Monday 18 December 2017

€5m FIFA money sticks in Ruud Gullit's gullet

Carlsberg, official beer of the Premier League, brought footballing icon, Ruud Gullit, to Dublin along with the Premier League trophy yesterday. Pics: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Carlsberg, official beer of the Premier League, brought footballing icon, Ruud Gullit, to Dublin along with the Premier League trophy yesterday. Pics: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

As a venerable member of football's hall of fame who moves in exalted circles, Ruud Gullit has learned the ways of the politician but he's Dutch so occasionally, he can't help himself but have an opinion.

He dodged most of the bullets which came his way when he turned up in Dublin as one of Carlsberg's promotional footsoldiers.

Weighty topics like Chelsea, Louis van Gaal and FIFA were dismissed breezily and just one item raised his response above the phlegmatic.

The €5m dear old Sepp handed the FAI to make them go away after the Thierry Henry incident didn't go down well in the Gullit household.

"I'm not so mad about FIFA. I'm mad about Ireland, the federation," said Gullit. "What the hell is that? €5m and you say, it's okay. That's a surprise."

Gullit is well-travelled down the pathways Blatter and his pals roll. They use men like him to add credibility and he's one of the people UEFA and FIFA like to wheel out for draw ceremonies.

He's still working too and actively looking for the right job in management to come along so he can't make too much noise.


He was president of the joint Holand/Belgium bid for the 2018 World Cup but his only real problem with the process which is currently being investigated by everyone from the FBI to the Swiss police was that FIFA didn't explain that they had already decided to break new ground before they invited interest parties to submit.

"If we knew they had already decided that the World Cup would go to a new territory, then we would never have made a bid," he said.

Politics and football, unfortunately, mix very well indeed for the politicians even if almost everyone else perceives the upper echelons of the game as vastly corrupt.

"Hey FIFA do many, many good things too. Some countries? They would be nothing without FIFA," said Gullit, not exactly defending to world's most dysfunctional sports organisation but adding some balance of his own.

So we moved on to LVG. When he was asked about Louis van Gaal's work at Old Trafford, Gullit made it clear that trophies and nothing less will define his compatriot.

"It's going to be a tough season and I think the honeymoon period is over. He has to get something out of the season. The crowds want trophies as they are used to it and therefore he needs to provide them with something, a trophy. He's done it before. Every time it is a new challenge," he said.

A distinct note of chill was detectable when we moved onto his old club Chelsea. More than once, he stressed that Roberto di Matteo put Stamford Bridge on the world football map and not the current manager which hinted at a certain distaste for José Mourinho.

"If you want to have international acceptance, you need to win the Champions League. You can win whatever you like but if you don't win the Champions League, you're not going to be able to get mentioned in the big teams," he said.


"When you talk about big clubs, it is always, whatever happened with Liverpool, even though they have bad seasons, they are a big club because they win five Champions League. I remember in my era, Barcelona were a big team but not recognised internationally because they hadn't won the Champions League.

"I think with Chelsea there is always something going on, I think they had a wonderful season last year but I still think the main thing they want to do is win the Champions League."

That is the main focus for Chelsea this year, I think they are still the team to beat and everybody tries enormous effort to beat them, Manchester City try to do their best, Liverpool have a new squad again.

"Arsenal had a bad start but when the Premier League goes on, they will find their form. If Man United can do it, I don't know, there is enormous pressure on them," he said.

Gullit believes that the latest Mourinho media storm surrounding his medical team is just a symptom of something hidden under the surface.

"I think with Chelsea there is always something going on. We don't know what happened already previously, if it's something internal," he insists.

"I think it's not this, this was not the reason. I think something happened already previously."

Gullit believes that there is a simple enough answer for Mourino's evident frustration and it's not because he believes he needs more players.

"You want to start well, you want to start the Premier League well, it's good for morale and they didn't start well, did they?" said Gullit with a shrug of his shoulders.

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