FIFA’s dirty little secrets

We have recently had the scandal of the corruption and bribery at the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in Delhi. Now that the games are over the police and other investigative agencies in India are digging deep, heads have rolled and prosecutions are imminent.

But the greed and corruption that was on display at the Commonwealth games is  “peanuts” and pales into insignificance in relation to the amounts dealt with by corrupt FIFA officials when handling the selection of countries to host the World cup, the TV and advertising rights and the black market sale of tickets. In fact it seems as if the black market is itself controlled by FIFA officials. A BBC Panorama program to be broadcast later this week and before Thursday’s vote by FIFA’s executive committee to decide who will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups reveals that at least three FIFA officials took bribes between 1989 and 1999. All three are due to vote on Thursday and since they have had no criticism since then and are still in office, it is highly probably that they have all continued their practices for Thursday’s vote.

With the World Cup as big as it is , the amounts involved are in the billions. FIFA is beginning to stink.

Fifa executives Ricardo Teixeira (l), Issa Hayatou and Nicolas Leoz (r)

Fifa executives Ricardo Teixeira (l), Issa Hayatou and Nicolas Leoz (r): image BBC/ Getty

The BBC reports:

Three senior Fifa officials who will vote on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids took bribes in the 1990s, according to the BBC’s Panorama. Nicolas Leoz, Issa Hayatou and Ricardo Teixeira took the money from a sport marketing firm awarded lucrative World Cup rights, the programme alleges.

The alleged bribes are included in a confidential document listing 175 payments totalling about $100m (£64m). The three men did not respond to Panorama’s allegations. Fifa, world football’s governing body, also declined interview requests to address the allegations.

Panorama, to be broadcast later, also reports on evidence of a fourth senior Fifa executive’s continued involvement in the resale of World Cup tickets to touts. The BBC has received criticism over the timing of the programme, which comes ahead of Thursday’s vote by Fifa’s executive committee on who will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals. England is competing with Russia, Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium to host the 2018 tournament.

The BBC has defended the timing of Panorama, saying the programme is in the public interest. The alleged bribes to the three members of Fifa’s executive committee were paid by sports marketing company International Sport and Leisure (ISL) and date from 1989 to 1999, Panorama reports. The company collapsed in 2001.

Fifa granted ISL exclusive rights to market World Cup tournaments to some of the world’s biggest brands and ISL received millions more from negotiating television broadcast rights. A former account manager at ISL, Roland Buechel, said staff had long suspected bribes were being paid for the lucrative Fifa contracts.

“It is huge money, billions, that can be earned and all the sports marketing companies they fight, they want it,” Mr Buechel said. Some details of the alleged bribes emerged in 2008, when six ISL managers were accused of misusing company money. One Fifa official – Nicolas Leoz, of Paraguay, the head of South America’s football confederation – was named in court papers in connection with payments totalling $130,000 (£83,000). But Panorama has obtained a confidential ISL document which lists 175 secret payments. It shows Mr Leoz was paid a further $600,000 (£384,000 using current conversions) in three instalments of $200,000.

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