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October 2016
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It should not just be Fifa on trial, but the FA and their media allies also.

By Tony Attwood

We’ve often moaned about the media’s lack of coverage of corruption in football, and their endless desire to paint everything from PGMO to Fifa as whiter than white.

But what about the sponsors of Fifa, who have known how corrupt and awful the whole operation has been all these years?

Doesn’t anyone – the journalists, the sponsors, the broadcast stations, actually care that they are endlessly talking up an appalling corrupt organisation.

As might be expected Fifa sponsors, such as Adidas, Visa and Coca-Cola, are calling for Fifa to reform.  Visa issued a statement on Wednesday expressing its “disappointment and concern with Fifa”.   Oh dear.

It said that unless Fifa rebuilds a corporate culture with “strong ethical practices” at its heart, “we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship”.

And will that make us reform our view of Visa?  No, I think not.  Better to remind ourselves of who the Fifa sponsors are, so we can know how much contempt we have been treated with and by whom.   In my view, if you take from Fifa or give to Fifa you are tainted.

Here’s the list

Adidas, Coca-Cola, Emirates, Hyundai, Sony, Visa, Castrol, Continental, McDonalds, Johnson and Johnson.

Coca-Cola said: “This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the Fifa World Cup and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations.”

Yes and I say, fine, so why didn’t you do something?   McDonald’s, meanwhile, said it was monitoring the situation but was too fat and too ill actually to move.

In a sense the sponsors, like the journalists and the FA have both been totally caught off guard for the simple reason that treating us, the fans, the people who pay to go and watch football, with utter and constant contempt.

As I have noted the key point in all this was a change in the law in Switzerland which allowed the arrests to happen.  Quite possibly it was the fact that journalists universally refused to or failed to recognise the huge significance of that change in the law which encouraged Fifa executives to think that they could get away with another booze up in Geneva.

The fact is that until now Fifa executives have been immune.  Governments bowed down to their insane demands about no taxation for any activity surrounding the World Cup, assocations like the FA threw away millions of pounds bidding for the World Cup, and all the time the media utterly refused to call our FA to account for the way they continue to court Fifa.

And all the while the broadcasters and journalists have reported on Fifa activities with glee.  Instead of saying, “the football is good but Fifa is disgraceful, disgusting and something else starting with d that I can’t think of at the moment”, they have endlessly talked up Fifa and its products.

A walk out by countries has always been possible, but the thought of bathing in the pig sty with Blatter and co was always too much of an inducement.  They always wanted one more handbag, one more gold watch, one more champagne event.  At our expense.

So the media, despite occasionally pointing out Fifa excesses, always refused to follow up the implications of Fifa’s eternal outrages, because the FA were involved, and they all wanted another holiday covering the world cup in some exotic resort.

Indeed it can be argued that the few commentaries that there were against Fifa (such as the regular pieces in the Observer under the “Said and Done” column harmed the work of those of us who have campaigned against Fifa, but somehow making it all seem ok and normal.  The corruption was there, everyone knew, it became acceptable.

This was probably why no one picked up on our story about the change in Swiss law.  There was an absolute belief that nothing would change, nothing would happen, it wouldn’t really mean anything.

Besides, who cares if a bunch of young women were thrown in prison in South Africa without even being subject to local laws, all for wearing the wrong t-shirts?  Who cares if the stadia in South Africa and Brazil rot, empty.  Shall we make a big fuss?  No, better not.   We did – I remember Walter’s outrage at the case on 15 June 2010.  It is worth re-reading, if you’ve forgotten it.

So we have had years of self-censorship, or occasionally tittle tattle.

Just look at the stories that were doing the rounds just before the arrests were made.  “Fifa’s president, Sepp Blatter, has refused to set foot in the US for almost four years due to a continuing investigation by the FBI, according to a major new ESPN documentary.”  (The Guardian, 13 May)

The Guardian actually did have an insight into what might be up, as they published, “Sources have also told the Guardian that US investigators have been in touch with Swiss prosecutors over their investigation,” but they just couldn’t be arsed to read Untold and find the magic link – the change in Swiss law that allowed the Americans to request the arrests.

