FIFA in turmoil as Blatter
fires his last clean aide
By Andrew Jennings
Sunday January 17, 2010
Sepp Blatter’s FIFA is in chaos following the frenzied sacking of Jerome Champagne, one of the few clean senior executives remaining at the highest level of world football.
Blatter capitulated to furious demands from one of the most corrupt members of FIFA’s 23-man executive committee – from outside Europe - that Champagne had to be fired.
He had become increasingly incensed at Champagne’s attempts to block his rampant thieving from football.
Blatter and his general secretary Jérôme Valcke spent Friday hurriedly persuading reporters that Champagne had to go because he was planning to run against Blatter in the presidential elections.
This is nonsense; Champagne never tried to build his own power base – and probably couldn’t have persuaded a single national association to risk Blatter’s anger and nominate him. It is virtually impossible to unseat Blatter who ‘looks after’ his voters in the national associations so generously with millions of dollars for unaudited ‘development.’
Former general secretary Blatter did succeed former President Havelange in 1998 – but only after Havelange was forced from office and then campaigned for Blatter, handing out $50,000 bribes to key voters.
At present only ill-health or the ongoing police investigation into allegations that Blatter used FIFA money to repay kickbacks – hoping to stop threats of civil litigation - are likely to remove the president.
But an increasing threat to Blatter’s survival comes from FIFA’s World Cup sponsors who are letting it be known they are disturbed by the endless corruption allegations clouding his administration and dirtying their brands.
Their distrust of general secretary Jérôme Valcke will be increased by astonishing disclosures from inside FIFA that he vacations with Ricardo Teixeira, denounced as corrupt by Brazil’s Congress and now in charge of Brazil’s 2014 hosting of the World Cup. Teixeira’s father-in-law, past FIFA president Havelange, accused of pocketing huge kickbacks on football contracts.
And Adidas, who pay big sponsor bucks, are unhappy that Nike – who pay nothing to FIFA but have huge influence on Ricardo Teixeira and Brazilian football - hope to impose their branding on 2014.
Jerome Champagne was previously FIFA deputy general secretary and then in charge of international relations. He did his career no good by opposing Blatter hiring conman, debt-dodger and self-styled spindoctor Peter Hargitay to lie to reporters and with his son Stevie deploy their Zurich-based ABI detective agency to spy on FIFA staff and external critics.
The Hargitays now provide ‘special services’ to Australian billionaire Frank Lowy and his bid to host the world Cup in 2018 or 2022. They are also on the payroll of millionaire Mohamed Bin Hammam from Qatar and ran his poisonous smear campaign last year that succeeded in re-electing him as president of the Asian Football Confederation.
Champagne, a former French diplomat and multi-linguist, is also being scape-goated for fronting FIFA’s farcical ‘6 +5’ attempts to persuade the European Union to break their own laws and limit the number of foreign players in club sides. Champagne has paid the price for loyally following Blatter’s instructions.
Over the last few years Blatter has remorselessly sacked a succession of senior officials and press officers, ensuring there is nobody working any longer at FIFA who remembers the good old days when bribes were even delivered to his office at FIFA HQ!
Despite – or because of - his brutality, greed and double-dealing Blatter is weaker then ever. If he cannot resolve the growing problems of fans not being able to afford to travel to this year’s World Cup - his may be the next head on the block.