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Chair of PSG accused of wholesale corruption – but it is not reported in the British media

By Tony Attwood

Although it rarely makes the news in the British press these days in the United States and Switzerland the issue of the corruption of football on a global scale continues to make the headlines.  And much of the time the story is the same: dozens of people and dozens of companies have been skimming off huge sums from broadcasting and sponsorship deals related to Fifa and Uefa sponsored events.

Indeed even when the story implicates the chair of a major player on the European stage, such as the chair of PSG and accuses him of being involved in wholesale corruption, but story doesn’t even make the last item on the midnight news.

Now why is that?

Yet the current scandal (just one of many of course) raises the question that if the essence of the funding of the World Cup is so corrupt, what else is corrupt and where does the corruption end?   And should national organisations be dealing with the bodies that are in charge of the events which are corrupted in this way?

And why is the British media so utterly disinterested in this?

The names of the organisations involved are not of the household variety for good reasons: Mountrigi Management Group, for example, consists of three people.  Just three.  It is based in the Swiss town of Zug population 29,000.  If you are not Swiss, you may be forgiven not having heard of it.  It’s population is about half the size of Rutland.  If you are not English and haven’t heard of Rutland, well, it is a county with a big lake.  Just like Zug in fact).

So what would you think if a company of three people based in the sleepy backwater of Rutland (or indeed Zug) gained the broadcasting rights to the World Cup in much of the Central and South Americas?  All the way from Mexico to Argentina.

And not just once, but all the way through to the year 2030.

Here’s a picture of Zug.  It looks rather nice.

And here’s another thing: there was no formal bidding process for these rights, no chance for some obscure channel that turns up on Sky but takes you two hours to find among the list of hobby channels, to put in a bid.

And above all, no fanfare that the little Zug based firm with no history in this sort of work, had got the rights.   Plus no mention of the oddity in the UK media.  Not a sausage.  Nothing.  Not even when the PSG connection turned up.

Now I know this is all a bit of a technical thing, and it is not to do with the rights to broadcast in the UK, or any part of Europe, but even so, the fact that it happened surely suggests something is wrong somewhere since it relates to the dominant source of income of Fifa, and to the chair of a giant of European football.

Fortunately for the handful of us who believe that Fifa is a criminal organisation that pulls money out of football and ultimately out of tax payers pockets (at least it does in England, where money goes from the taxpayer to the government to the FA to Fifa), details of the Zug arrangement have been chased down by the constant investigation in the USA into corruption in football.

And at last the Swiss authorities have got involved, not least because they know about Zug – a town that has more companies registered in it than it has people living there.

Mountrigi paid about $190 million for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, a fraction of the real price – and the same apparently has happened with the 2026 and 2030 tournaments.  Far less than their actual worth which has been enhanced by the fact that the world cup is expanding to 48 teams, meaning a lot more TV.

Now you might think that a) Fifa would want to clarify this odd arrangement with the three man company in a tiny Swiss town and that b) because of England’s interest in the world cup, there might be an interest in this issue, even though it doesn’t affect broadcasting in the UK.

But no.  It doesn’t seem to interest the English media.  Not even with the PSG link.

And yet there is a story of universal interest because Mountrigi was aided and abetted by Alejandro Burzaco, an Argentine businessman who last year pleaded guilty to bribing regional football officials so that the company he ran would get the rights to regional tournaments. His company, Torneos y Competencias, agreed with the United States Department of Justice to pay $112.8 million to settle the case.

So the allegation now is that another company paid millions of pounds in bribes to get the rights major parts of South America for the next four World Cups and then following that Mountrigi was awarded those rights and immediately sold them to Burzaco which then pushed through millions of dollars in bribes to Julio Grondona, who was in charge of Fifa’s finance committee.

You might want to take that last paragraph again just get see the enormity of the fraud.

And this is where PSG comes in.  For accused in the latest round is the Qatari businessman Nasser al-Khelaifi, who is … oh you got it…. the chairman of Paris Saint Germain.  He is accused of bribing Valcke in return for another set of rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups. Khelaifi denies the allegations.

In fact over 40 people and businesses have now been charged with corruption over the issue of selling these rights.