The “Blatter won’t go to America” was a ludicrous story because it was palpably irrelevant once the Swiss law was changed – but hey, finding out about the law change meant reading one little blog, or else keeping an eye on world events, and who is going to do that?

But that’s the problem.  Once a story like “Blatter won’t go” gets going, what do they all do?  Do they investigate?  No of course not.  They copy each other.

It became in fact quite a prominant story around the world.   “Blatter to Visit US in 2016, Rejects Talk of Avoiding FBI …” said ABC News, and the story filtered down to a few other media outlets.   Bleacher Report went with Sepp Blatter Reportedly Wary of Entering United States while Sky got in on the act with FIFA insist president Sepp Blatter is not avoiding travel to …  Fox News seemed to get an exclusive insight with FIFA president Blatter plans visit US in June 2016,  but they were probably just on another planet.

We all knew Blatter would not go to the US unless he could get sworn documentation that he and his entourage were not going to be arrested, and they knew also that every other country other than the US had a government and a football governing body that was utterly petrified of Fifa.  England has been one of the worst, but it is not alone at endlessly bending the knee to Fifa, playing by its rules, playing in its tournaments.
In between all this let us not forget that the Swiss attorney general has announced it is now questioning 10 Fifa executives who took part in voting on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids. A statement says criminal proceedings have opened “against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 football World Cups”.
And what is England’s response to that?

The Independent has tried to cover its failure to spot what was going on in advance with the utterly bizarre headline ENGLAND ‘FAVOURITES’ TO HOST 2018 WORLD CUP – a headline that thankfully has little to do with the story that follows.

They also give us the headline “Why have these arrests happened now?” and then provide the utterly astonishing response, “Because enough important people were gathered in one place.”

Errrrrr?  Law change?

But the fact is, as The New York Times notes, Fifa has $1.5bn in reserves.  It is a financial institution, and that makes it worth chasing.   There is no doubt at all that a lot of its corrupt fortunes have moved through London banks as well as US institutions, so we (the British) could have gone after Fifa, but no.  The FA wanted another pot shot at the World Cup.

And in one sense that is not a bad thing because prosecutors in the US can apparently take a single email sent as a part of a criminal act and see that as “wire fraud”.  20 years inside for that.  Send another one and that’s another 20.  Send out half a dozen and you are banged up to eternity.

Which brings us to the other weapon that America has in its fight against money laundering, fraud and other crimes – the dollar. US regulators force foreign banks to aid their investigations through the simple ploy of saying that if they don’t they can’t trade in the US.

What is interesting is that Justice Department now treat Fifa as they treat the Mafia and the drug cartels.  And this is the body that the FA is still bowing down to, still sending out young men to play in competitions organised by this Mafia family.


“This is the beginning of our effort, not the end,” said Kelly T. Currie, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York referring perhaps to the 25 unnamed co-conspirators.  “We are looking into individuals and entities in a variety of countries.”

We can only hope that somewhere in the midst of their own urgent cover up of their inability to spot this coming, and their own endless bowing down to Fifa, that the British media, and their chums in the FA, start to realise the contempt with which they are held for having supported Fifa and all its doings for so long.


Sorry if you have been trying to get onto the Arsenal History Site and the anniversary files of late – we have had some technical problems.  Hopefully you will find this site, and all the others we run, back in business.

And here’s another anniversary…

28 May 1937: Reg Lewis made first senior appearance in a friendly v Copenhagen and scored twice as Arsenal won 4-1.  His scoring knack continued through his time at Arsenal and he ended his career with 103 league goals in 154 games

41 comments to It should not just be Fifa on trial, but the FA and their media allies also.

