Having shagged his way through the female staff (as did his something-of-the-night predecessor, nonogenarian Joao Havelange), and now abandoned by his Polish girlfriend, Sepp Blatter will be on the make in Joburg, pilled up and looking for do-it-my-way partners, hoping Teazers has reopened under new management, any management, who cares.
Herr Blatter’s special contribution to transparency at the world game (don’t ask what he trousers in pay, bonuses, allowances and perks – he won’t say) is to be the sole voice at FIFA press conferences. That saves time and risk of dissent. The other 23 members of his Executive Committee (ExCo) disperse, leaving him to give his selective version of decisions. The minutes are forever secret, so you have to trust Sepp. And never call him “Herr”. He hates it and demands to be addressed as “President Blatter” – so he can reply: “The FIFA President thinks...”.
If things are going badly Herr Blatter will summon general secretary Jerome Valcke to shoulder blame. How Jerome got the job is a mystery. Formerly marketing chief, he was fired in late 2006 after FIFA were denounced as a bunch of liars by a New York judge and had to pony up $90m to MasterCard for pissing on their contract.
Herr Blatter soon brought Valcke back – and I have to wonder about that private letter in my archive, which Blatter wrote a decade ago, accusing Valcke of blackmail: did that help get him shortlisted for the top job?
Occasionally Herr Blatter brings in finance committee chief, turkey-wobble-chin Don Julio Grondona, who entertains Argentine TV audiences with gems like “Jews? They don’t like hard work – that’s why we have no Jewish referees in our Premier League”. Nowadays Julio maintains he doesn’t understand English – so why he attends press fests is a mystery.
Keeping football in their family is the tradition of Brazil’s ExCo member “Tricky” Ricardo Teixeira, son-in-law of gimlet-eyed Joao Havelange. Sometime, somewhere, the daughter/wife was mislaid – but hey, those guys are tight as ever.
Silver-haired Tricky Ricky ignored the 2003 Brazilian Congressional investigation of his Confederation of Brazilian Football with its verdict: “a den of crime”. The next World Cup, in 2014, is his to plunder – if he ever gets round to building the venues.
Further round the ExCo boardroom table is Amos Adamu, the delegate from Nigeria, who, after two decades controlling his country’s sports budgets, can boast of being the richest civil servant in the land. You can’t think why? President Yar’Adua figured it: After a letter from his sports minister about Adamu’s career, laced with words like “corruption”, he sacked the bugger.
But hey, that Prezzie’s dead, and Amos in his new career is so beloved by Herr Blatter, that his son Samson, purely on merit, has the Nigeria concession for selling FIFA’s corporate hospitality packages to this year’s footie extravaganza in South Africa. Samson is a graduate of FIFA’s sport management college. Is that where budding FIFA executives learn how to prise open a well-stuffed envelope?
Samson and his poppa share the same address: 61 Amos Adamu Close, Lagos. Really. Maybe after this month’s footiefest Amos will make time to complete the overdue accounts for the 2003 All-Africa Games in Abuja.
There’ll likely be a tepid welcome for African football supremo and ExCo member Issa Hayatou who, concerned to save the Togo team from further trauma after the Cabinda shooting, thoughtfully banned them from future editions of the Nations Cup.
Indeed Issa is a compassionate fellow. Look on his African Confederation’s website and you’ll see he’s given employment to otherwise unemployable Jean-Marie Weber, aka The Bagman, named in a Swiss court two years ago for laundering around $100m-worth of kickbacks in return for marketing contracts. Yes; $100m. Gimlet-eyed Joao got a big bite of that.
Joining Jean-Marie around the table of the Confederation’s marketing committee are Amiable Amos and Leo Mugabe, who learned how to get rich at the knee of his uncle. Another Mugabe kinsman is Phillip “Tsivo” Chiyangwa, who has the Zimbabwe concession for 2010 hospitality packages. He should make a killing.
An old chum of Herr Weber is FIFA ExCo member Franz Beckenbauer. When he gave up playing, Franz set up Rofa, an obscure little company in the secretive Swiss town of Sarnen. It was used to warehouse the amazing marketing rights being obtained from FIFA, the IOC and international athletics. In time the rights moved elsewhere and Franz became an untouchable hero in Germany.
