When I learnt that David Conn, one of the greatest football writers of all time, was about to publish a book about FIFA and their fall from grace, I was not particularly enthused. This is not a subject I’ve ever been fond of. I’m not sure why. Maybe because nowadays I think international football is overrated, I think it’s for fans who like football every two or, worse, four years. Maybe because I’ve never been a big fan of my national team, not understanding how it was possible to cheer those same players you loathed just weeks or days before only because they were wearing a different shirt. Or maybe because I found the whole saga very boring. Being Italian you grow up listening to corruption scandals in every part of public life and even when the latest big match fixing shame rocked Italian football, those who were accused did not try to deny, they just defended themselves by saying “it was common practice”. The concept that if everyone is involved in a illegal activity does not make it automatically legal was shocking news to someone. Or because, finally, the books I had read so far around this same topic did not say much. They promised to deliver truths but they stopped at suspicions or half truths. Most of the questions they asked were left hanging in the air by the time you reached the index and acknowledgments at the end of their pages.
Various journalists and reporters spent their lives accusing every member of FIFA, UEFA, CONMEBOL, CONCACAF etc but ultimately could not prove anything serious until recently.
What David Conn has done, once again, is telling the story as it is. He made it clear for everyone. He starts and finishes telling the reader exactly what happened with all the documents to back up whatever he is writing. Despite the subject, I sped through the pages quite quickly and I could feel the same anger he was feeling. Or more than anger probably the astonishment, the disappointment and ultimately the sadness when realizing the people who should look after this beautiful sport were actually taking advantage of it.
And once again, I closed the book asking how it was possible that Mr Conn once again struck all the right chords and I suddenly realize why. Before a journalist and a writer, David is a true football fan.
Only those who love football so much can communicate this well.