“Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios…”
John Prine, Sam Stone, 1971
As this book is completed, we wait to see if the FBI will indict leading members of Blatter’s FIFA Family. The investigations by an FBI Organised Crime Squad, based in Federal Plaza, New York, began in 2010 and I have met in London with Special Agents and officials from the Department of Justice.
In March 2013, Reuters reported that Jack Warner’s son Daryan is a co-operating witness, presumably handing over Daddy’s offshore bank accounts. There is also said to be interesting video evidence from security cameras at the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas.
It is likely that Chuck Blazer is also co-operating. The FBI and the IRS became aware in late summer 2011 that Blazer was running his tax avoidance schemes through banks in the Caribbean — but nearly three years later he has not yet been indicted.
Will “The Belly” go to jail? Will Warner and Blatter and more of FIFA’s leadership be in adjoining cells?
Foreword by Romario
Most reporters do not have the courage of Andrew Jennings. He has the ability and willingness to put what is true in the pages, the radio, the Internet and television.
Andrew is one of the guys within journalism for which I have 100% respect. For all he has done in the fight against FIFA, in publishing his articles and books.
Glad to know that my work here in Congress has been very positive for which he has provided me with material. I thank you and ask you to keep sending things to me.
Here I am not an Andrew Jennings, but I’m Romario!
I have guts like him and a lot of courage.
Romario de Souza Faria,
Former player and congressman
Prologue: (In Palermo—Learning about the Mafia)
Palermo, February 1987: We are in an orange grove outside the city, filming a small industrial building. It is deserted now but until recently was a juice pressing plant. According to claims filed with a subsidy department of the European Union, it was the busiest orange juice pressing plant in the world.
The Mob used it to submit massive fraudulent demands for subsidy on orange juice that had never existed. They bribed and intimidated officials to rubber-stamp their claims – and stole millions of dollars. The scam ended, the mobsters escaped. But this is Sicily and they are everywhere, watching.
A big black saloon car with black tinted windows pulls up alongside me and my film crew. A bulky man emerges and walks towards me. Gesturing over his shoulder at an invisible but obviously important person behind the tinted windows he announces, sharply, ‘E says you no film ‘ere.’
I pretend not to understand, it gives my cameraman time to grab a few more exterior shots of the disused building. As the guy’s eyes began to bulge with anger I grab his hand, shake it firmly, say ‘arrivederci,’ and shout to the crew, ‘Time to go!’
It wasn’t a good day. Earlier we had driven up to the little town of Altofonte, in the hills above Palermo. We knew it was the home of a Mafia boss who was now their top man in London. The streets were narrow, the high, blank walls closing in on both sides of our rental car. We took a blind turn, swung hard left into another narrow lane—and were faced by four black horses with black plumes on their heads. Oh No! A funeral.
We found space to slide by the horses and the glass hearse. We avoided the scowls, didn’t dare catch the eye of anybody in the column of mourners walking behind. Without delay, we found another road out of town.
One evening later that week we were escorted by armed police through concrete corridors and thick, blast-proof steel doors in a labyrinth beneath the Palace of Justice in Palermo. Eventually we arrived at the tiny office of Investigating Magistrate Giovanni Falcone. A jovial man whose successes against the Mafia had made him their top target, he took time away from the intelligence reports he was studying, produced a bottle of Scotch whisky and entertained us with information about the gangsters we were investigating.
Five years later the Mob got Falcone and his wife. His car disintegrated when half a ton of explosives were detonated in a culvert under an auto-route from the airport to Palermo.
I completed the film, revealing how the Mafia laundered millions of dollars from heroin sales in America through banks in the City of London, onward to Bellinzona in Switzerland and finally to Italy. Afterwards, I wanted to know more about how the mafia operated. I studied essays and reports by senior policemen and criminologists examining the definitions and structures of Organised Crime Syndicates. This became essential preparation for investigating the international sports federations.
I sniffed around FIFA in the 1990s and from 2000 began to focus on Blatter and Havelange. Soon I realised that I was back in the dark ethos of Sicily and the criminal culture of Omertà–but transferred to another continent. I travelled further back in time, researching and reading and arrived in Bangu 50 years ago. From the world of the bicheiros I travelled back to Europe and discovered secret suitcases of gold ingots collected in Zurich. Following them completed the circle back to Copacabana and now… the World Cup of 2014.
Cumbria, April 2014
1 Welcome to Rio
Havelange’s Gangster Friends Cannot Stop Killing
April 8, 2010, Avenue of the Americas, Rio de Janeiro: BOOM! The Toyota Corolla is armoured to repel bullets but the extra gauge steel in the doors doesn’t protect the teenage driver from the bomb strapped under his seat. The armed bodyguards in the two cars behind can only mourn 17-year-old Diogo Andrade who was whacked. They may never find all of him.
