Ripping up Soccer: The Story Behind the FIFA Scandals
11.11.2002By Andrew Jennings
FIFA is in good moral and financial shape. Look at the credibility of the football officials who say so.
For a start, there's FIFA president Sepp Blatter. He says they are transparent, clean, selfless volunteers for sport - and that corruption allegations against him are nothing more than the whining of a few European nations - and reporters - unable to accept that Lenart Johansson lost the presidential race in 1998.
President Blatter is currently being investigated for fraud by the Zurich public prosecutor's office. But he must be innocent because the IOC have awarded him the Olympic Order.
The word of Julio, Jack, Isaac and Ricardo
Julio Grondona says FIFA is clean. Surely we believe him. He is the most senior FIFA vice-president and chairman of the all-important Finance Committee.
Can we trust Julio? Not everybody thinks so. Last month an Argentine judge announced he is investigating Senor Grondona's possible involvement in a million-dollar football swindle.
That doesn't bother Sepp Blatter who 24 hours before the expected announcement by the judge, went on a Buenos Aires radio station to assure anxious listeners of his support for Julio and added that "Together, we will defend football and transparency in FIFA".
Perhaps Blatter's most loyal supporter on the FIFA executive Committee is Vice-President Jack Warner from Trinidad. Jack is also deputy chairman of the FIFA Finance committee and along with Julio Grondona, guards the secret of Blatter's salary.
Jack has absolute control over 35 votes in FIFA elections and if you want to be president, you have to have Jack's support. It's endearing when he speaks highly of his "Dear Sepp."
Some people are of the opinion that Jack Warner use FIFA to line his own pockets. In his spare time, he rigs elections at FIFA. That's OK with Dear Sepp, because he is always the beneficiary of the voting fraud.
Jack recently let slip in that in the 10 years since he gave up being a poorly paid teacher in Trinidad and joined the FIFA executive, his wealth has soared to about $50 million dollars.
Jack Warner is special and if time allows, we'll come back to him.
Isaac Sasso Sasso, the executive committee member from Costa Rica thinks everything at FIFA is simply wonderful. He can see no wrong in Sepp and Jack and Julio. . . . . Or Ricardo.
Ricardo Teixeira is president of the Brazilian football federation and a member of the FIFA ExCo. He is totally loyal to Blatter and thinks he is doing a great job. That's not surprising. Ricardo is still on good terms with his former father-in-law, the last FIFA president Havelange, who spent a lot of FIFA's money in 19998 ensuring his protege Blatter replaced him.
Ricardo has a reputation. Not one that any of us here would want. A Congressional investigation into corruption in the Brazilian football confederation concluded last year that Ricardo was "implicated in a range of financial crimes." It specifically listed money laundering, theft and tax fraud and urged the police to prosecute Ricardo and his associates.
One potential witness the Congressmen were keen to interrogate was Senor Silva, president of Brazil's biggest club, Flamengo. He failed to turn up, sending the message that - his dentist had told him he must avoid talking a lot.
Mohamed, Chuck, Koloskov and Gerhard
Alongside the loyal Ricardo, Julio, Jack and Isaac on the FIFA ExCo is Mohamed from Qatar.
Mohamed bin Hammam gives the impression of having the entire wealth of oil and gas-rich Qatar at his disposal to spend on soccer politics. When Blatter campaigns in the poorer regions of the world, Mohamed is often there, and it's said that the private jets belong to the Emir of Qatar.
Doesn't anybody ever whisper to the supposedly progressive Emir that Qatar's dubious role in FIFA and at the Olympic Council of Asia is making his tiny country a world laughing stock?
Mohamed rejects accusations that he has provided the "walk-about money" needed to buy the votes of individual soccer officials.
There is so much love and trust between Mohamed and Sepp that Sepp has put Mohamed in charge of deciding which soccer federations should benefit from a $100 million development programme.
When my newspaper challenged Mohamed bin Hammam to explain why tickets with his name on them were being sold at vastly inflated prices by touts at the World Cup in Japan, he said - it was a mystery to him.
Mohamed is a big pal of Chuckie, who is also a member of the FIFA ExCo. Chuck Blazer is General Secretary of the Caribbean, Central and North American confederation. That makes him Jack Warner's chief lieutenant and together, Chuckie and Jackie love Sepp Blatter.
Chuckie was not pleased when I wrote a story last year disclosing that he was joint owner with Kirch Media of an online gambling business that was intended to take bets on the World Cup.
