FIFA “FOUL!” kicks up a fuss!

A new book by British “investigative sports reporter” Andrew Jennings, called “FOUL! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals”, has kicked up a fuss just days ahead of the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, reports The Times.  The book is critical of FIFA, and its “corruption and greed”.  

Jennings is one of few, if not the only, journalist to be banned from FIFA media conferences, having focused on sport corruption reporting for the last thirty years.  He started his “stirring” with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Chairman Juan Antonio Samaranch, having discovered his political past during the Second World War, leading to three books on the subject, and 5 days in a Swiss jail.

The IOC and FIFA shared the same marketing company, International Sport and Leisure, and this led Jennings to investigate FIFA, amid allegations of bribery by the marketing company to secure marketing contracts and television broadcast rights, with kickbacks to FIFA, before it went into liquidation.  

As far as the South African bid for the 2010 World Cup goes, Jennings alleges that Jack Warner, a FIFA executive from Trinidad and Tobago, wanted one thing above all – access to Nelson Mandela, and he was only prepared to vote for our country if his wish came true!   Jennings is disparaging of Warner, and his debt to the 2006 World Cup team from these two countries, who still have not been paid, it is alleged, despite a British court order to this effect. 

The FIFA ticketing and accommodation agency MATCH has not escaped Jennings’ eagle eye, and he blames MATCH for “… has milked the fans”, particlarly given the world’s economic recession, which meant they could not afford the excessive cost of the hospitality packages MATCH was selling.  FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s nephew Philippe Blatter is a director of MATCH.   “Not even the American wholesaler could sell the overpriced hospitality packages.  For Match it was just greed, greed, greed”, he writes.  “What matters is the percentage of the commissions they make.  So they push the prices higher to make it a bigger commission.  But the corporates won’t spend money in this economic climate”.

Jennings cynically states that there was never a shortage of tickets to the matches as we were led to believe at one stage, and that South African municipalities are buying tickets “because we have to believe there is a scarcity value; there has been a political move to cover up the scandal. Blatter is dishing out tickets to the unemployed – you are going to get screwed” he added.  He goes on to allege that any profits that FIFA makes will go to the FIFA official headquarters in Zurich.   The Local Organising Committee receives a lashing as well :”Officials and the government have sold South Africa down the river”.  His final parting shot: “..after the final whistle blows, South Africans have nothing to look forward to but a mountain of scandal, debt and  – in our shiny new, expensive stadiums – some rather large white elephants”!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

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