The Special One became the Silent One as UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino paraded Jose Mourinho as one of his celebrity guests at Wembley when unveiling his 90-day plan for the FIFA presidency if he is elected on February 26.
Mourinho, who was mobbed by photographers, bizarrely did not say a word during the event, but merely sat listening to Infantino alongside other invited football stars including former England manager Fabio Capello, Roberto Carlos, Clarence Seedorf and Luis Figo, who was also endorsed by Mourinho when he stood at the last FIFA election.
Afterwards, as Mourinho strode quickly away from Wembley, he was asked why he didn’t speak. He replied: ‘I had nothing to say,’ thus raising the question why Infantino and his advisers chose to make the event an unnecessary celebrity-fest, with footballers such as Steve McManaman and Dwight Yorke also wishing Gianni good luck via video.
Infantino, a smooth operator who is making significant inroads into Sheik Salman’s lead in their two-horse race, claimed there are no deals in place for a FIFA president/secretary general carve-up between them, which has always looked the most likely outcome.
Wembley was chosen as the venue for Infantino’s main campaign event, despite the FA having yet to declare their support. But after meeting FA chairman Greg Dyke earlier in the day, Infantino said: ‘I’m pretty confident about England, but I fully respect their procedure.’
He wasn’t prepared to attack disgraced president Sepp Blatter, saying: ‘I respect the work he’s done on football development, but he probably should have stepped down a bit earlier.’
Infantino also revealed that a UEFA Congress cost £750,000 to stage, compared to a staggering £23m for the FIFA equivalent.
And when questioned on UEFA’s attempts to counter match-fixing, Infantino claimed: ‘No organisation in the world has a better track record.’ He added that he has faced death threats on this issue and that his children have required police escorts to school.
BT Sport made no effort to cover transfer deadline day on screen yesterday, which hardly suggests they can mount a sustained challenge to Sky Sports’ dominance of the sports subscription TV market. BT management are pouring resources into their alternative to Sky One, which won’t help them develop their sports channels.
Louis van Gaal said Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward buys him an expensive bottle of wine every time they beat a top-six club.
Woodward can well afford to buy LVG the odd Petrus from Pomerol or a Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley – Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke’s wine label – as he earns around £3m a year as the Premier League’s best paid club administrator. United no longer reveal the top paid director as accounts are lodged in the USA.