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New Charges Show Sepp Blatter is Not Untouchable

Posted: 30/12/11 00:00

As world football looks to clean up its act, we may soon find out whether Sepp Blatter is Eliot Ness or Al Capone. Is he serious about sorting the mess out, or is he only interested in protecting his own?

Former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner has now alleged that in 1998 through a Mexican Company called OTI, he was sold the FIFA World Cup rights for Trinidad and Tobago for $1, following his support for Sepp Blatter to win the FIFA Presidency.

Mr Warner states that he used the sale of those rights "primarily to assist in the development of football in Trinidad and Tobago". He also alleges that in 2002 he was personally sold the World Cup TV Rights for 2002 and 2006, and that he later acquired the rights for the 2010 and 2014 championships.

These are serious allegations that must surely go to the very top of FIFA and need to be fully and independently investigated.

If true, how could deals like this be done without the knowledge of the most senior people in the organisation? This is a question that has to be answered by Sepp Blatter and it also demonstrates why there has to be a committee of investigation and inquiry which can act independently of the President and FIFA's Executive Committee.

Whilst these charges from Jack Warner are new and shocking, they cannot be regarded as a total surprise.

In front of our Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in May 2011, former England Football Association Chairman, Lord Triesman alleged that Jack Warner had asked England to pay for the broadcast rights for the World Cup 2010 to be shown "on large screens throughout Haiti."

It turned out, according to the Dingemans report presented to FIFA by the FA, that the pay TV World Cup rights in the Caribbean at that time were owned by a company, SportsMax, whose holding company JD International "acts on behalf of the Caribbean Football Union [then President, one Jack Warner] in selling TV rights for the region".

This means, as the FA stated in an email to FIFA on 11 May 2011, that Lord Triesman was alleging that Jack Warner was asking for payment for TV rights that he "in fact owned."

FIFA was asked by the FA to consider investigating this further, along with a number of other allegations made by Lord Triesman, and refused to do so.

These new allegations from Jack Warner also follow the order on 27 December 2011, from a Swiss court for FIFA to produce papers relating to the collapse of its former marketing partner ISL.

The ISL case was settled in the Swiss courts ten years ago with FIFA paying £3.5m, and the organisation then challenged a prosecutor's decision to make public the names of those who allegedly took bribes from ISL.

Sepp Blatter said in October 2011 that FIFA would at last drop its objections to these papers being produced, but as yet nothing has happened. The International Olympics Committee's recent investigation into this affair prompted the resignation of former FIFA President João Havelange from the IOC, a week before its ethics committee was due to report.

In the last year 11 of the 24 members of FIFA's ruling executive committee have faced allegations of corruption; no real progress towards reform has been made within FIFA, and there has never been an independent investigation into all of the bribery allegations made against them.

One man is ultimately responsible for this; Sepp Blatter.

 

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