Billionaire Lowy hires another Bagman
They had their own people elected to head the big federations, football, athletics and the Olympics and adidas kit, boots and footballs were on every television screen at every global championship. Then it struck Horst he should own the transmissions so he set up the International Sport and Leisure company (ISL) to market the rights to the world’s networks. That cost more than one hundred million dollars in bribes, many suitcases of the stuff going to a few powerful FIFA officials. I heard a judge say that in a Swiss court two years ago.
You guessed, Fedor was a key player at ISL.
They began dealing in Coke and Crapburger marketing contracts and for a while Fedor’s best friend Franz Beckenbauer, who had his own deals with Dassler, was happy to warehouse the precious rights in a shell company in Sarnen named Rofa with his manager Robert Schwan.
Cancer caught Horst in the late 1980s and Fedor moved home from his beloved Berchtesgaden to work for his first billionaire. Leo Kirch ran his television and film operations from Munich but he saw Fedor had the right stuff to run his operations out of Kreuzlingen on the banks of the Bodensee, north-east of Zurich.
Inner Circle of Fixers
The company was CWL and later its inner circle of fixers, ex-footballers, lawyers and marketing agents – like funny Fedor - came to believe they had changed the face of sports history. Fedor privatised himself out of Leo’s subsidiary but not out of his world.
Across town in Munich he set up in business with a young graphic designer who was so much smoother than Fedor and dressed so beautifully that he could camouflage his mentor. If you saw elegant Andreas Abold in the sunlight, depend on it Funny Fedor was somewhere nearby in the shadows.
Fast forward to 1998 and Germany is bidding to host the 2006 World Cup. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has promised it to South Africa and even though he had his fingers crossed behind his back when he said it, the buggers are collecting votes faster than rival bid leader Herr Beckenbauer likes.
The Former German captain isn’t happy. Neither is Old Leo Kirch in his Munich eerie. Back in 1996 Leo bought the German rights to screen the 2006 World cup and he’ll make a whole lot more money if the matches are played at home. What is to be done?
Hello Fedor. Hello Andreas. Both join Herr Beckenbauer’s team. The young man does the pretty pictures. Fedor will get the votes in. That’s the plan.
This is how he did it. On my desk here, next to my keyboard, is a copy of a confidential letter written by one of Old Leo’s semi-submerged lawyers to one of Leo’s Biggest Suits back in 2000 in the weeks before FIFA’s 24 executive board members selected a host nation.
It’s a work-in-progress memo. The fix was already in. Look, there’s funny Fedor’s name on the first line of the two-page upsum of how the money was being spread around. The first item is the suit-casing of US$1 million to one of the most influential men in FIFA’s orbit.
He’s Elias Zaccour, a Lebanese racehorse owner with homes in Rio and Paris. My friends tell me he really is a nice man who has a close relationship with former top gun Joao Havelange. Decades ago Elias promoted Brazil’s stars touring the world. It was big business in an age before television became universal.
Funny Fedor had completed the negotiation, now he needed a $250,000 first instalment to hand over, pronto. To head off narco-dollar laundering investigations Fedor and the boys had written a contract. It was conclusive evidence that Germans do have a sense of humour. First you need to know that whatever his business ethics, Leo had assembled one the world’s biggest movie libraries. He was the king of the movie rights.
Numbered Bank Account
So how to justify the cool mil being paid to a man who said in the contract he was from Beirut and wanted the money funnelled through a numbered account in Luxembourg? Ah, said immensely funny Fedor, we all get our money by pretending to be consultants, let’s make Elias a consultant to Leo. In what way, asked the Big Suit, Leo has no interest in racehorses.
Look, says Funny Fedor, I’ve already drafted the contract. We’ve got to get the first suitcase of cash to him. I’ve written that he has ‘longstanding experience and contacts in the field of film exploitation, film licensing, merchandising and various other relating fields.’ So what, said the not-quite-catching-on-what-the-scam-was, below-the-waterline lawyer.
It’s money well spent said by now unfunny Fedor. And that’s what they did. The rest of the money would be paid in annual instalments for the next three years. The contract was dated May 31, 2000. Only 36 days to the vote and more key people to do business with.