“It does make the Mafia look quite amateur.”
Steve Amoia recently had the opportunity to interview respected investigative journalist and film maker, Mr. Andrew Jennings, whose recent book, “Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals” painted FIFA in a hue that many at the world governing body would have rather not seen. Mr. Jennings is one of the few journalists who have written extensively about the inner workings at FIFA.
What follows is Part 3 of the interview where Andrew discusses the vote rigging and ticket scandals FIFA have been reportedly involved in over the years. Parts 1, 2 and 4, as well as the audio of the interview, can be found here.
Another key topic of your book was vote rigging. Could you explain the voting apparatus at FIFA to award World Cups and/or to elect their President. Do certain people or Confederations hold more power than others in this process?
If you look at the pyramid, Blatter sits at the top, the other federations such as America, England, Scotland, for example, I think it numbers 208, it’s like you look under the floor boards and find a nest of mice. They are all little mice, even here in England, and we invented football. We are the cradle of football but we don’t squeak because we like that our officials are on FIFA committees and they have a very good lifestyle.
America is just as bad. Every country in the world should stand up and say stinking fish. So what you’ve got is each continental confederation, we are in UEFA in Europe, now headed by Blatter’s friend and protégée, Platini, there is CONCACAF, covering North and Central America, Caribbean, Africa and Asia and so on. There are six confederations. Once you get to be a Confederation President, such as Jack Warner in CONCACAF, they are very happy, they are making good money in addition to the rackets. They can’t complain. They keep Blatter in power so that they can get rich. They give him the vote. It does make the Mafia look quite amateur… They are the Enrons of sport in that respect.
So you have this pyramid at the top, and Herr Blatter says ‘I’m elected by the Parliaments of FIFA’, but at the FIFA Congress, you see all of the mice, 600, 700, in one room. They don’t even squeak. They have a wonderful lifestyle. It’s a very sad thing. The only way FIFA is going to get sorted out is by the investigators. Then Blatter will have to go. Sports should be doing this, but rather, they’ll turn to the investigating magistrate, the fraud squad, so that’s how you get Blatter out.
There are only 24 men who decide the World Cup. They don’t let women in. Most of them are not thieves. I think they are all morally corrupt because nobody raises their hand and says ‘I want to get out of here. I don’t like what is going on. We are going to take our regional Confederations and break away. We don’t like these scum.’ Not in football. Not in sport. 24 are members of FIFA’s Executive Committee. President Blatter does not cast a deciding vote. You have three from CONCACAF, your part of the world, Chuck Blazer, one of the partners with a wonderful apartment in Trump Tower, you’ve got Jack Warner in Trinidad and Tobago, Rafael Seguero from Mexico, they represent you, all sports fans know that, they claim to speak for you, but they don’t want to talk to you or spend time with you. We have 8 in Europe because we are just a bigger footballing area, there are 3 or 4 out of the African continent, and one from Oceania. These are the guys who decide who gets the World Cup. A year ago, I presented a BBC programme documenting the bribes, how Germany won the votes to host the last World Cup in 2006.
As a follow up to the last question, could you discuss if there were any irregularities about the bidding process for World Cup 2006?
What you need to know for any World Cup bid, there is no accountability or transparency. Partly because they get away with it, and frankly, the coverage of journalists is not as good as it could be. Money has gone through Caribbean banks, or accounts in Lichtenstein. There is no question since Joao Havelange, the Brazilian, took over, in 1974, corruption immediately followed. Before him, there was the Englishman, Sir Stanley Rous. Now, I am not being patriotic about it, but Stan Rous was clean. He may have been a bit of a bumbling old fool, but he would never take a bribe.
Havelange with his gang arrived, and Sepp Blatter, and boy was football corrupt from then on. So bribes were paid for contracts, but in South Africa, the government had a policy that they would not pay bribes. Morocco paid. People who take bribes don’t always do what you ask of them. You can’t go to the police and say ‘I bribed that guy. He didn’t deliver the World Cup.’
