's rules, and also of considerable interest to the taxman - in his honest trumpet blowing biography 'Jimmy' earlier this year. After strenuous denials by Chelsea a Premier League inquiry found no evidence to support the claims.
Now Jimmy has now been charged with bringing the game into dispute - which is as crazy a move as is possible for an organisation pledged to cleaning up the game. Football is a closed community. The only way the dodgy bits can ever be revealed is by insiders breaking ranks.
But the FA have sent a strong signal to potential whistleblowers here: if you make allegations that we can't prove then YOU will be punished. That is hardly going to give players or managers or officials who may want to lift the lid the confidence that the FA will support them, investigate their claims fully in a forensic fashion without any retribution should fears prove to be unfounded or impossible to verify. Instead it will encourage would be whistleblowers to keep schtum.
The problem that this has revealed more than anything is the FA's inability to police the clubs finances. It would seem strange that Jimmy would make up a big bonus and let's be honest, Roman would probably find that kind of cash down the back of the sofa. Chelsea say no bonus was paid - but they would say that wouldn't they?
Crucially the FA were left to ask Chelsea and rely on their word. They have no power to investigate the finances of a member club. Given the number of allegations of transfer irregularities, commissions and bungs that have dogged the game in recent years it is of some concern that the authorities have no way of monitoring financial activity.
That, along with a fit and proper person test that prevents asset strippers and conmen wheedling their way into club boardrooms, is what should be on their agenda now, not punishing a player who has pointed to a potential problem.