Sponsors take over FIFA

FIFA has published its annual Financial Report, six weeks ahead of their annual congress on the Indian Ocean holiday island of Mauritius. There’s no need for delegates to examine the entire 106 pages because the first fifteen confirm, relentlessly, that FIFA’s world is indeed a sunny place.

As they relax on the beaches, awaiting the next lobster lunch, representatives from the 209 national associations might wonder, a little crossly, why do some reporters keep on giving them a hard time? In the Report Chief Editor Joseph Blatter has highlighted ‘transparency’ 5 times. The word ‘reform’ gets 15 mentions. Terrific. All is well. Order another round of rum and coconut juice cocktails.

Pause, scratch head and ponder. Why this need for reform? Blatter, rewriting history with his whitewash brush, hasn’t wasted space reminding delegates of the shameful events he has presided over for the last two years. There’s no place in these 106 pages for unsettling words like bribes-for-votes, corrupt, rackets or contract kickbacks. Erased are the disgraced Havelange, Warner, Adamu, Temarii, Bin Hammam, Blazer, Manilal Fernando and Teixeira. These are happy times. Sip that cocktail.

Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (right) and Jack Warner had a mutually beneficial relationship until the Mohamed Bin Hammam bribery scandal, two years ago.

Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (right) and Jack Warner had a mutually beneficial relationship until the Mohamed Bin Hammam bribery scandal, two years ago.

There’s no mention of another Report, a scandalous one, from Swiss Investigating magistrate Thomas Hildbrand. It examined the $100 million in contract kickbacks pocketed by a handful of FIFA’s leaders. As most delegates gaze admiringly at their Maximum Leader on the podium a few might surreptitiously call up this online report on their smartphones and read the chunky paragraph on page 33, paragraph 6.6.

Hildbrand recalls the day in March 1997 when a bribe for Havelange arrived at FIFA House. Two honest FIFA officials witnessed the then general secretary Blatter ordering the bribe re-routed to their President.

What is Blatter telling delegates in this Report? He opens the show on page 10 with a photo-shopped portrait, the gaunt booze and stress lines removed. Beneath is the comforting slogan “The good governance process is on track.”

‘Dear football friends’ Blatter writes on the next page. It’s been ‘another prosperous year’ with ‘many remarkable achievements.’ One is that he’s got a ‘very ambitious but essential road map for good governance.’

Shyly, he takes credit for the ‘reform’ plan . . . then it turns dark. ‘The reform process will be completed by the 63rd FIFA Congress in 2013,’ he announces. Woe betide the delegate who disagrees. They’ll be feeding the fishes around Mauritius, famous for its Great White Sharks.

The photo-shoppers have been at work again on the next page, cleaning up the well-fed chins of Julio Grondona, the forever boss of FIFA’s Finance Committee. The ‘Don’ says he has kept costs under control so ‘We can continue to invest directly in the beautiful game.’

Oh really? Fast forward to page 23. The money spent on football development fell from $183 million in 2011 to $177 million in 2012, just 15.2% of total revenue. A few years ago FIFA spent 18.95% of its income on developing the game. Oh, and that total income increased from  $1,070 million in 2011 to $1,166 million last year.

Who has pocketed this money? No surprise, the big winners are Blatter’s ruling group at the top of FIFA. The 24 members of the Executive Committee, plus the handful of senior management who serve them unquestioningly, pocketed $33.5 million in 2012. That’s up from $29.5 million the previous year. Indeed they’ve nearly doubled their rewards from 2007 when they helped themselves to a mere $18.9 million.

There’s more: In the small print we discover why FIFA’s managers never speak out about their boss, crooked Sepp Blatter and the rampant corruption at the Zurich HQ. Their mouths are stuffed with cash! They can wipe their bums with $100 bills!

Photo: Sport Minister Anil Roberts (right) poses with FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

Photo: Sport Minister Anil Roberts (right) poses with FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

How much do they pocket? The accounts reveal that in 2012 the middle and lower ranking bureaucrats earned an average salary of $171,842. Add in their expenses claims and other perks and their annual rewards can exceed $200,000. And there’s more noses in football’s trough. Employees have increased from 390 last year to 412, many of whom will be topping up their tans on the Mauritius beaches.

Once the ‘reform’ process has been rammed through, delegates patted on the head and chauffeured to the airport, the blazers can pay themselves even more as every year passes. Cash at the bank went up from $859 million to $1,126 million. Whoopee!

Next year is bonanza time for the old boys. FIFA chief executive Jerome Valcke announces that FIFA will make $1.2 billion profit from the 2014 World Cup. This is roughly double the profits made in South Africa in 2010. Brazil’s now disgraced executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira allowed Blatter and the gang to milk his country in return for some curious financial arrangements now being investigated by Federal Police.

This extra money will be a great help to the next tranche of members of the Executive Committee who may have to resign in a hurry. To help them keep the FIFA vow of omerta they can rely on fat pensions. Leading FIFA brigand for 30 years Jack Warner is already picking up many thousands of dollars and there’s a big fund to be shared out with the others who may be forced out in the next couple of years.

More money is likely to find its way to individual FIFA officials through ticket scams, expenses frauds and other dark deeds. Grondona rounds off with ‘I would like to thank you for all of the trust and support you have placed in me.’ Not to mention his life of imperial luxury.

The next page of the Report introduces a new face to FIFA. They needed an accountant to chair their audit and compliance committee. The world’s full of capable money checkers but the people’s game must now accept DavosMan!

Domenico Scala is the gift to FIFA from the Big Brands, tasked to make sure that the corruption is kept well out of sight, no more embarrassing the sponsors. He starts as he means to go on with the slogan (page 14) ‘We have put a good compliance system in place.’ So there’ll be no more scandals?

Signor Scala absorbed his values on the payroll of Switzerland’s Big Pharm and Nestlé. He’s a favourite at the annual Davos World Economic Forum where they selected him a few years back as a future ‘Young Global Leader.’

President Blatter’s a regular at Davos, delivering football to the service of the global brands. An annual festival of capital and unchecked power, the 1%, Davos has been targeted by the Occupy Movement and the brave women from Femen who taunt the armed cops with a weapon they can’t handle – the naked truth.

 

Editor’s Note: Read the full report at Andrew Jennings’ Transparency in Sport site here

 

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