Posted: 6/8/2011


          Three wise men have been approached by Sepp Blatter to help on his new committee to help clean-up the federation. Dr. Henry Kissinger, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1973 has followed the sport since he grew up in Germany. He was on the USA 1994 World Cup committee, helped modernize the I.O.C. and is very expensive. Placido Domingo, the Spaniard, is also a fan and cheaper-he is only a tenner!!(tenor). Johan Cruyff ? Well, great player and coach, but I would never buy a used car from him-it would cost more than the latest model!      

          Many years ago I was visiting the old FIFA Headquarters at 11 Hitzigweg on Sonnenberg, 'Sunny Hill, high above Lake Zurich and next door to some vineyards.

         It had been a wise purchase by former FIFA president, Sir Stanley Rous, who had been a pioneering FIFA referee and secretary of The Football Association and who was knighted for organizing the 1948 Olympic Games in London.  Although expanded many times, the big house has now been replaced by the huge FIFA HOUSE near to the terminus of the tramline no. 6 at ZURICH ZOO- quite appropriate.  Of course FIFA execs. take limos not tramcars.

          Anyway, I was meeting with a then junior referee administrator and he told me an interesting tale. He had just received a fax from a FIFA referee after a big tournament, asking how to repay expenses that he had been overpaid. AMAZING !. I happened to be a long time friend of this referee, who I won't name, and did not mention that fact in my meeting. 

          On many occasions I have met referees and politicians who have a very different story. They have been at FIFA or UEFA matches or meetings and had been encouraged to 'pad' their expenses, adding an extra day, taxi fares, meals, entertainment etc.  Last week Graham Taylor, former England manager said in the UK press how he had flown to Zurich for a 'Technical Committee' meeting. His expenses had been covered in advance by his employer in London, but the FIFA people told him to ask for expenses from them and open a Swiss bank account. 'Everyone does it" he was told.

        During the same era I had been staying with friends in Rio de Janeiro. I had breakfsat with the daughter of a local FIFA referee who had been in the middle at a FIFA World Cup Final. She knew a friend who worked in Dr.Joao Havalenge's office while he was FIFA president. We took the elevator up to the suite of offices in Copacabana and were ushered into a lounge as the great man had not yet arrived.  There was the astonishing sight of three CONMEBOL officials(the South American Confederation) dividing up a pile of $100 and $20 US dollar bills. They were their per-diems for a recent trip.

       Finally, the President showed up and we had a brief conversation in French, his mother tongue since his English was not much better than my Portuguese.  A few years ago ISL, the company that found sponsorships for FIFA and other sporting bodies, went bankrupt and there was an ugly scandal and rumours of vaste million dollar bribes. 

       A payment of 2 million Swiss francs evidently arrived in Zurich into FIFA's general account by mistake, a 'thank you' for Havelange. It was hastily transferred to his personal account on the authority of the then general secretary-Sepp Blatter. Both deny it, and evidently the Swiss authorities are going to re-open the case.   The three wise men have yet to agree to Sepp's invitation, and might not want to get involved. We shall see!