By Giles Dexter
21st Century Wire
Dec 6, 2010
While England’s elite have long since accepted the pre-eminent days of Victorian times or even the middle of the last century are long past, they don’t tolerate being outmaneuvered, humiliated and lied to as Prince William and David Cameron were last week in Switzerland, where a combination of Russian Grand Master-style chess wizardry and duplicity from FIFA’s blazer brigade resulted in such complete humiliation that exacting revenge was the only option.
In a scene straight from a James Bond film, enter blonde Russian Katia Zatuliveter, who just happens to work for a British Member of Parliament that sits on the UK’s Defense Select Committee. Mike Hancock, Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South and a member of the junior governing party, is alleged to be the victim of a ‘honeytrap’, is said to be naively ensnared by the alluring Mata-Hari. And so without the slightest shred of evidence she has ever had access to information that cannot be gleaned from a simple Google search, or that she has any connection with Moscow’s security services, she is detained by MI5, held under questioning. Why she has been singled out only a few of days after England’s failure to win the right to host the 2018 World Cup, becomes clearer when wider diplomatic tit-for-tat and the depth of British anger and Royal frustration at events in Zurich last week is understood.
Seven members of the FIFA Executive Committee – Trinidad’s Jack Warner, America’s Chuck Blazer, Guatemala’s Rafael Salguero, South Korea’s Chung Mong-Joon, Jacob Anouma of the Ivory coast, Turkey’s Erzik and Lefkaritis all shook his hand and looked the future King in the eye promising to deliver a vote for England’s 2018 World Cup bid. FIFA Vice President Warner, a member of Her Majesty’s Commonwealth, put his arm around the Prince’s shoulder and assured him: ‘You have my vote.’ He also promised William and fellow Old Etonian British Prime Minister David Cameron to bring two more votes with him. Polling only 2 votes from the 22 FIFA executive delegates and elimination at the first hurdle wasn’t defeat for England, it was total humiliation.
Sparks fly: England shock and frustration over their failed World Cup bid
Only bare faced lies explain Downing Street’s enormous anger at FIFA and why Prince William was reported to be ‘furious’ at the betrayal in Zurich, but not the whole story of how ‘Grand Master’ Vladimir Putin drew them into a classic check mate.
The Prince and the Prime Minister, alongside celebrated British and world sports icon David Beckham, had spent a frantic 48 hours bending the knee to delegates to bring the 2018 World Cup back to it historic home in Britain. Mr Cameron said he met England’s future King coming out of one meeting with one of the five FIFA execs and asked how it had gone. The Prime Minister explained: ‘He said it had gone really, really well. I said: “Gosh, how did you do it? What did you offer him, an invitation to the wedding?” The good humoured Prince replied, “Prime Minister, I went so far, I think I offered to marry him!”
In fact, many believe that the England delegation were wasting their time even boarding the plane to Zurich. Sources reported that lobbyists on behalf of Russia, including the Swiss-based international sports rights firm Sportfive, had worked into the early hours to convince certain committee members to support the Russian bid, while others claim it was all wrapped up long before the official bids were submitted. Fresh allegations emerging from a former FIFA employee that votes on the key committee were for sale months ago for $1.5m.
And so, as a “visibly furious” David Cameron flew out of Zurich, he was passed on the tarmac- by a jubilant Vladimir Putin. The Russian Prime Minister had played a brilliant hand. Staying away from Zurich before the vote, Putin curried favour with Blatter and his sty by attacking the recent Sunday Times and BBC Panorama’s exposés of FIFA bribery and corruption. “We have unfortunately witnessed a campaign against members of the FIFA executive – filth and compromising material has been poured over them,” he told ministers in Moscow, the boss of Wikileaks alleged mafia state naturally opting for the policy of Omertà, “I see this as unscrupulous competition ahead of the vote.” In sharp contrast to the apparent scraping and bowing of Britain’s top level delegation, Putin bluffed superbly stating beforehand, “I would love to represent our entry in person. However, under these circumstances, I think it would be best not to go out of respect for the members of the FIFA executive committee, so that they can make their decision in peace and without any outside pressure.”
When FIFA Chairman Sepp Blatter held aloft the piece of paper proclaiming the winner, the check mate was confirmed. Cue a triumphant Tsar, his dignity in tact, arriving for a valedictory Press conference alongside the British bête-noir Chairman Blatter who announced that he was “honoured” football’s world governing body had selected the bid. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you,” he crowed. “We are honoured to win in this tough and fair fight.” By now the sound of wretching stretched up and down Whitehall. “Each bid is very special and significant. You can take my word for it, the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be up to the highest standards.” He also refuted suggestions England had been “cheated” out of holding the World Cup. “No, I don’t think (so),” he said, careful to avoid a hint of irony in his voice.
The Crown’s retaliation
Whether MI5, servants to the Crown, took their orders from Buckingham Palace or from Downing Street, or whether it was a joint decision, is not certain yet. It’s also possible they acted independently, needing no instruction that something needed to be done. While pride could not immediately be restored, they could at least stoke the embers of the cold war and nab a so called “spy”, and who better than a blonde female who works for alleged womanising British Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock.
The MP’s assistant was detained this past weekend by M15 security services on grounds relating to national security. Indeed, she may be Russian, but as yet no evidence has been presented that she has had any contact with Russian intelligence. In the “great game” of diplomacy it matters not. It’s highly unlikely however, she would have extraordinary access to anything not already available from normal public sources, including her alleged report on the scope and whereabouts of the UK’s nuclear arsenal.
In a conversation with the UK’s Daily Mail, the Portsmouth South MP, whose constituency is home to a Royal Navy base, said Miss Zatuliveter passed a compulsory two month security check. “Katia came with references and was the best person for the job. She was security checked and it took about two months for her House of Commons’ pass to come through.” Hancock added, “’The Russians may pose a threat to national security but if you believe what the security services tell you, everybody could pose a threat these days.”
All that matters is that she is Russian, she works in the House of Commons for a Russia-friendly MP nobody has ever heard of, and that her detention sends a clear message to the Kremlin. “We don’t like what happened in Switzerland last week. We don’t like it at all!”
And with the best technical bid on the table, who can blame them? Similar problems on the pitch too, great technique, trouble scoring.
Watch this space for further developments on this story.
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December 6, 2010 By 338 Comments