Hard Man Henry Kissinger will boot out Blatter
By Andrew Jennings, the journalist who has fought for 14 years to expose the corruption at the heart of football’s governing body.
When Sepp Blatter let slip last week that Henry Kissinger is heading for Zurich to sweep away the dirt at FIFA he surely knew that his bottom ain’t going to be warming the President’s throne for many more months. When Kissinger added, ‘There’s a need for modernisation,’ Blatter had to know the jig was up.
Kissinger said of Blatter, darkly, ‘I would certainly know how to communicate with him, and the results will be shown by the degree to which our recommendations are accepted.’
Here we go. The long-expected American power grab for world football, a sport too globally popular, too dripping in money to be left under the control of the third-rate clowns who’ve reduced it to a daily scandal show. They’ve asked for it — and they’re going to get it, big-time.
Blatter will be pushed aside by his furious financiers, Coca-Cola, Adidas, Visa and the other global brands that pay for his presidential life style and the comforts that keep his dimwit members voting for him. Blatter has made himself the focus of planet-wide loathing and ridicule and Big Money has had enough. All sponsor’s contracts have break clauses for misbehaviour — just like Coca-Cola and Mr Rooney.
Forget the Kissinger who many accuse of war crimes after the bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Put aside his Nobel Peace Prize for helping end the carnage that he helped create.
Remember only two things: That Kissinger’s secretive consultancy firm tightly controlled the so-called Olympic reform process in 1999 after the catastrophic sex-and-cash-for-votes scandal in Salt Lake City. And remember (are you listening Sepp?) that Kissinger worked on the failed American bid to stage the 2022 World Cup. He knows his country was shafted. Sepp, it’s personal.
BLATTER MUST BE DITCHED
When the sponsors – whoops, partners as we are instructed to call them – moved on the International Olympic Committee in 1999 because the Salt Lake scandal was damaging the event for which they paid so much, they let president Samaranch stay in power.
This was because the dirt wasn’t seen to stick to Samaranch personally — and the sponsors needed him under control to steer the 2008 Games to Beijing, clients of Kissinger. That chapter of IOC scandals could be closed swiftly. There was no more dirt to come.
No such luck for Blatter. He’ll have to be ditched because in a few months the FIFA president’s personal involvement in the biggest corruption story in world sport will be revealed. That would be one in the jockstrap for the Partners. They are not going to tolerate any more pain.
If the London hacks covering the congress in Zurich last week hadn’t been so busy abusing the English and Scottish FA’s attempts to clean up FIFA they could have strolled to the nearest newsstand and bought a copy of the weekly Handelszeitung.
They might have noticed the prominent headline ‘Kickbacks: Fifa blocks release of documents’ and read the killer story. Killer for Blatter that is.
Reporter Jean-Francois Tanda revealed that FIFA had gone to court in the canton of Zug on May 24 in a desperate attempt to stop publication of the final report by Investigating Magistrate Thomas Hildbrand, summing up his eight-year probe into the bribes trousered by FIFA’s top officials from the ISL marketing company. The report is sitting in the Zug prosecutor’s office. It won’t gather dust.
FIFA SUPPRESSING BRIBES REPORT
Tanda featured in our BBC Panorama programme on Monday May 23, talking about FIFA’s expensive legal war to suppress the report.
Panorama goes to UEFA’s Paris congress in March. I get alongside Blatter, ask him, ‘Why are you blocking the publication of the investigation into FIFA? Why are you blocking? Why not make it public?’ As Blatter slithers away he snaps, ‘I am not going to speak now.’
You bet he isn’t going to speak about this, ever. A year ago the Zug prosecutor announced that three anonymous parties had paid millions to halt the investigation. The deal was that they could remain anonymous in return for confessing their guilt.
As I said in the programme, FIFA – of course, that’s Blatter – had to admit to investigators that they knew all about the bribes – and had done nothing about it. You might wonder why. And standing on the dock on the Zugersee, framed by some very large mountains, I disclosed that the two anonymous FIFA officials who had admitted pocketing the bribes were former FIFA president Brazil’s Joao Havelange and his former son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira, a member of FIFA’s executive committee since 1994 and in charge of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
'KIDNAPPING, BURGLARY, ROBBERY.'
The BBC has joined with several Swiss media companies petitioning the Zug prosecutor for disclosure. We all want to know, who got the $100 million that passed under the table. We’ve seen some of the curious reasons The FIFA Three’s lawyers give for keeping the report secret. Their clients, would suffer ‘negative press coverage.’ Their reputations would be ‘damaged irreparably.’ They might even suffer ‘kidnapping, burglary or robbery.’
Tanda tells me that he expects the lawyers to block disclosure all the way to the Federal Court in Lausanne. The process could take a year, maybe more. But there is a crucial precedent case and the judges and lawyers have no doubt that the names will be revealed.
Coca-Cola won’t like that — so they are going to have to dispense with the services of Blatter and Teixeira, and a few more, before too long. Any squawking from The FIFA Three and the money tap will be turned off.
Look what the sponsors are saying in public. Adidas talk about ‘the negative tonality.’ Coca-Cola adds, ‘The current allegations are distressing and bad for the sport.’
Here’s McDonald's: “We expect that the current issues will be resolved in the best interest of the game." Emirates is ‘disappointed.’ For Visa, ‘The current situation is clearly not good for the game and we ask that FIFA take all necessary steps to resolve the concerns.’
