What have yodling, folk dancing and football got in common? Well, they all have been granted tax free status by the Swiss government.
That may change very soon!! FIFA has been in Zurich since 1925 after moving from Paris, and after recent accusations of bribery and vote buying, public opinion and legislators are having second thoughts. FIFA has annual revenues of $1.3 billion and with other stories of sordid politicians from third world countries hiding billions in secret bank accounts laws may be changed.
Roland Rico Buechel of the Swiss People's Party wrote the proposal that may become law to take away generous tax breaks from the federation and many other sporting bodies headquartered in the country. Buechel is, incidentaly, a former employee of ISL, the company that was employed by FIFA to get commercial income. ISL spectacularly went bust a few years ago amid wild rumours of bribes to FIFA officials.
There was a federal court case in the town of Zug, between Lucerne and Zurich, which I know quite well. For the last two years or so FIFA's lawyers have been fighting to block the information about two FIFA officials who received huge bribes, and other officials who covered up the information. They may fail and the revelations will be SENSATIONAL !!
One is former President Dr. Joao Havelange of Brazil, two time Olympic swimmer and water polo athlete. Read the excellent book 'How They Stole the Game', by David Yallop. one the the best investigative authors of our time. I was at the FIFA Congress at the the Convention Centre in Frankfurt, on the eve of the 1974 World Cup when Havelange deposed England's Sir Stanley Rous after the second round of voting in the presidential election.
We were all curious about how the Brazilian won, and how he had managed to visit 86 different countries in the lead up to the election. Yallop interviewed Dr Lobo, a former business partner of Havelange. He claimed that he used money embezzled from the Brazilian Sports Federation, CBD, and other sources. He also describes events at the Hotel Meridien in Paris prior to the disputed 1998 election, after 24 years rule.
The Swede, Lennart Johansson, UEFA President, thought that he had the votes, with European and African blocks of votes. However Sepp Blatter's Middle East backers flew into the City of Light with over $1 million to hand out to those willing to switch sides. Blatter won! Who brought the cash for the $50,000 'sweetners' ? None other than Mohamed bin Hammam of QATAR.