You have to admire Chuckie's ability to change hats. At the FIFA ExCo he has a duty to scrutinise the operations of Kirch, now bankrupt, to whom the ExCo had awarded the world TV rights to the World Cup. And he had a responsibility to soccer fans to ensure the integrity of the World Cup tournament.
At his company, Global Interactive Gaming, he sought to extract profit from the tournament.
Nicolas Leoz from Paraguay is an ardent fan of Sepp and Julio, Isaac, Ricardo, Jackie, Chuckie and Mohamed. He was recruited to the ExCo in 1998 at the age of 70. It isn't clear what this sick old man actually does at FIFA, apart from being loyal to Sepp.
It's hardly surprising that Russia's ExCo member Mr Viacheslav Koloskov is utterly loyal to Sepp. He lost his membership of the FIFA ExCo between 1998 and 2000 and so missed out on the good life.
This is intolerable, decided Blatter. Without any consultation he authorised a payment of $100,000 to Koloskov.
The payment discovered, Blatter admitted it was illegal.
Gerhard also thinks the world of Sepp. Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder, the boss of German football, has just joined the FIFA ExCo and is another ally of Blatter.
Blatter has authorised immense payments to Germany to organise the world cup of 2006.
Whether Gerhard has time to count this money is debatable since he must spend much of his time dealing with a fraud investigation into him by the German Tax Police.
His daughter Marion works for the FIFA marketing company and travels the world in style. Alongside her much of that time is her companion, Blatter's spokesman, Markus Siegler.
So we have this solid block of Sepp and Julio, Isaac, Ricardo, Chuckie and Jackie, Nicolas, Mohamed and Gerhard and the Russian Koloskov.
On most issues Sepp can expect support from Michel Platini from France and delegates from Spain, Thailand, Japan and Tonga.
Impotent now, since they lost their slight majority are 8 other members, 4 from Europe, 3 from Africa and a Korean. That's how they take decisions at FIFA.
Journalist locked up by Angolan soccer president
Let's change direction for a moment.
In Angola is a courageous journalist named Rafael Marques. In July 1999 he published an article critical of Angolan president Santos, calling him corrupt.
I don't know if the Angolan government is corrupt. But I trust the rating given to Angola by the anti-corruption organisation, Transparency International. They rate Angola rate 85th out of the world's top 90 trading countries - they are one of the worst in the world. And I note the international media disclosures that the proceeds of the sale of oil and diamond rights end up in secret European bank accounts.
Three months after the article appeared in a weekly paper, the police came calling at the home of Rafael Marques - and they came just after 6 in the morning. They came with automatic weapons. President Santos, they announced was "offended" by the journalist.
They took him away and for 10 days he was locked in a stinking prison and denied visits from family, friends or lawyers. He spent 41 days in jail. One little novelty, and this was reported by the Associated Press, was a request from the police that Rafael Marques sign a document absolving them of responsibility in the event of his death in prison.
The governments of Britain and America protested this breach of human rights. So too did the European Parliament, Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola.
Rafael Marques faced up to 8 years in jail for what his tormentors called "abuse of the press." Eventually, and probably because of their embarrassment at having the international spotlight on them, the government-controlled court gave him a 6-month sentence, suspended for 5 years and refused him permission to leave the country.
During the trial the judge threw Rafael's lawyer out of the court. Then they fined him $1,500 and he was ordered to pay a further $5,000 damages to President Santos to help him recover from the trauma of being called corrupt.
Rafael is now forbidden to speak or write about the case. In Angola during that period more than 20 journalists have been arrested for alleged defamation against the state.
Even in dictatorships there has to be some kind of bureaucratic procedure before they lock you up. Pieces of paper signed by important people, that kind of thing.
Would you like to know the name of the degenerate low-life in the Angolan government who authorised this illegal abuse of the human rights of journalist Rafael Marques?
Step forward Senor Justino Jose Fernandes.
I emailed Rafael Marques and asked him, tell me more about Senor Fernandes.
He replied: "Justino Jose Fernandes is the Angolan president's adviser for social affairs, a former minister of Youth and Sports, of Industry and Governor of Luanda. As you are aware, we are talking about one of the most corrupt regimes in the world."
"He is a close friend of president Dos Santos, a godfather for one of his children and part of his inner circle. He is a Dos Santos' protege. He is the one who filed a criminal suit against me, on behalf of the president, which led me to a "nice" vacation in jail."
I know what I think of Senor Fernandes: He's a bastard! Anybody agree? Let's hear it: Justino Jose Fernandes is a bastard.
Salim and Fernandez on new audit committee
Now let's look at another bastard.
