Photo courtesy of Swiss TV

Photo of Investigating Magistrate - Thomas Hildbrand

Mr Clean - The Untouchable:
Investigating Magistrate Hildbrand

 

Photo of Sepp Blatter and Julio Grondona

No Worries! Sepp Blatter and FIFA's Finance
Committee Chairman Julio Grondona

 

Photo of Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner

Blatter shows Warner:
'This is where we've hidden the money'

 

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


 

The Untouchable in pursuit
of The Unspeakable

A shiver will likely shimmy down Sepp Blatter’s spine at 10.30 tomorrow morning - three years to the minute since Swiss fraud squad detectives burst through his Zurich office door waving a search warrant.

 

The police, investigating allegations of misuse of FIFA funds, were seeking incriminating documents. A report is expected to go to prosecutors in the New Year. The raid is understood to have been conducted under Article 158 of the Swiss Penal Code which carries penalties of up to five years jail.

 

The raid was triggered by the collapse of a Swiss company that over nearly three decades had defeated all rivals to acquire FIFA’s lucrative World Cup marketing rights. The liquidator, Thomas Bauer from Ernst & Young, dug into the company’s bank records and discovered that a gigantic £70 million worth of kickbacks had gone to sports officials.

 

When Bauer demanded that some FIFA officials repay their bribes a bank account set up by Sepp Blatter’s lawyer channelled more than £1 million back to creditors. Investigating magistrate Thomas Hildbrand, who led the raid, is probing allegations that FIFA money was used to repay the bribes. FIFA has never admitted that it is the target of a complex corruption investigation.

 

In June 2006, on the eve of the World Cup, I confronted Blatter at Zurich airport and asked him, ‘Why did FIFA pay back the bribes?’ Blatter declined to answer. The BBC filmed the exchange and it was screened world-wide. Blatter didn’t sue.

 

If charged, Blatter would have to resign the FIFA presidency, to be followed speedily by Julio Grondona and Jack Warner, chair and deputy of FIFA’s finance committee. The tectonic plates of world football would shift and the subsequent quake throw up new leadership – and require new strategies for countries such as England bidding to stage the 2018 World Cup.

 

FIFA’s reputation is deteriorating in Switzerland. In the spring of this year six marketing executives, some of whom organised paying the bribes to FIFA officials, went on trial accused of embezzling money due to FIFA. The court cleared most of them but ruled that FIFA had misled the police and ordered it to pay £57,000 towards the costs of the investigation.

 

Watch the fortunes of the wondrous new Westfield shopping mall that opened last Thursday at Shepherds Bush in West London. If shoppers feeling the pinch stay away, will the developer Frank Lowy – controversial billionaire chair of the Australian football federation and new favourite of Sepp Blatter - be able to raise the cash to build his other planned mall in London, the £1.5 billion Olympic Gateway in Stratford, East London? It’s a key part of the 2012 Olympic site.

 

In early July, before the banks stopped lending, Lowy was Gordon’s Brown’s guest at Downing Street for a ceremonial signing of the Olympic contract to build 300 shops.

 

 

 

Herr Blatter's Unhappy anniversary

 

 

 

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