  • Pete

    Platini’s press conference is dynamite. Explicitly says that UEFA could pull out of FIFA if Blatter doesn’t go.

  • nicky

    The evil that is FIFA has spread throughout the world of football and ipso facto has tainted many, if not most, of the associations charged with the governance of the game.
    The momentum which is gathering pace must not be allowed to be diverted from its aim to remove the heads of the corrupt body, starting with Blatter.
    It follows that FIFA’s records will expose other national associations are involved in corruption and these should also be investigated and the guilty weeded out.
    It is of vital importance that the opportunity is now taken to rid the Federation of all its criminal aspects once and for all.

  • Micheal Ram

    I think the timing of the arrests is perfect. As a man of law, I know the importance of collecting enough evidence to legally prosecute a criminal without the risk of unjust acquittal. I’m sure the FBI know the accused has no way to run. Now, the election is useless and forever be tainted no matter what the outcome is. I have a feeling that the FBI is saving the best for Blatter, just like the way they wiped off the mafias in USA with the RICO law.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    The Banality of Greed…how long before these rats flee to places without extradition treaties?

  • Super Singh

    Forget FIFA, we all recognise a Turd when we see one? It’s tha FA and the Referees That need investigating?

  • bjtgooner

    Excellent article Tony.

    There is no doubt the international press was turning the blind eye to long term ongoing corruption – centered around FIFA but involving many of the national associations.

    One of the bribery allegations involved television rights – is that why the media did a Nelson re the ongoing corruption?

    Also – re Russia 2018 allegations – I similarly wonder if anyone we might know was “assisting” the Russian bid.

    It will be interesting to see if any of the national associations fall foul (pun intended) of the present investigations, of if they are relatively immune from US and Swiss law.

    Lets hope investigations spread to the FA and the subsequently to the PGMO!!

  • Tom Whittaker

    I know it’s a bit of a sub-plot at this point, but I hope America doesn’t use this as part of its’ aim to be the ‘world police’. Putin has taken this angle (usually he’s a bit more tactical with the timing of his remarks, but then the media is equally tactical with their translations…). Don’t get me wrong, Russian government is as bad as the US in my eyes (they may not bomb the crap out of as many Arabs, but they’ve got their own skeleton-stuffed closets), but I think it’s certainly possible this could be used as a USA world police exercise. I mean, how much insider trading and corruption is there in the US government?! Every war they’ve started in my lifetime has been a money-making exercise for Lockheed Martin & Friends, so it is interesting that all this takes place now (on the US side that is, the Swiss made that law change as Tony points out).

    I suppose Putin’s image can’t get any lower over here at this point (unless he starts bombing India or something) so maybe he feels he can use the situation to make the point about the USA, which I think is valid (or vlad? Sorry…). Football is secondary to geopolitics, and whether we like it or not, FIFA is a geopolitical organisation.
    Tony mentioned the mafia above. Why are they given special treatment by governments? Because they have the power to challenge governments. Hell, an Italian mafia family won the security contract for a NATO radar base at one point (check out Michele Zagaria)! So Tony’s comparison of FIFA to the mob is very apt, the only difference is they don’t have a military wing. Blatter not stepping down fits with the image of a mob boss too, ego going down fighting until the end. It’s unbelievable that he hasn’t stepped down until you think about him as a mob boss.

    My god, it’s crazy when there’s actual news on Sky Sports News rather than made up transfer rumours!

  • Matt Clarke

    “the football is good but Fifa is disgraceful, disgusting and something else starting with d that I can’t think of at the moment”,
    How about dishonest? double-dealing?

    A good read Tony – another reason, for me, to read football news here rather than anywhere else.

    Besides FIFA there must be banks involved in laundering their money from bribery.
    This is a big story waiting to expand and the UK press (present company excepted) are still playing catch-up.

