Monday, August 15, 2011

FIFA's Troubles Spread

FIFA's troubles with corruption are not going away. Yesterday in The Independent Andrew Jennings reports on an FBI investigation of Chuck Blazer, an American who is the general secretary of Concacaf and also a member of the FIFA Executive Committee.

Jennings explains:
The man credited with blowing the whistle on bribery and corruption in Fifa, the body that runs world football, is now himself the subject of an FBI inquiry. US investigators are examining documents appearing to show confidential payments to offshore accounts operated by an American Fifa official, Chuck Blazer.

Mr Blazer sparked an investigation into allegations of bribery in the Fifa presidential election two months ago. He claimed his long-term ally Jack Warner was involved in a plot to hand $1m in cash to Caribbean officials to vote for Qatar's Mohamed bin Hammam, who was running against the sitting president, Sepp Blatter.

The subsequent scandal shook world football's governing body.
The latest allegations are as follows:
Now the spotlight has turned to payments to accounts controlled by Mr Blazer in the Cayman Islands and Bahamas. The Fifa official is contracted to work for Concacaf, the regional football association for North and Central America and the Caribbean, but FBI officers are examining evidence that payments have come from the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), a separate regional football body, tightly controlled by Mr Warner.

The most recent payment of $250,000 was last March – before Mr Blazer's allegations. Mr Blazer deposited the cheque in a Bahamas account and initially claimed it was "repayment of a personal loan" he had made to Mr Warner. He now claims Mr Warner may have misused the CFU account and says he is prepared to repay the money if that is the case.

In September last year, Mr Warner approved another CFU payment of $205,000 to a private company operated by Mr Blazer from Cayman. It is also alleged that another payment of $57,750 went from the CFU to Mr Blazer's Cayman account. Mr Blazer denies any impropriety, saying: "All of my transactions have been legally and properly done, in compliance with the various laws of the applicable jurisdictions based on the nature of the transaction." . . .

During a Fifa marketing dispute in a Manhattan court five years ago the judge ruled that Mr Blazer's testimony was "generally without credibility, based on his attitude and demeanour and on his evasive answers on cross-examination". The judge added that some of his testimony was "fabricated". Mr Blazer reportedly owns a $3m apartment in the Bahamas. He is said to own it through a Bahamas company, in turn owned by two other companies registered at a Nassau bank where he has an account.

Mr Blazer's confidential contract reveals he hires himself out from his Cayman-based company Sportvertising. It also reveals he receives 10 per cent in "commissions" from regional football marketing deals. Over the past five years he has taken $9.6m. The payments are recorded in private Concacaf accounts but with no indication that he received them. Mr Blazer says they are "consistent with industry standards". His remuneration from Concacaf has never been disclosed. He employs his son Jason, 41, as Concacaf's $7,000-a-month medical officer, and his daughter Marci has been a member of Fifa's legal committee.
In Trinidad and Tobago Jack Warner promises that he will get his revenge:
In response to the reports and the FBI investigation, Warner said he "was not surprised" that Blazer was under scrutiny.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Warner said all CONCACAF payments were above board and he was not concerned that his name would be called into question in this new scandal.

"The world will finally get to understand what I have been saying all along," Warner said.

"This is only the beginning. There is a whole lot more to come trust me," he added.

Warner said he heard Blazer was paying himself a commission and did not renew Blazer's advertising contract with the CFU for the past six years.

Warner sees this latest round of investigation into the man who sought to bring him down as "just the start".

"Listen to me carefully, I will have the last laugh in all of this," he said.
More from Andrew Jennings here. Chuck Blazer blogs here.

And if you are curious as to why football governance is such a mess, you might have a look at my paper on the subject.

1 comment:

  1. I remembered this post some time ago....
    This is what I read today in the BBC football site..

    Keep up the pod work Roger... You run the BEST blog!