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Why did the media go for this Fifa corruption story and not others

By Tony Attwood

If you are a regular or even an occasional reader of Untold you might have noticed that we tend to cover football corruption stories.  Indeed I think we were the only website in the UK to cover the news that the Swiss were changing their rules allowing foreign governments to arrest wanted suspects while in Switzerland at a conference of an international body based in that country.

In that piece we advised Fifa to take their next conference to South America rather than Switzerland.  They didn’t and the Swiss allowed in the FBI who dutifully arrested a whole load of them.  The original post was “Switzerland takes a greater interest in Fifa” published 22 January 2015.

Since then my complaint has been that although corruption cases and legal battles have mounted, with one big case leading not only to Infantino being on trial but also the head of the Swiss national legal services, but not a word of this slips into the UK media.

So it goes on and on, and the latest one to be ignored is the case of Infantino’s expenses which we have been covering for several years and which earlier this month has started moving into court.  Infantino in two legal cases in court at once.  Whoever would have thought it?

Well, certainly not readers of the national media in the UK who would have been totally shocked by the headline in the Guardian…

“Fifa has issued a complaint of “criminal mismanagement” against its former president Sepp Blatter.”

It is presented there without any context of any of the other court cases and investigations currently going on, as if it is an isolated issue.  This one concerns “the involvement of Blatter and other former officials at the world governing body in the Fifa museum project in the Swiss city.”

So why has this story, which according to the Press Association follows an audit that “revealed a wide range of suspicious circumstances and management failures, some of which may be criminal in nature and which therefore need to be properly investigated by the relevant authorities,” made the British media, while none of the others have.

Largely because if is Fifa that is spreading the story, and whatever Fifa says is accepted a truthful by the media because Fifa is partly funded by the British taxpayer.  Besides Fifa has written the whole thing out in a neat press release which the media is gobbling up and spitting out verbatim.

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“We came to the conclusion that we had no choice other than to report the case to state prosecutors, not least because the current management of Fifa also has fiduciary responsibilities to the organisation and we intend to live up to them, even if those before us dismally failed to.

“Following a detailed review of historic facts and circumstances concerning the construction and on-going operational costs of the Fifa Museum, Fifa has become aware of many serious irregularities regarding this project, which raise strong suspicions of criminal misconduct on the part of various different officials and companies associated with the matter….

“The criminal complaint filed by Fifa is directed against various members of the former Fifa management, including former president Joseph Blatter, as well as further ‘unknown’ potential suspects. It is suspected that these individuals may have been involved in various acts of criminal mismanagement, and possibly other related offences.”

The notion of Fifa being “duty bound” to do anything legal is utterly laughable as the current cases against Fifa show, but this story allows Fifa to put itself in a positive light, and further deflect any thought the media might have to reveal the big story of the cases of corruption against the current Fifa boss, Infantino.

So the media lap up the tale that Fifa’s deputy secretary general, Alasdair Bell, has said, “Given the massive costs associated with this museum, as well as the general way of working of the previous Fifa management, a forensic audit was conducted in order to find out what really happened here.

“That audit revealed a wide range of suspicious circumstances and management failures, some of which may be criminal in nature and which therefore need to be properly investigated by the relevant authorities.”  The point is made that previous Fifa administrations have not taken action, but now the good guys are in power so they are cleaning up.  (Even though the boss is himself on trial in another case).

The allegation is that the museum project was “deliberately mismanaged”, so that the owner of the builder (the insurance firm Swiss Life) would make a profit and (it is implied) give a kick back to certain Fifa execs.

The Guardian also notes that “Blatter is already under criminal investigation in Switzerland over a separate matter – an alleged undue payment to the former Uefa president Michel Platini. He was issued an initial eight-year ban from football by Fifa’s ethics committee in relation to that payment, reduced to six years on appeal. That sanction was upheld by the court of arbitration for sport. Platini and Blatter have continued to maintain they did nothing wrong.”

But not a word about the current cases.  It is a deliberate case of misleading the public by the Guardian and other newspapers.

The corruption files

1 comment to Why did the media go for this Fifa corruption story and not others

  • Ando

    The same thought occurred to me when I read the Blatter articke in the Grandad..
    This is a puff-piece for FIFA, written and distributed by their press office, to deflect attention from current legal action against it
    Well done Tony, for being the only football related website in the UK for highlighting this sick charade.
    Merry Christmas and – without much hope, I admit – up the Gunners!

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