His dad, Rogério, sitting in the passenger seat, escapes with a broken nose. Later, in a hospital bed in Barra D’Or, he begins plotting revenge. He knows who ordered the bomb. But how did his security team fail to spot it?
Shocked drivers, backed up behind the wreckage along the boulevard in Barra da Tijuca, running parallel to the glittering beaches, get out to watch police and paramedics in the bright morning sunshine wearing rubber gloves collect the body parts they can find in the gutter. They gawp at the tangle of smoking Corolla wreckage and another car destroyed–caught in the blast. It’s those gang wars. Will they never stop?
It’s the Spring of 2010, the contractors and their powerful friends are shaking down the taxpayers with extravagant plans for remodelling the Maracanã, reducing the popular seating to make space for a necklace of hospitality boxes that only the international high-rollers can afford.
Welcome to Rio where the white collar gangsters are battling, employing lawyers and politicians as their weapons, over the wealth the World Cup and the Olympics could provide. More visible—in Avenue of the Americas—is another of Rio’s turf battles, a divided mafia family snarling over the city’s numbers rackets, the slots and the white powder trade.
Forget the small-time drug dealers in the hillside favelas with the best views over the ocean, exchanging bullets with the Federal police and the army, ethnic cleansers clearing the way for the arrival of the hotel chains. Land is one of the most precious commodities in town and if homes have to be bulldozed – that’s what you do to build a first-world economy–the profits banked in the Caribbean.
These killers down on the boulevard are longtime members of another city elite, celebrated in the media and the sports world, protected by corrupt police and politicians.
THE ECHOES of the blast bounce back from the hills. Does the Redeemer shed a tear for the lost boy from the summit of Corcovado Mountain? João Havelange resting in his elegant apartment shudders. This vulgar violence is unnecessary.
Hadn’t he done everything for the Andrade family? Put Rio’s Godfather in charge of the national team? Given him football prestige? Tried to warn off the anti-mafia cops. When that damn woman judge refused to be intimidated, visited him in jail?
His old friend Castor, great-uncle to the dead boy, had kept the town tight. Minimal murdering. Paid for Carnival for the Rio masses. At the same time the patrician Havelange was learning how to create a global crime family without a death, even a broken leg. Money was the grease, supplied by the global brands and the world’s TV networks, competing to get a slice of the commodity he controlled.
ELSEWHERE in the city, Romario is talking with officials from the Partido Socialista Brasileiro. He wants to evict Ricardo Teixeira, longtime president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, and his corrupt cabal who have dominated and robbed the Brazilian game for decades. One way would be to run for Congress in six months time. Politicians have power. And there’s little Ivy, his darling five-year old Downes daughter. Romario has discovered first hand how little his country provides for the disabled. Some weekends he plays in benefits in small towns across the land raising funds for facilities.
Brazil’s football bosses laugh behind their hands. Romario? He’s another playboy star. He’s hung up his boots. His striker days are over. What kind of threat can this child of the favelas be to them, men of power, wealth and with a squad of obedient politicians on their payroll?
In São Paulo José Maria Marin, once the darling of the military dictatorship along with his companion in crime, Paulo Maluf, perhaps the most gross thief of the Brazilian people’s money, is now a vice-president of Brazilian football. All is well, the people have long forgotten how he helped set up courageous reporter Vladimir Herzog to be tortured to death. And if ‘Tricky Ricky’ Teixeira has to emigrate abruptly, in the familiar Latin American way, to one of his lovely homes in Florida, José Maria will replace him at the honeypot.
THE ROAR of the death blast on the Avenue of the Americas cannot be heard in faraway Johannesburg. With eight weeks to go to the opening game in Soccer City, Sepp Blatter and his South African capos have enough problems. Outraged by price gouging, fans are staying home. In the townships citizens protest every day; ‘Service riots’ send messages to politicians that public money should be spent on homes, water, sewage plants and jobs, not stadiums that will become white elephants. Why should they listen? They have the police beat back the protestors.
The World Cup is good news for Danny Jordaan, leader of the bid and now chief executive for the tournament. Quietly, his brother Andrew has been given a well-paid job as Hospitality liaison with MATCH Event Services at the Port Elizabeth stadium. A stakeholder in the MATCH company is Sepp Blatter’s nephew Philippe Blatter. The majority owners are Mexican brothers Jamie and Enrique Byrom, based in Manchester, England, Zurich, Switzerland and with some of their bank accounts in Spain and the Isle of Man.
The Brothers are not happy. Sepp Blatter awarded them the lucrative 2010 hospitality contract aimed at wealthy football patrons, mostly from abroad. If that wasn’t enough, Blatter also gave them the contract to manage and distribute the three million tickets. The brothers are charging top rates for hotels and internal flights and expected to make huge profits. Instead, they are on their way to losing $50 million. They plan to recoup these losses in Brazil in four years time. Meanwhile they are arranging quietly to supply FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and his black market associates in Oslo with tickets to sell onto the black market, as they did in Germany in 2006.