  • nicky

    @Tom W,
    Quite amazing that the news of FIFA’s comeuppance is actually overtaking the build-up of the Cup Final in excitement.
    ( BTW,the real Tom Whittaker was a hero of mine, leading Arsenal to the Div 1 Championship on a shoestring in 1947/8).

  • Notoverthehill

    According to the New York Daily News, Saturday, Noverber 1, 2014.

    “The most crucial Olympic ring of the 2012 London Games was a simple keychain, wired for sound and presented to top international soccer executive Chuck Blazer — a cooperating witness for federal law enforcement agents.”


    “Those no doubt shaken by Blazer’s choice to cooperate with investigators include members of FIFA’s powerful executive committee, known as the “Ex-co,” of which Blazer himself was a member from 1996 to 2013.”

    Blatter, is not The Queen!

  • Gord

    This note is about domains, and for the most part I don’t want any of these things turned into clickable links. So, I am turning periods into commas.

    I don’t know how curious people are. There were intentions of having meaningful domains on the Internet. Take ,com it was supposed to be for international commercial operations. Just about every politician in Canada has a .com, and this doesn’t mean they are all up for bribes. Isn’t that the only way for a politician to be commercial?

    In any event, ,org was to be for non-profit organizations, and so on.

    UEFA,com exists, and is the commercial face of UEFA. There is also (or used to be) UEFA,org, which was a different face of UEFA.

    With FIFA, it would appear that while there are a zillion subdomains of fifa,com (such as de,fifa,com for the German version I suppose), there really isn’t a FIFA,org face. But, doing a Google search:

    > Register for the FIFA Media Channel – FIFA,com
    > http-s://extranets,fifa,com/en/registration/mediachannel/ – Cached
    > The FIFA Media Channel is a restricted access web based service of FIFA,com with …
    > In case of questions or problems, please contact mediachannel@fifa,org.

    So there is a FIFA,org, it just doesn’t have a public face.

    But, something new popped up recently.

    > NewFIFANow,org – New FIFA Now
    > – Cached – Similar
    > Home page for the campaign for a new FIFA now. … · Home · Why
    > change? … “We love football, but we abhor, and are embarrassed by, FIFA.” …

    It would seem that someone is trying to replace FIFA. I had never heard any news about this site, On there, is a section WRITE TO FAS. FAS? What does the Federation of Atomic Scientists have to do with this? No, it means FAs (football associations). And you can search for the president of your FA via that page, to write him/her. It has another page on WRITE TO SPONSORS. It has a Charter.

    It has all the appearances of being a site trying to replace the FIFA with something else.

    Media releases go back to January 8, 2015. Newsletter archive is empty.

    They had a summitt back in January:

    > The summit is co-hosted by European MPs Ivo Belet of Belgium and Emma McClarkin of England and convened in conjunction with Damian Collins, MP from England.

    Does anyone else know anything about this?

  • Pat

    @Tom Whitaker

    Thought provoking points. Exactly why I’m concerned. The US as world policeman. A country which bombs countries thousands of miles away, killing civilians with drones. We wouldn’t have thousands of refugees fleeing Libya, Iraq and Syria if it weren’t for the disastrous foreign policy of the US – supported in most cases by Britain.

    Anything that allows the USA to further legitimise itself as world policeman concerns me deeply. So I can’t agree that it doesn’t matter that the FBI has started this process. There will be a motive there that has nothing to do with the moral high ground.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Blatter is toast, he is just going through the motions in some false hope of saving his skin or getting sufficient power to do a deal. As pointed out, the Feds are using tactics they use against the Mafia and Cartels, but the people they have in custody will be nowhere near as hardened or as schooled in resisting interrogation as other branches of organised crime. Blatter will win tomorrow due to his corrupt friends around the world who will cite US imperialism as a force against their benefactor, but his victory will be short lived. The FA have been shameful and will have no part in the victory that is coming, and yes, I am glad it is the tough US justice system rather than the European sit on the fence brigade chasing this bunch. Twenty years, food for thought for middle aged and elderly men.