Beyond the rights it sold to Torneos, Mountrigi has yet to assign deals to other territories so its profits accumulation will continue to grow and grow.

But here’s the thing.  Fifa gets 90 percent of its income from the TV rights to the World Cup.   If that plug is suddenly pulled then Fifa itself could be in trouble.  Which is every reason to nudge the media into taking this seriously.

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9 comments to Chair of PSG accused of wholesale corruption – but it is not reported in the British media

  • Dom

    Better known as Organised Crime !

  • Jax

    I don’t know about what goes ‘on the midnight news’, but isn’t this the same Nasser al-Khelaifi who’s corruption was extensively reported on in early October in The Guardian? Surely you can’t have missed that Tony!
    I won’t provide any links at this time as It usually puts me into moderation, but if you require one I will.

  • Chris

    For those who might not understand the implication…imagine the following situation

    You are running a small company, a mom and pop shop, a consulting business.
    There is you, your wife or your brother or your cousins or a friend and an assistant
    You started the business a few weeks ago. You’re still looking for that first customer

    Now you hear about this big project, in the hundreds of millions and you decide to give it a shot.
    So far so good, you believe in yourself. Good for you

    But now, do you believe there is any damn reason the customer awards you a contract in the hundreds of millions, when you have no piroir record, no company references, no company credit record, no offices and staff that make it believable that you can handle a contract in such numbers ?!?!

    Is there any reason you could get this deal when others competing have all the track records, the successes, the staff, the infrastructure ?

    In the end this is the fairytale this organisation wants to makebelieve the world, the national member organisations, the authorities.

    Just imagine the guy opening his post in the morning, finding a letter froim the bank, and in it a bank receipt for 100’000’000.- US$ or EUR or CHF, or a multiple thereof. Does this sound like reasonable ?!?!

    This is what this whole scandal is about.

  • Chris

    @Jax,

    yes, the Guardian has brought some pieces about corruption in football.

    Yet Tony saxs ‘the British press’ in general, not one (and rare) paper in particular.
    Every news outlet reports about corruption in the campagin of a US president… sure enough this is ‘bigger’ than FIFA, yet considering how football is part of so many people’s everyday life (or should I say many week evenings life and many week-ends life, don’t you find it surprising ?

    Why is the BBC for example not reporting about it whereas they have done excellent news research in the past and still do ? Why are other stations who revell in uncovering all sorts of scandals not reporting much about it ? They did report about a past Three Lions manager recently, didn’t they ?

    That is the fundamental question : why the lack of curiosity, the silence, the omerta, the line : if I don’t blog about it it did not happen like a Sp*urs blogger wrote after Sp*urs last defeat ?

  • Jax

    Chris
    I agree, much gets unreported, but think that Tony should check the accuracy of his headlines & content of articles before publication as there are people who hang on every word that he writes.

  • Ferg

    Are there Jax?
    Do they really?
    Methinks you’ve got you’re axe ground to hair splitting mode.

    I’ve read the grauniad piece , ( now ,thanks to you), and it falls short on both detail ,and explanation compared to Tony’s. Maybe they will catch up soon, but for now I think the headline is reasonable.

  • Jax

    ‘Are there Jax?
    Do they really?’
    Yes there are & they do. There are acolytes & suckups who unfortunately believe every word that they’re fed.
    And since you’ve taken the trouble to find the article in the Guardian (on the 12th October) you might have noticed that they did another on the 13th, the BBC also did one on the 13th & even Sky & the Mirror did one apiece on the 12th & also other agencies. So not bad for ‘hair splitting’. However you wish to dress this up it has been previously well reported in the UK media. It’s old news.
    So Tony has a more detailed version. Is that all you’ve got? It’s been three weeks for more info to emerge, so hardly surprising.
    I have no ‘axe to grind’, just do not like to see misinformation.

  • Ferg

    I presume that you know all these poor unfortunates Jax , as I’d hate to think you were just exaggerating to make a point.
    The story isn’t the title is it?
    For me it IS the added details.
    There we are . Different strokes. Happy grinding

  • Jax

    So you’ll accept the blatant misinformation of the headline and in the article because it’s more detailed.
    Yes definitely different strokes.
    Spot on.

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