Now what happened with Germany was, they had a very good position, they have great football tradition and Blatter behind them, Africa wasn’t going to vote for them, they were nearly there, they didn’t need many votes, so what happened, I’ve got the documents on this, there was one guy who stood to make the most money out of this was the German TV mogul, Leo Kirch. He has the biggest film library outside of Hollywood. He’s a very astute businessman. He has sports stations in Germany, if he could get the World Cup to Germany, he’d make a lot of money due to television rights. So his subsidiary company in Switzerland sold contracts with Thailand, with Jack Warner in Trinidad, with some in Africa, one or two more, all for Bayern Munich to go and play matches in Malta.
Now just imagine that you are a fan of Bayern. You’ll pay to see them play, but you want to see them play Real Madrid, Manchester United, you want to see them play Spurs. I’ve got friends in Malta and they said the same thing. The money went direct, I have some of the correspondence. Special accounts and so on. I showed some of these documents on the BBC last year, and we asked would you like to give us an explanation, that’s how it is done.
Will America pay? Well, they are certain people in your region there that would make a lot of money. I don’t think it would be the officials of the American Federation. You are looking at TV rights, marketing rights, and tickets. Jack Warner would love it to go to either Mexico, where he has TV rights, some under the table, and anywhere in that region. Mexico where he can get tickets. You know how valuable World Cup tickets are. I have confidential documents, accountants’ reports, showing that Jack Warner had at least 5400 World Cup tickets in Germany. And I have other reports link to his friends at FIFA, and when I filmed him he totally ignored it, called me garbage. I will have some of my television encounters with Mr. Warner, Mr. Blatter, and others on my web site by Christmas.
Warner said to me ‘I would spit on you but I would not denigrate my spit. You are garbage.’ When I asked him after (the World Cup) how much profit did you make from selling World Cup tickets? he said, and it took me by surprise, he said, ‘Go and ask your mother!’ And I said my mother is dead. ‘Go and join her.’ And I said, thank you. That was all filmed we had a camera crew there.
Speaking about World Cups, let’s turn to another theme from your book: Ticket scandals. One chapter in your book discusses Jack Warner, Vice President of FIFA, and the President of CONCACAF from Trinidad and Tobago. Could you please tell us how he came to power and influence in world football, along with his involvement in ticket distribution?
Let’s put it into context when you see my craggy old gray haired picture on my web site. I’ve been an investigative reporter for 41 years. I’ve met some bad people. I door stepped the mob in Palermo, I’ve done quite dangerous things over the years. The biggest thief, kleptomaniac, that I’ve ever come across, is Jack Warner. I’ve done organized crime, I’ve done government, banking guys, they not all robbers, and can be quite honorable men as long as you don’t take something from them.
Jack Warner is vindictive, thieving, kleptomaniac. It’s all true. If you read my book. For the U-17 Youth World Cup in T&T in 2001, he set up a company to initiate construction, he got tickets, this was all for 17 year olds, the next generation of stars. There were World Cup tickets every which way, there was an exclusive travel company, high priced tickets for Confederation officials. Jack has gone from a not very well paid teacher to the top man in Trinidad. Well, up until the Stock Market decline of last week.
Now, he is the man that American bows down to. Here is America, until recently, the world’s superpower, has more rockets and guns, army is bigger, you’ve got more of everything, you can be very tough guys when you feel the mood, but Jack Warner comes along, and you throw yourselves on your bellies and lick his boots.
Do you know why? It’s because your (US) officials like the nice little trips, nice little committees, that they make at FIFA, but not one of your officials, (Chuck) Blazer et al, has ever said that he is betraying you. To call Jack Warner a stinking fish because of those trips, but they travel all over anyway. Blazer isn’t doing all the rackets that Jack is doing, but wouldn’t it be nice if CONCACAF would publish its financial figures?
What if some journalist in America said ‘Mr. Blazer, can we please see the full ledgers of accounts?’ In his Trump Tower office… He doesn’t have the courage to stand up to Warner because your officials are cowards and doing well. When you see Jack Warner or Chuck Blazer at a box at a game, start booing. It happens to Blatter now in Europe. They hate it. Warner is a crook. They hate being booed.
Steve Amoia is the author and editor of the World Football Commentaries blog. He has written for AC Cugini Scuola Calcio, Keeper Skool, and Soccerlens.