  • Chris

    I believe that Blatter being a swiss citizen, he cannot be extradited by Switzerland.
    So as long as he stays there or in any country with no extradition treaty with the US he is safe.
    So the change in law would enable swiss prosecutors to act, but he is safe from US prosecutors as long as he stays in Switzerland.
    Marc Rich of IRS fame is another example

    Good work Untold….

  • Mandy Dodd

    I think many have concerns on US foreign policy, but this was born of a domestic issue, with American banks, American currency and offices in Maimi, and hopefully one that, whatever the motives benefits world football.

  • Gunz

    Checking out Andrew Jennings Twitter
    He linked an article on the website.
    Looks very interesting.
    “The only newspaper you can believe on FIFA corruption!”

  • Gunz

    Andrew Jennings (Investigative reporter)

    He links articles on his twitter feed, seems like a site for the “good”.

    He also posted this:
    “I gave the FBI the crucial documents that triggered yesterday’s arrests. There will be more to come. Blatter is a target.”

    “Blatter is a target.” very interesting!

  • Gord

    Thanks Gunz. It would be interesting if more sites recognize this site hoping to stqart a movement to replace FIFA.

  • Al

    Great piece Tony. Hasn’t Emirates and Sony pulled decided not to renew their contracts though? The FA isn’t clean too, they need looking at. The pgmob would even be deemed worthy to be investigated if they existed in a corrupt, third world, pariah state.

  • Gord

    Our BFG is a Yogi?

    I think it is just another way to spell wonderful.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I see from the list of FIFA’s main sponsors above that a worldwide boycott of these companies and their products would surely haste its , and Septic Bladder ‘s downfall .
    I have got the ball rolling by pledging not to use their products . Well , it was very easy for me as I don’t use their products to begin with !

  • Eliot

    I think that if Platini is saying that, there’s surely some irony there… Isn’t he as crooked as a bag of snakes, too? Eh … maybe he isn’t, maybe he’s plain shit, this would be a nice way to cover either up … a strong stance!

    (UEFA is a big old pile of bollocks, too, though … separately, obviously … why no appeals process for cards?)

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Truth is, I am responsible for my own happiness and my own well being. The choices and decisions I make moment to moment directly impact the quality of my days.
    Taite Adams

  • para

    Having seen all type of “politics” over my life time, i still cannot help feeling that this is just the bigger sharks taking over a “new” patch where “much food(money) is now to be made”. It probably will appear to have changed the administration of football and make it “global”. Only much later will we really see the results.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Para – All we can hope is that the change (if any ) this timeis for the better . Probably at least for a few years , before it becomes same old ,same old ! Seeing Septic Bladder in shackles would be a little thrill for me .
    I remember when João Havelange resigned in 1998 , we were (…at least I was !) heralding a new dawn for FIFA . Our hopes were very soon shot down !

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – the more things change, the more they stay the same !

  • Richard

    England 2018 leaders reacted with fury to the investigation into fifa……So says this paper –

    Weird that all talk about corruption is about the bidding process for 2018 and 2022. Looks like those that missed out are really hurting badly and would do anything to bring down Fifa. Back in 2010 when Panaroma called out Fifa for being corrupt, those running football in this country were still willing to press on with their bid. Was this a case of everyone does the same thing to win bids? Only in this case Qatar and Russia outdid the others. One question I ask, what would have happened if England won the bid for 2018 and USA 2022? Would there still be a case of corruption against FIFA?

    Why did Platini, UEFA president vote for Qatar? Was he bribed? Was his vote part of the corruption by Qatar? Obviously his vote must have helped Qatar in some way. If no one is calling for his head, surely there are equally clean participants that voted Qatar. It took four rounds of voting for Qatar to win according to One should ask if the last 3 votes they gained at the last round was bought. But then I can’t recall if the voting was secret.

