How much does Blatter rip off from FIFA?
March 18, 2003
By Andrew Jennings
It’s FIFA’s most tightly guarded secret: How much does Sepp Blatter pay himself each year? He refuses to say, giving credibility to whispers from FIFA’s Finance Department that he pockets around $4 million a year. He doesn’t pay tax on this – FIFA pays it for him.
On 18 March 2003 I published a newspaper story revealing that Blatter paid himself a huge annual bonus. I had obtained an affidavit sworn a year earlier by former FIFA Finance Director Erwin Schmid in which he confirmed the bonus – and that it had been backdated to 1997.
The affidavit did nor specify the amount of the bonus but sources within FIFA told me they believed it was approximately £250,000.
Blatter responded fast to publication. At dawn that day he announced at the top of the Home Page of fifa.com that he was going to sue me and the newspaper. His press release said my story was ‘fiction.’
Why did he react so fast?
Blatter had to close this story down – fast. When rich organisations like FIFA claim that a story is ‘fiction’ and that their lawyers are taking action - it frightens the rest of the media. The threat worked and no other reporters in the world have dared to repeat my story. It has become taboo. Six years later no media in the world dares to mention Sepp’s secret bonus.
But Herr Blatter did not sue. His lawyers did not file suit. It was bluff.
Blatter was additionally infuriated because my story, published in the two million-plus circulation Daily Mail, completely overshadowed a media stunt set up by his ‘Special Advisor’ and dirty tricks operative Peter Hargitay in a London Hotel.
Cynically exploiting anxieties about the imminence of war in Iraq they invited a list of ‘prominent figures from business, the arts, politics and sports business and sought to identify ways in which sport, and in particular football, could help to defuse social and political tension.’
Empty seats were hurriedly filled with friends of Hargitay and the keynote speaker was Government Minister Charles Clarke. There’s more in my book.
Nobody noticed. It didn’t rate a mention in any media.
Following publication of my ‘secret bonus’ story Blatter’s Director of Communications Markus Siegler banned me from FIFA press conferences. I guess this is because they were – and still are – frightened of me producing in public more examples from my huge collection of confidential FIFA documents that would interest other reporters – and reveal that President Blatter is not always as transparent as he claims to be.
Siegler emailed me:
‘We have taken note of your e-mail requesting an accreditation for the media conference on finances on 8 April.
I just want to inform you that we decline your request and that we will not grant you access to our premises.’
At that press conference AP reporter Erica Bulman asked Blatter about his salary. She reported:
‘In other matters, Blatter once again refused to reveal his salary, saying current FIFA statutes prevented him from doing so, but added his previous yearly income of 1 to 1.2 million francs (US$720,000 to US$865,000) was going to be decreased on his request. He assured reporters that his salary would be disclosed at a later date.’
Six years later, Blatter still hasn’t disclosed. I remain the only reporter in the world banned by FIFA.