PtG Article 09.05.2006

FIFA gets partial ban on sale of new book by Jennings

In the week of World Press Freedom Day, investigative reporter Andrew Jennings finally published his book “Foul!” with stories about bribes, vote rigging and ticket scandals in FIFA. It happened in the face of massive resistance from FIFA which since September 2005 has tried to stop the publication and recently succeeded in getting a ban on the sale of the book in Switzerland.

In the book, Andrew Jennings claims to disclose  

  • how leading sports officials have been forced to turn out their pockets and return their bribes
  • the truth about claims of vote-rigging during the 1998 FIFA presidency
  • the curious case of the President’s campaign expenses
  • the FIFA vice president who says Jewish referees just aren’t up to the job
  • the cosy contracts awarded to FIFA  insiders
  • the bitter power struggles that threaten to tear FIFA apart

The book is false and libellous, FIFA said in a press release issued while the book was still in print. And the argument has been upheld by the Swiss courts even though neither the judge nor FIFA have read the book which has been kept under lock and key until publication in Britain on 2 May.

FIFA spokesperson, Andreas Herren, tells the Swiss newspaper, Tages-Anzeiger, that FIFA for years have been discussing with Andrew Jennings and answered the same questions over and over again.

“Unfortunately, we have seen that in his previous articles he has either not used our answers or presented them incorrectly,” Herren says.

: I hope Blatter will sue me

In a globalised world a ban on the sale of a book in one country is unlikely to have an effect apart from drawing unfortunate attention to FIFA itself.

On 3 May, World Press Freedom Day itself, Andrew Jennings was in Denmark to introduce the Danish version of the book and the next day he was in Norway to introduce the Norwegian version. Publication is on the way in other languages too, and the book is for sale in at least one Internet bookshop based in Switzerland.

In Denmark, Andrew Jennings explained how the book had been taken apart by lawyers for nine months in order to ensure that everything was above reproach. The reporter also told a packed audience at the Danish School of Journalism that he hopes Blatter will sue him.

“FIFA tried to stop the book which implies that it is true what I write but I don’t know if they dare take it any further. Blatter knows that I am writing the truth. So I hope he will take me to court where I will demand that he is called as a witness. Then he will be forced to tell the truth. But I don’t think, he dares,” Jennings said.

Andrew Jennings previously wrote books exposing corruption in the International Olympic Committee. He is currently working on a film with the BCC as a follow-up to the book about FIFA.