    I’ve long wanted Fifa to reform as I hated its stranglehold on poorer/corrupt countries where Nations were expected to fund National football teams/tournament but couldn’t demand accountability from their corrupt national FA officials who embezzle the funds. (How many African nations had a problem with funds in the last world cup?).

    Seems the chickens have come home to roost as those hurt by Fifa actions are really going for the jugular.

  • Gord

    Family problems are not nice to hear about. Perhaps more so before big events. But the following article about a comment Szczesny senior has made, also mentions that it has been 2 years since our goalkeeper has talked to his father. Hopefully things will get better.

  • Gord

    Story out of Ghana, that indicates some African countries are considering not supporting the endless bladder corruption.

  • Gord

    Dyke has spoken up about WC2018, and thinks England should boycott iff much of UEFA also boycotts. He has also said, sure England could do WC2014 at the last minute.

    Brazil had 12 venues, ranging from 39,631 to 74,438. While England has lots of stadia, there are not many at 50,000 and up. Brazil is relatively poor, and lacked a lot of infrastructure for supporting visiting fans. Having 6 of the stadia under 50,000 wasn’t too bad. I don’t think England could afford to do that.

    Anfield is too small, but planning to expand (when pigs fly, or something like that). But, Anfield would likely come in bigger than it is now. I can’t imagine ManC not jumping at the opportunity of adding a few more seats, so maybe both of those go up 10,000 in capacity. I don’t know if Arsenal would entertain adding more seats, or even if they could. I think you pretty much have to consider Millenium in Wales, in which case it would be England and Wales taking over WC2018. Ont he flip side, neither Cardiff or Swansea could contribute a stadium (too small). I think you need another 50k or bigger stadium in the mix. Do you ask Scotland to get involved (Hampden), or do you see if the rugby boys would let Twickenham be used?

  • Gord

    Well, the bladder came 7 votes short of the required 140 to be elected on the first ballot. Is Prince Ali going to convince 32 (or more) voters who like being bribed to vote for him in the second ballot? Doesn’t seem likely.

  • Alex

    Am I missing something in here or what ?………there is no one so far that has come with credibile evidence of corrruption or any believe able fact.

    By just saying FIFA is corrupt it doesn’t sit well i guess .There for for my liking it is sour grapes .England and USA lost it and it is noting more than revenge.

    FIFA UEFA and the FA all needed to be investigated by an independent body.
    The way to do it I guess is to start from home.
    FA first followed by UEFA and then FIFA.

  • para

    Aha good people, among all the arrests: Fifa re-elects Blatter president.

    After all that?

  • Sav from Australia

    So…Asia and Africa choose Blatter….

    Hmmmm….must be because they’re all sooo corrupt. Lol

  • Stan The Man

    Can someone please do a count? Are we having something close to Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves here? Africa and Asia inclusive.

  • Alex

    Africa + Asia = Evils

    Europe + USA = Angeles

    Get over it .Sour loosers and will not have a chance of hosting the world cup for another decade.

    New Zetland next.

  • Jambug


    You invested thousands in a property venture which fell through. You lost every penny.

    You find out 10 years later the development company that acquired the property you wanted where paying illegal backhanders to the local authority to acquire the land.

    I take it you’d happily just sit back and not say a word?

    Yeah right.

    I’m not saying they have done anything wrong but it sounds very much like it and only time will tell if the accused are guilty, but it’s not a matter of simply saying they’re sour losers, and should just get over it, it’s about what is legal and what isn’t.

    Also I contributed to those Millions spent on our bid and fully expect them to do everything they can to see if we where fiddled out of it.

  • General secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen fight against corruption. Blatter fired him in 2002.

  • Alex


    Not defending here any wrong doing by FIFA. All I am saying is show us the details of this so called corrupt – kick backs – etc…

    Then look at the time they choose to arrest or indict the fellow FIFA chaps.
    I mean the whole world is not that blind .Hence few believe the action they took it wasn’t for the sanity of the system at all.
    So yeah bad loosers.