by Tony Attwood
Investigation teams in the USA have now stated that the three decisive votes for the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar were subject to a wholesale process of bribery and corruption.
It is what most of us have concluded all along, but of course, the level of proof demanded by the authorities is a little bit higher than that demanded by Untold Arsenal.
The matter will now go before the courts in New York, and if they agree then I think it is fair to say all hell will break loose. And this won’t be court cases. The implications for Fifa, the world cup itself, participating countries and commercial organisations is going to be mind-blowing.
FIFA has a prized possession: the World Cup. That’s where the money comes from. The problem is, in American legal circles, it is now known as “The Bought World Cup”. Because the prosecutors know an open and shut case when it falls into their laps.
The fact that ever since Untold got the tip off about the reason for the change in Swiss law, which we then published on 22 January 2015 (Switzerland take a greater interest in Fifa – at last) we have been waiting for the next big assault. And I think Fifa in general and Infantino, in particular, has been thinking they had survived that upheaval and were safe.
In fact, since Infantino has happily accepted that the old guard were as corrupt as a pack of cards with five aces, he has been telling everyone it is different now; it has all been cleaned up. And he has said it so much even he believes it.
Believes it so much that Fifa tells us it has a “zero-tolerance” policy on corruption. And since the evidence of corruption in the bidding process is so overwhelmingly clear there is only one thing to conclude. America is about to unleash another gigantic onslaught – one that will either tear Fifa apart or subject it to a slow death over the next decade.
The New York City criminal department has released its latest charge sheet, and it does not make good reading for dodgy football people. In fact, you probably haven’t read it at all because most newspapers and other outlets in the UK have not had much on it. Just as they refused to follow our story on the change in Swiss law. They think British people aren’t really interested in foreign news. Or foreigners.
But the media has had plenty of time to catch up, because the trial has been running since May 2015. By the end of 2017, 28 defendants have either pleaded guilty (just to get it all over with) or been convicted (and wished they had pleaded guilty). Further charges still rest on the table and could be brought forward if the prosecutor’s office feels the courts are not being severe enough with the defendants.
Those defendants are being charged with fraudulently acquiring TV rights for football, particularly as a result of Fifa awarding the World Cup locations for 2018 and 2022 at the same time, which made life soooooo much easier for the fraudsters – what with them being able to buy two deals both at the same moment with the same set of bribes.
According to the indictments, Jack Warner (he of the Caribbean arm of Fifa) got $5m from Russia. Julio Grondona, Nicolas Leoz and Ricardo Teixeira of the South American contingent each got $$$ from Qatar, although that one is still denied.
And what makes Infantino’s position so impossible is that after the head of the Argentine teams negotiating rights openly talked about kickbacks to Fifa, Infantino said that he preferred to look forward rather than back to old allegations. No investigation, no nothing.
US judiciary officials are not so easily put off, however, as we saw last time. Because if the court were to say the appointments made for locations of the World Cups were corrupt, then… well anything can happen.
Now what you have to remember is that America lobbied Switzerland like mad to get it to change the rules about allowing US officers onto their territory to arrest those suspected of being guilty of corruption on Swiss soil. That time the USA argued that if the Swiss did not agree, they would reveal everything so that Switzerland’s famous neutrality would be seen as a deliberate cover for corruption on a worldwide scale; corruption with which Switzerland was complicit.
So the big question is, does the onslaught the USA is about to unleash endanger Qatar hosting the competition? And that is interesting because it got the gig by beating the USA in the runoff 14 votes to 8.
An investigation at that point into “identified irregularities” in the voting said the irregularities were not sufficient to require a re-run. Which is a bit like saying that the amount of sugar in a bottle of Coca Cola is not sufficient to require an investigation into whether it is the sugar that makes the drink so sweet.
Qatar got its 14 votes in part because it gained votes of the South Americans: Grondona, Leoz and Teixeira. Had they been neutral it would have been 11/11 which would have given the infinitely corrupt Sepp Blatter the casting vote. And Blatter has always said, he never wanted Qatar, he would have voted for the USA.
In fact, Blatter was quite clear about what he wanted: Russia in 2018, USA in 2022 China in 2026.
So if the legal action by the USA that is about to hit Fifa is successful, the demand will be for Qatar to lose its right to host the world cup. However the cost of this at this late stage will be gigantic. Besides everyone seems to think that Infantino is under the control of Qatar anyway.
But if they don’t take the tourney away from Qatar then we can be sure that USA, Australia, Japan and South Korea will sue Fifa for everything they have, and then some.
Yet even that would be just a sideshow compared to what the US judiciary seem to be lining up. They really don’t like bribery and corruption. For as Hans-Joachim Eckert, the Munich judge was first chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee recently noted, if one concludes the World Cup was bought, the USA will put all those involved in bribery on a blacklist. So every broadcaster, sponsor, and every other organisation that participates in any way could be blacklisted by the US judiciary and the US Treasury.
As a result, no American citizen could deal with them. No sponsor, no bank, credit card company, no one. It would be a total financial blockade of Fifa and the world cup. Farewell Coca-Cola, Adidas, and the rest.
They could even start boycotting media companies that did deals with Fifa. If they really wanted to get annoying they could demote any country that participated, when it came to trade deals. And that might screw up the British attempt to get trade deals with the US – pull out of the world cup or no deal.
Now you might think this all typical fanciful Untold stuff. Maybe you thought that when we said that a change in Swiss law, which was not noted by any other UK media, football orientated or otherwise, was going to start an all-out assault on Fifa, we were just making it up.
And yes, we do get things wrong. Maybe we have got this wrong. But I can tell you, we don’t actually make these things up. It’s out there. It really is.
So why won’t the British media report this?
Primarily because they have all bought into the World Cup already, with rights and sponsorship deals. If the Americans really go at this, as I think they will, some firms could lose an awful lot of money.
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