By Tony Attwood
If you have been reading this site over the years you will recall my little piece on 22 January 2015:
You’ll remember because ever since I have kept on going on and on about it. It reported a change in the law in Switzerland which the UK press failed to report, but which allowed the authorities to scrutinise bank accounts held by sporting governing bodies and their leaders,” in Switzerland.
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.”
Anyway, the UK press didn’t use our exclusive way ahead of the events, and so were all shocked when the FBI moved in and started arresting Fifa members. The UK media, you see, support the FA which likes to cozy up to corrupt Fifa in regular attempts to get the World Cup held in England. And why should the FA worry? The FA is funded by taxpayers in Britain, so it is not as if it is the FA’s money that is going to go missing.
But in the real world Fifa corruption continues and the latest story from the auditors is that between 2017 and 2019, around $24 million is said to have vanished from accounts in Africa. Or at least gone to unknown destinations via murky channels. But hey, it is only $24m.
The former Caf board member Musa Bility has now confirmed the existence of a report into this corruption and details of the report are appearing in the German media. But (not surprisingly) no one in the English media was interested. Amazing! Bility is the former head of the Liberian FA and it was he who started the special audit in May 2019 after some officials noticed the “unclear layoffs” of caf employees – people who had an insight into finances.
Fifa has admitted it is “aware” of the PwC report into corruption and stated that it is now collecting “additional information”.
The story has also reached the USA where the New York Times reported on Sunday that Bility had made a statement the previous day. According to this, FIFA transferred $51 million to the officers of Caf in the period under investigation of which $24 million had been paid to officials.
The auditors found 40 payments totalling $10 million, but only five of the transfers had been properly audited. In 35 cases the money had simply been moved from one account to another without any proper records.
In most cases, it appears that was completely impossible to know who had got the money. Mind you, I suspect this is a process the FA likes – which is why they so like cosying up to Fifa. After all, everyone knows that in England, administration is just something that is put in the way of progress and activity. Something that bureaucrats do in order to earn money and knighthoods. Much better to be a get-up-and-go person who gets things done. A bit like the one time England manager Sam Allerdyce, who I should add was not involved in this matter in any way, having left the FA after managing England for one match and is a straight and honest man who simply got scuppered by a couple of journalists.
But back with the case of the missing millions the report also mentions frequent handwritten changes on certain documents which the report says were unauthorised and an improper approach to moving money around.
Meanwhile, Infantino’s plan for the evolution of football in Africa has according to the German media, “further increased the chaos in the African association.” This plan involves building a modern national stadium in each of the 54 countries as a vanity project.
Also turning up in this story is Ahmad Ahmad, the Caf boss from 2017. On June 6, 2019, FIFA confirmed that Ahmad was detained by French authorities and questioned by the OCLCIFF, France’s central office for combating corruption, financial crimes, and tax crimes, although not arrested. But there is much talk of corruption and sexual harassment.
Last week Fifa announced that it would provide its so-called “independent bodies with all additional information that could be relevant to the internal ethics process”. Ahmad, who denies all allegations, had even been interrogated by the Paris prosecutor’s office for financial crimes in mid-2019 for payments to the French-based outfitter Tactical Steel, which is associated with a friend of Ahmad.
What links this to the current enquiry is a set of emails between Ahmad’s office and Tactical Steel. No contract. No invoice. Just money.
If it turns out to be true that millions of dollars and a lot of people have seeped into Ahmad’s ambit, the US judiciary could probably be asked again. The 2015 scandals were about mismanagement, and Sepp Blatter was toppled. We might be there again.
Now the German media is suggesting that Gianni Infantino’s “work style raises even more questions than that of his predecessor.”
So these eruptions in Africa might be the next round of the attempts to sort out Fifa. But of course do not expect to hear about it until the last minute in the UK press. The FA in England wants the world cup, and don’t care a damn that the show is run by a mightily corrupt organisation. After all, the money they spend is not theirs. It is mine. And yours (if you are a UK tax payer).
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