FIFA still in turmoil

The financial dealings of FIFA get murkier with each passing day. More officials are dragged in the net and swords are drawn out as everyone tries to save themselves. By Brian Glanville.

As one executive betrays another, can it be that FIFA, that infamously dysfunctional organisation, is falling apart at last? We have already had the CONCACAF fall out with Chuck Blazer, general secretary and number two, suddenly blowing the whistle on Jack Warner, his President and till then cherished ally, contriving to force him out of office on the back of Bin Hammam's thwarted attempt to bribe Caribbean leaders in his quest for the FIFA presidency. Followed not long after by the surprising resignation of Chuck Blazer himself. Quite what the tangled motivation for this may have been, we can but surmise. But we do know that a while ago, both Blazer and the present FIFA chief executive, Jerome Valcker, were scathingly accused as liars by a woman judge in a New York court, when endeavouring to squeeze Mastercard out of its long term World Cup finals deal with FIFA in favour of Visa. It didn't harm either of them. Blazer was untouched, Valcker was soon after promoted to his present role.

Far more significant and potentially devastating is the decision by the embattled FIFA president Sepp Blatter at long last to release the publication of Swiss court documents, revealing the huge bribes paid by the now defunct ISL organisation to FIFA officials in return for marketing rights. It was in June 2010 that the Swiss courts ruled that FIFA officials had been bribed though obscurely, the names of the culprits were withheld on payment of a GBP3.9 million fine.

The cat in fact had come out of the bag in 1998, when by a bizarre mischance a standard form from the USB bank arrived at the desk of FIFA's finance director, detailing the transfer of a million Swiss francs into a FIFA account; including the payee's name. He being a senior FIFA executive and the payment being a plain bribe. Struggling to keep afloat ISL effectively doomed themselves in 1999 with a crazy $1.2 billion contract for 10 years with world tennis.

Now, sensationally, it seems that Blatter was about to expose the malfeasances of none other than his own mentor Joao Havelange who as the autocratic and deeply suspect president of FIFA from 1974 to 1998, had colossally enriched himself and arguably poisoned the wells of the game. Havelange and the ineffable Ricardo Teixeira, once his son-in-law, now both have the finger pointed at them by Blatter. Just as Teixeira, who has stayed in power at the Brazilian Confederation for a decade and a half, presides in his office over the World Cup 2014 meeting in Rio.

You might call the notoriously anti English Teixeira a survivor. His whole lucrative career risen from the ashes of bankruptcy and commercial failure, was owed to Havelange. Summed up neatly by a former top executive Guido Tognoni: “Ricardo Teixeira's most remarkable talent is that he is the son-in-law of Havelange.” Teixeira has said that Havelange taught him all he knows about football. His involvement in its television rights having made him hugely wealthy after his earlier failures. Significantly, when Havelange stepped down as head of the Brazilian Football Federation, a deficit of millions of dollars was found while Teixeira himself has been charged with tax evasion of thousands of dollars.

Now however the Brazilian authorities, frustrated in the past, have zeroed in on him and his dealings which is very bad news for FIFA, too. Till now, Teixeira, who took a couple of plane loads of leading Brazilian judges, lawyers and attorneys to the 1994 World Cup finals, even survived the scandal of the team's victorious return to Rio airport with nine tonnes of undeclared goods. In 1998, a frustrated Dr. Maria Emilia Arauto, told David Yallop, author of the alarming ‘How they Stole the Game', that part of the cargo probably consisted of narcotics. Teixeira, she said, “Is very well connected by the Accounts Tribunal of the state.” But it may not be enough to protect him now.

Yet there could be more embarrassment for Blatter and company to come from Jack Warner, his former bosom buddy, to whom in the past he addressed so many affectionate messages, and to whom and his Trinidad Federation he granted exceptional privileges, among them huge so called loans which seem never to have been repaid, is now swearing revenge for his exclusion from FIFA. Warner was suspended for doling out money in Bin Hammam's attempt to buy CONCACAF presidential votes.

He, who must know where a plethora of bodies are buried, now swears vengeance while muttering somewhat incoherently that “Zionism is the most important reason why this attack was mounted.” Zionism? He threatens to speak, of “gifts” made by Blatter in his most recent, finally unopposed, presidential campaign. Having collided with Bin Hammam in $40 thousand bungs offered to Caribbean delegates, to promote Bin Hammam's abortive presidential campaign.

But the most dramatic aspect of the whole sordid business is surely that the finger should at last be pointed at Havelange, under whose devious regime FIFA became a source of scandal and corruption. In 1998, Havelange abandoned the presidency as a very wealthy man. He didn't need an official salary.