Many musicians are passionate about football. Some are quite good players. Two have drifted dangerously close to that international cesspit of iniquity known as Fifa.
Placido Domingo has a long-standing involvement with Fifa and its retiring president Sepp Blatter. He has boasted of attending almost every World Cup since 1970 – you only do that if you are on an elite Fifa list. In June 2011 he was invited by Blatter, after a corruption scandal, to join a clean-up committee. The following month Domingo declared: ‘I would love to be more involved in FIFA.’
Valery Gergiev was in the Russian group that leaped to its feet when Blatter awarded their country the 2018 World Cup. Before that, he appears to have cultivated a friendship with the Fifa bribetaker-turned-whistleblower Chuck Blazer, who pictures them together at dinner on his website. Blazer later congratulated Gergiev on being a flag-carrier at the Sochi Olympics.
The gregarious Blazer claims many friends, Nelson Mandela among them. There is no reason to suspect that Gergiev did anything wrong by having dinner with such a friendly fellow, and Domingo was surely given his World Cup final tickets with no strings attached. The musicians had no reason to be aware of the depths of Fifa’s corruption.
However, a man is known by his friends. Neither Domingo nor Gergiev will be bragging much today of their privileged access to the Fifa elite.