PtG Article 27.06.2007

FIFA reorganises before ISL court case opens in March next year

Corruption is a touchy subject for FIFA at the moment. Recently, John McBeth from Scotland was deselected as the British associations’ FIFA vice-president after he made remarks to journalists about corruption in FIFA. General Secretary Urs Linsi has also left FIFA as president Blatter circles the wagons before FIFA must defend itself against charges of corruption when the ISL case reaches court in March next year.

The news that Urs Linsi has “decided to seek new challenges elsewhere” came as no surprise to one of the most astute observers of the power games in FIFA, investigative reporter Andrew Jennings.

The decision not to offer Linsi a new contract had been expected after internal battles with fellow directors and FIFA executive committee members Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer.

“This has been on the cards for a long time.  But whereas Jack Warner would be pleased to see Linsi go, he probably was not able to decide it. That was Blatter’s decision,” says Jennings.

In Jennings’ analysis, Blatter’s move was dictated by a need to ensure that he can not be challenged from within the organisation when the ISL case comes to court in Zug in March next year and FIFA must answer questions on why it repaid bribes money to the insolvent ISL estate.

“The court case will lead to crisis within FIFA and it may bring Blatter down,” says Jennings and points out that several groups are ready to move if that happens. That includes people around UEFA president Michel Platini and the German Football Federation that backs Franz Beckenbauer.

Don’t mention corruption

Meanwhile the world has been able to see firsthand the fate that befalls people within the FIFA system if they speak in public about corruption in the world football organisation.

Last month the outgoing president of the Scottish Football Association, John McBeth, was preparing to take up a position as the four British associations’ FIFA vice-president, when he sat down with a group of journalists.

During this session, McBeth made some very frank statements when asked about his attitudes to the allegations of corruption against FIFA made by amongst others Andrew Jennings whose book and website McBeth says he has read.

"If you come across corruption I think you've got to expose it. Let's use the Jack Warner situation where he controls 35 Fifa votes. I can only think that Blatter must realise that 35 votes is an important block if he wants to stay as the president of FIFA: I've got to keep those votes on my side'. It's a very political thing. I think one's got to do your duty and get involved and find out. If I walked away from it you'd never find out. You'd never know”, McBeth said according to the newspaper the Sunday Herald.

McBeth also speculated that maybe 50 per cent of the allegations made against Blatter were well founded.

FIFA reacted swiftly to these remarks and others where McBeth indicated that African and Caribbean countries just want to grab what they can.  In a matter of days he was reported to FIFA’s Ethics Committee and told to stay away from the FIFA Congress. And two days after that the four British associations - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland elected the Football Association chairman, Geoff Thompson, as their new FIFA Vice President.

In a statement, the British associations said “The four British associations wish to confirm that the statements attributed to Mr John McBeth most certainly do not represent the views of the British associations. We support the decision of FIFA to refer the matter to the FIFA Ethics Commission.”

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