THE ZURICH LAWYERS have earned their fees. In a few weeks it will be made public that the criminal investigation into the FIFA officials who took kickbacks on World Cup marketing contracts from the ISL company is closed. The lawyers have achieved a great deal; the names will be kept secret forever. A little money will be repaid. Case closed. Were Brazilians involved? No comment. And you Herr Blatter? No comment.
The FIFA president had been worried that the cops would publish the evidence that back in March 1997 he had handled a $1 million bribe destined for Havelange. That bastard British reporter had been tipped off. But if the story surfaced again the President would hire his own investigators and have himself acquitted. Later in the year one of the Swiss detectives takes the British reporter for dinner at a restaurant overlooking a lake. ‘Don’t give up,’ he says.
THE FIFA PRESIDENT is demonstrably depressed. Is his reign coming to an end? In February he grants an interview to a woman reporter from the Cairo paper Al-Ahram. Suddenly, he launches into a grandiose list of his achievements. Sounds like his obituary. Because she was a well-informed Arab, Blatter cannot hold back.
‘With Mohamed, we had a wonderful time together as friends up to the last congress in May,’ says Blatter. ‘All of a sudden our friendship was broken. Ask him, why? I don’t know.’
Not true. Blatter does know. Mohamed, the reporter knows, is Mohamed Bin Hammam from Qatar. For twelve years he has provided the cash to buy the votes to keep Blatter on the president’s throne. Now he wants the job for himself. He can raise more cash than Blatter and will win. The election will be in a year’s time and even as poor young Diogo is blown apart, Mohamed is assembling his bags of cash and brown envelopes. Yes, he really does put his bribes in brown paper envelopes. Next year somebody will photograph one.
THE GREEDY OLD MEN at FIFA don’t hear the blast. They listen only for the rustle of greenbacks. This year, 2010, is going to be their richest. Four months after the World Cup they will decide which country gets to host the World Cup in 2018. Worried that they may not live to pocket more bribes in another four years, when they have to choose a host for 2022, they announce they will vote for both tournaments in December this year. Christmas presents, twice.
Look at the bidders! Putin wants it badly for Russia. The jalabiyas of Qatar want it. Two of the richest petro-dollar states in the world, begging. Wow! Bliss! Ricardo Teixeira has a smile on his face all year. Across the border, in Asuncion, the president of Conmebol Nicolás Leoz smells money–and more. He co-existed easily with the vile Stroessner, he’s been extracting bribes from football forever. He doesn’t yet know that his thieving will feature on British TV in seven months.
The Nigerian vacuum cleaner Amos Adamu has been a member of FIFA’s 24-man ruling executive for four years. He passed the test to join FIFA with ease; he stole every penny he could find in Nigerian sport. He still hasn’t delivered the accounts for the all-African Games in Abuja in 2003. When the good times roll his son Samson will expect a share.
Across the continent, in Cairo, Africa’s football leader Issa Hayatou isn’t getting any poorer. Later in the year one payment will be pinned on him by the BBC. There are so many of FIFA’s leaders to wonder about but evidence is hard to get. Frequently under fire is Thailand’s Worawi Makudi. The accusations roll in, Worawi rolls them away, his fellow leaders circle the wagons.
Six months ago João Havelange, the most senior member of the IOC, led the Rio delegation to Copenhagen to bid for the 2016 Olympics. They will not cost much because only two years ago the city staged the Pan-American Games and the bidding team insist that venues need only a coat of paint to be ready for the Olympics.
Brazilian IOC member Carlos Nuzman was nominally the bid leader but Havelange was accompanied by Jean-Marie Weber, The Bagman, the marketing company manager who suitcased $100 million of bribes to sports officials—including Havelange—in the last century. President Obama spoke up for Chicago. Weber talked to his old friends at the IOC—and that was that.
A VOLLEY of rifle shots dispatched Antônio Carlos Macedo as he rode his Harley-Davidson through Rio. He had been Rogério Andrade’s head of security and was gunned down in late 2010, a month before the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Rogério decided he had planted the bomb that detached his son’s limbs. The Andrade family has been killing each other since Havelange’s mentor, Castor, died of an apparent heart attack in 1997. His son Paulinho who expected to inherit most of the crime empire was executed, supposedly by Rogério, a year later. Several more gangsters have been eliminated but the city is unlikely to be as stable again as the years when Castor and João ruled.
Editor’s Note: Wired868 has been authorised to publish excerpts from Omerta for readers. We urge you to click HERE to purchase an online version of the book for just £8.