PtG Article 29.03.2011

Swiss government to look into FIFA’s Burma spendings

According to media reports, the Swiss State Secretariat on Economic Affairs (SECO) is looking into FIFA’s spendings in Burma after it emerged that one of the recipients is a company owned by business tycoon and President of the Myanmar Football Federation (MFF) Mr Zaw Zaw, who is sanctioned in the EU, the U.S. and Switzerland.

Since the MFF is not the private property of Mr. Zaw Zaw, SECO had previously stated that FIFA could donate to the football federation without violating sanctions, but due to a FIFA rule stating that FIFA “shall effect payment directly to the contractual parties concerned in compliance with the contracts”, the governing body has run into problems.

One of the Burmese recipients of FIFA funds for the construction of training facilities has turned out to be Max Myanmar Construction Co. Ltd., a company owned by Mr. Zaw Zaw and as such the donation is breaking Swiss sanctions.

According to the Burmese independent media organisation Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Swiss official Thomas Graff from SECO said that “SECO is in contact with FIFA to seek clarification of the allegations that appeared in the media. FIFA will make available to us all information we need.”

He furthermore added that “SECO will not make a public announcement or comment on the results of the information sharing by FIFA”.

DVB writes that FIFA refused to comment directly on the accusations, and only responded that it “has contacted SECO and explained the details of the project in Myanmar [Burma]. FIFA will provide all the necessary documents to the SECO.”