By Tony Attwood
Ain’t it annoying when the Untold headline writer (which is me actually) starts to crow about how clever Untold is, outwitting all the UK’s media with a story five months before it happens.
But give me my moment of pleasure, because it can take hours, days, weeks, months, to track down some of these stories and work out which ones are going to make us look clever and which ones will come back to haunt us.
So today spare a moment for this story from 22 January 2015:
It reports a change in the law in Switzerland in December (OK we were late but got there in the end) which the rest of our wonderful hard-working press missed. A “change to the law in Switzerland, which allows the authorities to scrutinise bank accounts held by sporting governing bodies and their leaders.” Not many places in the UK ran this story.
Fifa knew this was happening, for as we pointed out at the time, “Fifa’s own anti-corruption adviser Mark Pieth made the point that Switzerland had become “pirate’s harbour” and urged the country to clean up its act in order for Fifa and the IOC to clean up theirs.”
One mistake I did make in that report however was to grant Fifa execs more intelligence than they have, when I said…
Fifa uses Switzerland to host World Cup votes, so that could be fun – but watch out for them to say that it is only fair that they take the voting around the world. The IOC has already shifted the 2017 vote for Olympic venues to Peru.
Actually I am going to crow about that one, because that was me, and it was nearly right – the execs of Fifa have gathered in Switzerland today to vote (although not on the world cup) and the Swiss authorities have started to arrest them.
The origins of all this activity is the FBI investigation into Chuck Blazer and Fifa corruption on US soil. As Untold said on 16 November 2014
Meanwhile the FA is rejecting criticisms in the released Fifa summary report saying that a £35,000 dinner for Caribbean officials had been specifically cleared by Fifa…
I’ll come back to the position of the FA in a moment, but just to put some other pieces in place, this comes from 19 March 2014.
the FBI is now investigating both the Clan Warner – and its Grand Cayman bank accounts, and the bidding process.
Warner resigned from Fifa in 2011 after a previous round of bribery revelations. Mr Bin Hammam, a rival to Sepp Blatter for the Fifa throne was then banned from football in retaliation – a ban that was overthrown by the CAS for lack of evidence. Then Fifa banned him again in 2012.
As for the latest today, here’s what I am currently reading from Associated Press
Six officials have been arrested and detailed by Swiss Police pending extradition to the US. They are all attending the Fifa congress and presidential election. The arch-demon Blatter has not been arrested.
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement that US authorities suspect the six officials of having received or paid bribes totalling millions of dollars and that the crimes were agreed to and prepared in the US, and payments carried out via US banks.
The FOJ statement says…
“The bribery suspects representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to the soccer functionaries and other functionaries of Fifa sub-organisations totalling more than US$100m. In return, it is believed that they received media, marketing, and sponsorship rights in connection with soccer tournaments in Latin America.”
The Guardian this morning is saying that people elsewhere are being taken into custody – not just in Switzerland.
And the FA – well the FA has knowingly cavorted and cozied up to the Fifa crooks, despite having been given vast amounts of evidence to the effect that they were crooks. And they have continued to do so. Maybe someone should arrest all the FA bigwigs too.
More anon, but first I need some breakfast.
(I hope you are enjoying this one just 1% as much as I am – if so, watch out for people who say, “And what are you grinning about?” Sorry, I can’t stop).
My special thanks to everyone who has fed Untold with information on this story over the past two years.