Meet Jose Carlos Salim, until recently in charge of finances and marketing at the Brazilian football confederation.
Last year Pele's business partner testified to a parliamentary investigation into corruption in Brazilian soccer. He said that Senor Salim demanded a $1 million bribe before their marketing company could do business with the Brazilian federation. Salim was also accused by the investigation of alleged involvement in a $40 million money laundering scam.
The investigation concluded that Brazilian Football Confederation is "a den of crime, anarchy, incompetence and dishonesty.
Let's go back to FIFA.
From the Spring of last year, when FIFA's marketing company ISL went into bankruptcy, simmering allegations of corruption surfaced against president Blatter.
It has long been believed that ISL paid bribes to senior officials in sports federations in return for marketing contracts. I'm sure it happened. These suspicions coincided with allegations that Blatter was spending FIFA's money buying the support of his cronies around the world who could get him re-elected.
In April this year when Blatter faced the narrowest of majorities against him on FIFA's ExCo, he was forced to accept the appointment of an Internal Audit Committee. He managed to block access to his all-important Presidential office and its imperial retinue of advisors and consultants.
But it was a huge threat. The six strong committee, led by Scottish vice-president David Will began probing and after three weeks they were ready to interrogate Finance Director Urs Linsi.
At that point in April this year Blatter stepped in and barred the door. He suspended the committee saying they would resume work later in the year.
And they will, very soon. But there's been some changes in the committee line-up. They make me wonder just how thorough this audit committee will be.
Two of the new faces at the committee are:
- the president of the Angolan soccer federation, Justino Jose Fernandes,
- and Brazil's Jose Carlos Salim.
When it comes to a vote - the bastards will control one-third of the result.
The dark heart of FIFA
Soccer's integrity will of course be safe now these two gentlemen are the watchdogs. Come with me a little further into the dark and complicated heart of FIFA.
Australia's Basil Scarsella is the only survivor from the old committee. Blatter needs all the votes he can get so he's been stroking the Oceania region, saying it is under-represented in the leadership of world football.
He tempts Oceania with the suggestion that they should have one guaranteed place in the World Cup finals. At present they have to play-off against teams from other regions.
Australian soccer dominates the region and so Australia would become the only nation in the world with as good as a guaranteed place in the World Cup.So Mr Scarsella has every good reason not to offend President Blatter.
Presidents, as Rafael Marques discovered, are dangerous when they are offended.
FIFA vice-president Moon-Jung Chung from Korea who never feared condemning Blatter is also evicted from the Internal Audit Committee, replaced by handpicked Syrian Army General Farouk Bouzo.
America's Chuck Blazer, who assisted Blatter in closing down the original audit committee, has moved on. His replacement is Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman Islands, population 36,000 and ranked 173rd in world football.
Blatter took special care of Webb at the World Cup, awarding him a work-free, six-week, five-star holiday with important responsibilities on . . . the Protocol Committee.
Mr Webb can be expected to vote with the two bastards. That's 50% of the committee.
There's a new chairman, Italian IOC member Franco Carraro. He's a close ally of Blatter. His casting vote could be vital. It's a disgraceful end to the only attempt FIFA has ever made to investigate its own corruption.
Mr Webb's closest friend in Caribbean football is Jamaica's Horace Burrell, appointed to the Discipline Committee, headed by Blatter's Swiss friend Marcel Mathier.
The first task of the Discipline committee should be to investigate a raft of senior FIFA officials, starting with its own Horace Burrell. Earlier this year I revealed in the Daily Mail that at FIFA's 1996 congress in Zurich Burrell's girlfriend Ms Vincey Jalal impersonated the absent delegate from Haiti and voted in his place.
Burrell declines to answer my questions about this vote-rigging. All the evidence is in FIFA's archives - if lawyer Mathier wants to look for it. They also hold video evidence of Trinidad's FIFA vice-president Jack Warner's personal assistant, Neville Ferguson, impersonating an absent delegate in the FIFA Paris congress of 1998 where he cast a bogus vote to help Blatter win the presidency.
Warner, who makes a rich living out of diverting FIFA money and contracts into the pockets of himself and his family is bringing endless disgrace upon soccer. He has selected and nurtured a small group of men scattered across the Caribbean who are loyal first to Jack and their own self-enrichment and doing very little for the game of football in their own communities.
The irony is that even as they follow Blatter's lead and curse Europeans, the money they help themselves to comes from the sale of World Cup TV rights in the lucrative European market.
Until FIFA faces its responsibilities to the game and suspends the Caribbean region and its officials and ends their corrupting of sport, soccer sleaze can only get worse.