Herr Beckenbauer is a possible contender to replace Herr Blatter, should the cops or a Zurich tram get him. Hopefully the crown will go to Monsieur Michel Platini, who has woven his wonderful career around the bags of swag available to the less principled. Another acceptable candidate would be Qatar’s ExCo man Mohamed Bin Hammam, so astonishingly wealthy that he can’t be bribed.
Never a contender is England’s FIFA vice-president Geoff Thompson, so silent he never comes up on Google News Alerts. Geoff’s clean of course, but seems unable to speak to the corruption around him. Nearly as quiet is Russia’s Vitaly Mutko. He’s the one with the worried pallor, and he may yet seek political asylum in South Africa at the close of play. Boss of Bosses Vladimir Putin has told him not to come home unless he has the votes to get Russia World Cup hosting rights in 2018.
Vitaly’s problem is that although there will be all the money needed to pay bribes, some of these FIFA buggers will take the money – then vote for a rival. If Russia is snubbed, watch out for some polonium poisonings between the decision in early December and Christmas Day.
Completing this trip around FIFA’s boardroom table is the irredeemably corrupt Jack Warner and his two-man backing band. Where to start with Warner? His World Cup ticket rackets? He’s been running them since 1989, makes off with millions of dollars, and Herr Blatter, always getting Jack’s regional 35 votes in presidential elections, is content.
Those wonderful guys, Trinidad’s Soca Warriors, the smallest nation in 2006 ever to qualify for the World Cup, are not. Jack and son Daryll set up a private company to divert the income from TV rights, ticket sales, sponsors and grants from FIFA and Government.
Four years later, the Warners still won’t pay it over to the rightful bene-ficiaries. They owe the team more than £1m. They’ve lost an arbitration hearing but ignore it. They ignore the booing from fans back home. Let’s hope fans at the World Cup up the boo rate every time they see Jack and sons Daryan and Darryl – who is now a FIFA development officer, with power to do what he wants with bucketloads of FIFA cash. Expect light-touch auditing.
Jack presides over the Caribbean, North and Central American confederation. Carrying his bags is Chuck Blazer, general secretary and Treasurer. Think about it. Chuck is also on the Exco, as is another silent bag-carrier, Rafael Salguero from Guatemala. Jack helps them decide how to vote.
Enjoying vacations in South Africa is a legion of little-known FIFA functionaries and freeloaders. Meet Michal Listkiewicz, formerly boss of Polish football. He introduced Herr Blatter to his former girlfriend, rejects tabloid suggestions they “shared” her, and is busy making sure that FIFA’s referees committee is seen to be honest.
That may be a struggle; Listkiewicz was sacked last year and is currently indicted back home for corruption. Meanwhile 300 Polish referees and players are indicted for match fixing. Perhaps Michal will pick up some integrity tips from the man who sits next to him, Tricky Ricky.
Another key member of the FIFA Morality Police is Jamaica’s Horace Burrell. At a FIFA congress a dozen years ago he slipped his girlfriend in to vote in place of a missing delegate from Haiti. Absolute breach of FIFA rules, but Jack wanted it and Herr Blatter agreed. This may explain why Horace qualifies to be on the disciplinary committee, judging players’ behaviour during the World Cup. He has also been gazetted as an “ambassador” for the tournament – and who knows what that means?
Off the pitch there’s another tight team at FIFA’s internal audit committee. It’s headed by Franco Carraro, handpicked in 1982 by deeply corrupt former president Juan Antonio Samaranch to join the IOC. Franco used to head up Italian football but resigned at the beginning of the current and seemingly never-ending match-fixing scandals.
Keeping Franco company is Justino José Fernandes, head of Angola’s soccer federation, a former governor of Luanda and given to locking up critical reporters. Another fellow at Internal Audit with exhaustive knowledge of football finances is Brazil’s José Carlos Salim, who cannot have enjoyed the references to him in the Congressional report examining Tricky Ricky’s embedded corruption.
But they are doing it all for South Africa. You knew that, didn’t you?
- Photo credits Leo Mugabe: zimeye.org; Chuck Blazer: Getty Images; Franco Carraro: globoesporte.com; all other pictures: Fifa.org.
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