Photo of Philippe Blatter

Philippe Blatter: Both hands in the honeypot

Corporate logo for Swiss-based sports marketing company Infront

 

Corporate logofor ART satellite TV company

 

Corporate logo for Match Hospitality company

 

Photo of Jerome Valcke

Jérôme Valcke alone with his sponsors

Corporate logo for Byrom plc

 

Photo of Jaime Byrom

Jaime Byrom: Each time my slice is about this big

Photo of Philip Chiyangwa

Philip Chiyangwa: MATCH is good to him

 

 

 

 

 

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 fifa.com


 

 

Keeping it in the Blatter family

 

 

 

Whoever takes home the World Cup trophy, young Mr Blatter expects to be a winner. That’s Philippe Blatter, nephew of FIFA supremo Sepp Blatter.

 

President Blatter enthuses about the ‘family of FIFA’ and he practices what he preaches. The most lucrative business opportunities at the World Cup go to a small group of businessmen and now his nephew Philippe Blatter is getting his share.

 

Philippe has been the boss of Infront, a Swiss-based sports marketing company, since 2006. An important shareholder is billionaire Saudi banker Sheikh Salih Kamel, who put his wealth behind President Blatter’s re-election in 2002. The Sheikh also owns ART, a satellite TV company, delivering exclusive sports programming and the FIFA World Cup to the Arab world.

 

The Infront company chooses to base itself in the Zug offices that previously housed FIFA’s former marketing partner the ISL company until it went bust in 2001.

 

ISL had the exclusive contract to film the World Cup for the world’s television networks. Infront has inherited this contract. ISL controlled the archive of World Cup films that command high fees from broadcasters. Infront has also inherited this business.

 

In the spring of 2008 embarrassed ISL executives admitted in court paying an amazing $100 million in bribes to sports officials, mostly at FIFA, in return for lucrative contracts. One was for rights to sell World Cup TV to broadcasters, earning a reported commission of 25%.

 

That deal has also been inherited by Philippe Blatter’s Infront – in partnership with the Japanese Dentsu advertising and marketing agency. In 2008 a Dentsu executive was accused of taking more than £2 million in kickbacks from ISL.

 

It’s a small world of big football profits. Dentsu are also partnering Infront this year in the specially created MATCH Hospitality company.  FIFA has given them world-wide rights to sell travel, hotels, 380,000 tickets, catering and ‘hostess services’ to wealthy fans travelling to South Africa. The European concession has gone to the Sportfive company, former employer of FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke.

 

The majority shareholders in MATCH are the Mexican brothers Jaime and Enrique Byrom, associates of former FIFA president Joao Havelange, who have been trading in precious tickets since the 1986 World Cup.

 

The Byroms’ Manchester-based company now controls the majority of FIFA’s ticket and accommodation business. They were big in 2002 and 2006, have World Cup ticketing for this year and again in Brazil in 2014.

 

It has never been explained how the Byroms allowed FIFA vice-president Jack Warner to acquire around 6,000 tickets for the Germany World Cup, making millions of dollars profits.

 

Some brokers predict a flood of cheap tickets dumped on the market this summer. They say that sponsors, whose clients fear South Africa’s violent image, are taking up less than 40% of the 550,000 they’ve been granted. In past years tickets allocated to sponsors have ended up on the street.

 

One of the many ticketing scandals of 2006 was the selling of Zimbabwe’s allocation to a former FIFA employee. He is fireproof; he worked in FIFA’s finance department and knows FIFA’s tightest secret - how much money Sepp Blatter trousers every year.

 

The franchise to sell this year’s allocation of tickets for Zimbabwe has been awarded by MATCH to Philip Chiyangwa, a relative of President Robert Mugabe who claims to have already sold $600,000 worth of VIP hospitality packages.

ENDS

 

 

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