Photo of cigar smoking gangster squeezing a football with the caption Game of Control - Organized Crime Plays Football


Emblem for the Bulgarian football team - Lokomotiv Plovdiv

Lokomotiv Plovdiv FC: Shoot to kill!


Photo of Munib Usanovic - secretary general of the Bosnian Football Association

Munib Usanovic:
Bosnia FA secretary general


Photo of footballer Sasa Papac (Glasgow Rangers defender)

Sasa Papac – Fed up with crooks


Photo of club emblem for Ukranian football team - Zakarpattya

Zakarpattya FC: Bullets and ballot box


Photo of Platini

Michel Platini: What can I do?


The things they say...

‘Neither FIFA nor its President have anything to hide, nor do they wish to.’

Blatter press release, 28 January, 2003

BBC Panorama Reporter Andy Davies:

‘A one million franc bribe … is it not correct that Mr Blatter asked that it be moved to the FIFA official who was named on the payment slip?’

FIFA Director of Communications Markus Siegler:

‘If you do not stop now, then we call the security and we put you out.’

FIFA Press conference, Zurich, Tuesday, 11 April 2006

‘I am deputy chairman of the finance committee of FIFA. I oversee a budget of US$2 billion and I have never seen one iota of corruption.’

Jack Warner, Trinidad Express 12 December 2004

‘Lying and deception and bad faith are standard operating procedure at FIFA.’

Adam C. Silverstein, a lawyer for MasterCard in their successful action against FIFA, New York, December 1, 2006

‘I do not believe a Jew can ever be a referee at that level (Argentine Premier League) because it’s hard work and, you know, Jews don’t like hard work.’

FIFA senior vice-president and chair of Finance Committee, Julio Grondona, 5 July 2003. Buenos Aires

‘FIFA is a healthy, clean and transparent organisation with nothing to hide. There is huge public interest in FIFA, therefore we have to be as transparent as possible. We will try to communicate in a more open way so the world can believe us and be proud of their federation.’

FIFA General Secretary Urs Linsi, January 2003, on


Balkan Gangsters Play Deadly Football Games

The career with the best longterm prospects in Balkan football isn’t player, coach or owner. It’s funeral director. In some Eastern European countries and clubs, say farewell to your loved ones before taking the top job and give your measurements to the local morticians and embalmers.


If you want to buy into a local club, steer clear of Bulgaria’s Slavia FC. A bomb put a lift into orbit at the holding company’s offices. Scoreline: one director and three bodyguards deceased. Eight months later another director, this time with five bodyguards, terminated by low-flying lead in the club’s grounds. (Makes you wonder if it’s worth paying bodyguards.) Four weeks on, another director took a bullet in the heart.


All this and more has come to light in a remarkable investigation by a cross-border group of reporters in Eastern Europe who’ve uncovered a world of untouchable football gangsters.


Assassinations, frauds, tax dodging, thieving, money-laundering, match-fixing, organised crime controlling the game – that’s everyday life in some clubs and leagues.


Another club much loved by the Bulgarian funeral industry is Lokomotiv of Plovdiv. Former wrestler George Kalapatirov got control of the club – but not for long. A bullet in the heart ended his reign and George Prodanov took over. When the cops extracted the remains of this George from his car they found the brake hoses had been severed.


All was quiet for three years - then the gunfire resumed. Another director took a single hit from a Kalashnikov. Seven remarkable death-free years followed and then 2005 saw three more directors exit without time to pay off their guards.


In Bosnia they kill less and steal a lot more. Around £1 million has gone missing that the national association should have paid in taxes. The general secretary, Munib Usanovic, and the treasurer are charged with abuse of office. When they weren’t giving each other interest-free loans, they lost the documents explaining what happened to another £250,000. The court-appointed auditor says it was the worst bookkeeping she’s seen in two decades.


The make-up of the national association’s executive committee helps explain. One member was convicted of robbing and shooting a man who resisted extortion threats. Another was arrested last year on organised crime charges while a third denies allegations of drug trafficking.


Bosnia’s premier league reflects all that’s wrong with the officials. Epidemic match-fixing means that in the 2007-8 season only 10 percent of visiting teams won. In England the figure is 27 percent, Germany 27 and Spain 29. Relegation is rare and the fans are forsaking the stadiums.


The leading Sarajevo fans club the Fanaticos have called for FIFA and UEFA to intervene, but been snubbed. Glasgow Rangers defender Sasa Papac has turned his back on the national association and withdrawn from international football.


Two clubs in Ukraine have been labelled ‘headquarters for organized crime gangs’ by police. When the cops raided the Zakarpattya club’s offices they arrested 36 armed men – who explained they were preparing for an election meeting. The police admitted that another 150 gunmen got away.


Another arm of the investigation, by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, spent months probing player transfers from Latin America to Europe. They only found one murder. A Bulgarian club owner specialising in narcotics, prostitution, gambling and auto theft ventured into Paraguayan money laundering and was stopped by a single bullet to his chest.


The report reveals many famous names of players and agents plus obscure off-shore companies from the Caribbean to Luxembourg, Dublin, Andorra and Gibraltar that stink of tax evasion and other scams. The investigating team asked FIFA to comment on the involvement of some registered agents. FIFA has not replied.


The man you might expect to wave UEFA’s big stick at these rogues is president Michel Platini. But he appears confused. When asked about the 160 Polish officials charged with match-fixing Platini said, ‘I am neither a judge, nor a policeman,’ adding that national problems should be solved at home.


When the Polish government did just that in October, suspending the national association that wouldn’t clean up its sport, Platini and Blatter immediately backed the shamed officials and threatened Polish football with suspension – effectively barring it from World Cup qualifiers.


Meanwhile, electoral support for Blatter and Platini remains rock-solid in Eastern Europe.


Read the full stunning expose at
The investigation was assisted by the UN Democracy Fund.


View the petition created by Bosnian fans begging FIFA to intervene:






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