And Budweiser? ‘It is our expectation that FIFA will address and resolve this situation in an expedient manner.’ Castrol chip in, ‘We are watching the current situation very closely and expect FIFA to resolve these issues in a right and proper manner.’ You have to know that in private the phones are melting in multi-lingual expletives.
PRIVATE, MONEY-SOAKED MEETING
So what will Henry Kissinger do to FIFA? I have a hunch, because back in 1999 I watched how he managed the IOC ‘reform’ process on behalf of the Partners. It helped that a source was slipping me the IOC’s confidential internal reports.
The parallels are eerie. The FIFA scandal erupted 10 days ago with the disclosure of Trinidad’s Jack Warner hosting, with Qatar’s presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam, a private, money-soaked meeting of the Caribbean Football Association.
In late 1998 the IOC was hit by revelations of bribes gleefully accepted by some of their members from the winter Games bidders from Salt Lake City in Utah. Within days the IOC sponsors went crazy – in private. An IOC board meeting was told:
“Privately (the sponsors) have made it very clear to the IOC that if the crisis is allowed to drag on and the IOC is seen not to have addressed the issues at hand, the consequences could be fatal to their Olympic partnership.’
What’s to do? Panic. Surrender to the muscle.
BLACK OPS PEOPLE
The IOC called Kissinger. Why? He lists Coca-Cola as a client. Since leaving public service, Kissinger had traded his international celebrity and political connections for cash in the corporate world. His Kissinger Associates is the ultimate influence broker between corporations and governments across the globe.
When Blatter spoke last week of his promised ‘Commission of the Wise” I knew the New York PR men were already writing his script. Yes, there will Johan Cruyff and more utterly likeable ingénues. And the Black Ops people.
The IOC was advised to appoint spin-doctors Hill & Knowlton. The IOC Marketing director was despatched to New York to seek their advice. Later, behind closed doors, he told the board that they'd been ‘under pressure from all their business partners.’
The stage-managing began. Kissinger played a key role setting up the grand-sounding ‘Reform Commission 2000’ to remake the Olympic Committee in the image the Partners wanted.
There were the bosses of several companies including Fiat, Xerox and Swatch. (Coke and the mainline Partners didn’t need to be there. Henry was on the Commission, looking after them.) There were some mistakes in the choice of IOC members. Volleyball’s Ruben Acosta resigned suddenly from the IOC five years later — and despite the rumours we never really knew why.
We do know why Bulgaria’s Ivan Slavkov had to go. A BBC Panorama programme caught him in 2004 with his hand out for bribes. Lord Seb Coe leant a helping hand to the Commission, and of course there was Blatter, appointed the previous year as new head organiser of Zurich Local 666 of the International Corruption Cartel and his mentor João Havelange.
That all happened in the early Spring of 1999. I attended many tedious press conferences through the year as the IOC members wrestled with high-falutin’ moral topics — and some cosmetic constitutional changes. In December, the IOC reforms document was handed round. What had Kissinger been doing? At the press conference I asked him about a crucial point: was the IOC going to continue selecting its members?
Kissinger replied, ‘I haven’t read it carefully.’
BLOOD ON THE PITCH
The IOC had to ‘let go’ a few grasping members. But the rest were pretty much united, chanting the mantra of Olympic idealism. It’s not the same at FIFA. There’s a determined land grab going on, spearheaded from New York by Chuck Blazer and backed up by the Partners. It’s war.
There’ll be blood on the pitch. Two other executive committee members are said to have been present in Trinidad. At this rate their ruling committee may soon be inquorate. Ex-FBI boss Louis Freeh has been hired to investigate since the day the Warner-Bin Hammam dollar fest was blown out. Mr Freeh made his name taking down Mobsters in New York. FIFA should give him a free hand to take down what increasingly appears to be an organised crime family at the heart of world football.
That’s good. Except that Chuck Blazer, who launched the attack on Warner, is now being heralded as the ‘Mr Clean’ of FIFA. Is this the same official who for 20 years failed to be bothered by Jack Warner’s rapacious activities?
Where does it all end? We found out in February 2006 when IOC President Jaques Rogge, sliced, diced and reconstituted by the Partners, made an historic announcement at a McDonalds burgers ‘Balanced lifestyles’ press conference on the eve of the Torino winter games. ‘McDonald’s has supported the Olympic Movement for more than 30 years now, and we share many of the same ideals,’ said Rogge without looking at his cue card. So much for the war against obesity.
Rogge has a further task to perform for the Partners. As part of the clear-out at FIFA, his Ethics Commission has to hurry up with their investigation of dual membership officials involved in the ISL bribes scandal.
TOSS THE BUMS OUT
Africa’s Issa Hayatou, Blatter and Havelange were named by BBC Panorama last November in the programme that the English FA and the FIFA toadies insulted as ‘unpatriotic.’ Hopefully they’ve learned their lesson — and so has the IOC. Do your duty Jacques — toss the bums out. Henry Kissinger and the Partners will require nothing less.
The voters who clung to Sepp will find themselves national and international jokes; 186 discredited officials, some twits, some venal thugs. They voted for corruption, shafted their own fans and pocketed their FIFA expenses for the Zurich trip, deluded that they would be listened to by the Blatter henchmen.
Scotland and England may yet emerge as homes of the brave football officials who withstood the onslaught of despicable FIFA dupes — and from too much of their own media.
(This story was originally published in the Scottish Sunday Herald on June 5, 2011 and has been republished with the permission of the author. For more about the FIFA scandal, see Andrew Jenning’s website http://www.transparencyinsport.org/index.html.)