By Tony Attwood
Recently we asked: Why are so many sport administrators corrupt or incompetent or both?
That question can’t be answered in full, although we will be trying to give some answers in the coming days, but before that, we have other matters to consider such as the awarding of the 2022 World Cup, Gianni Infantino’s flight to Qatar, the Blatter-Platini affair…
Proceedings are happening here, there and everywhere, including of course the trial of Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, chairman of beIN and PSG, and the former director Jerome Valcke, which opens on Monday.
That case started with the arrest on 27 May 2015 of seven leaders of world football in Zurich, relating to the tactics used by South American officials in offering the TV rights for various competitions.
This case was investigated in the United States, and resulted in the sentencing of Paraguayan Juan Angel Napout to nine years in prison and Brazilian Jose Maria Marin to four years in prison. Jeffrey Webb, from the Cayman Islands, pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $6.7 million. Word has it he just wrote a cheque.
For the TV rights of the World Cup, Nasser Al-Khelaïfi of Qatar and Jerome Valcke from France, (former secretary-general of Fifa), were accused of having concluded a pact without Fifa’s knowledge, for the rights to the World Cups planned for 2026 and 2030.
Nasser Al-Khelaïfi was acquitted in October 2020, while Valcke received a light sentence in another unrelated case. The prosecution has appealed and the new trial is scheduled to take place from March 7 to 10 in Switzerland.
Now it may be that the UK media won’t cover this at all. I can’t say for sure, but I just get this little feeling that the FA will lean on the journalists to say nowt. Of course, there won’t be any inducements not to cover this, but maybe the media will be reminded that it has failed completely to cover other issues relating to Fifa and the events of late in Switzerland, so suddenly jumping in would look a bit out of context. And covering these stories might harm England’s chances in the finals. Which of course is not to say that the refereeing will be corrupt, but… well, …
The key issue is that Fifa paid Michel Platini 1.8 million euros (£1.5m) on the OK of Sepp Blatter. There was no written agreement or contract just the payment (which is exactly the sort of job I want, so if you know of one, tell them I’m on the lookout.)
On 2 November last year a trial against Platini (aged 66) and Blatter (still with us aged 85), for fraud, unfair management, breach of trust and forgery were initiated. Which is a pretty nifty set of accusations. The defence is that the money was owing from work as a consultant between 1999-2002.
(Which reminds me, I was asked for my opinion about the England team last year Maybe I ought to put a bill in).
Michel Platini called the case a “conspiracy” to stop him from becoming President of Fifa. He’s now suing those who are suing him for “slanderous denunciation” and “criminal association”.
Infantino’s case is even more of a laugh since when he was elected in 2016 it was on the ticket of “restoring the image of Fifa”. He is charged with “incitement to abuse of authority”, “violation of official secrecy” and “obstruction of criminal proceedings”.
This is where we get to the bit that we’ve been covering across the years: Infantino’s secret meetings in 2016 and 2017 with Michael Lauber, then head of the Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office. Oh yes and that old story we researched about the private flight back from central America by Mr. Infantino in 2017 and paid by Fifa. That’s back on the agenda as well. (Actually, I am glad about that as we really did quite a bit of digging on that one, where once again the British media wouldn’t touch the issue with the proverbial barge pole).
But even all this is as nothing compared to the BIG ONE: the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. The Swiss justice department has been investigating since May 2015 for “money laundering and unfair management”.
You may have read about it on Untold. You won’t have read much about it in the British media.
At the same time, the French justice department is looking into a lunch held on 23 November 2010 including Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, two senior Qatari officials and Michel Platini, head of Uefa. As part of the merry-go-round, Sepp Blatter was a “witness”.
The 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa are also under investigation although the investigation into the awarding of the 2006 World Cup to Germany has stopped because of the statute of limitations.
Funny isn’t it, that the English media won’t cover any of it.