Australia’s World Cup bid – a tale of deceit, propaganda and hypocrisy

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Recent days have seen a summary of American lawyer Michael Garcia’s investigation into alleged corruption at FIFA released, creating a storm of controversy. Hans-Joachim Eckert’s summary, which contains less than 10% of the original content from Garcia’s detailed report, has been met with criticism from not only the global footballing fraternity, but also Garcia himself.

Garcia has categorically dismissed the 42 page summary offered by Eckert, slamming the abridged report and stating that it includes “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts.” Garcia, who was paid by FIFA to conduct the investigation and publish the subsequent report, has announced that he will appeal to FIFA for his full report to be made available to the public. Within hours of the summary’s release, Garcia had also reported Eckert to FIFA’s appeals committee.

High ranking FIFA officials have been suspected of negotiating backroom deals, engaging in collusion, and accepting bribes in exchange for votes and favours for some time now. Revelations and indeed proof of corruption in recent years have seen FIFA lambasted for their unequivocally faulty collective moral compass, and rightly so. However, the shambolic mess that has occurred within world football’s governing body is replicated and indeed endorsed through the actions of Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Australian businessman and FFA Chairman Frank Lowy. The summary of Garcia’s report found in regards to the Australian bid, “there are certain indications of potentially problematic conduct of specific individuals in the light of relevant FIFA ethics rules.”

The FFA’s actions in the bidding process for the rights to host the 2022 World Cup have validated the behaviour of many a FIFA official. Not that there would be no untoward goings on at FIFA without the behaviour of the FFA, but corruption does beget corruption. Instead of reporting requests for money and other favours, either internally to FIFA or externally to the media, the FFA willingly played along with members of FIFA’s Executive Committee (ExCo). The people appointed to FIFA’s ExCo are world football’s movers and shakers, the most powerful people in the game who are responsible for choosing the venue of each World Cup.

Australia’s bid was funded by $45.86 million of taxpayer’s money. Just how these funds were distributed and used has been called into question repeatedly, especially since Australia’s embarrassing return of just a solitary vote. In the past there have been suggestions that this government money was used to grease the wheels of FIFA’s warped version of democracy. Since Garcia began his investigation, these suggestions have come to be confirmed from a number of sources.

So who paid who? Well the FFA recruited a number of ‘consultants’ during the bidding process. One of those hired was a shadowy company named Square 1 who specialise in “reputational protection” according to their website. Why did the FFA need their reputation protected if there was no untoward behaviour?

Peter Hargitay

Another hiring was that of controversial consultancy expert Peter Hargitay. He made his name in public relations by representing Union Carbide after the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984, where over 550,000 people were exposed to toxic gas. According to investigative journalist Andrew Jennings, Hargitay was a key part of Union Carbide’s media and public relations team that helped to minimise the amount of compensation the company were ordered to pay.

Hargitay then worked for Marc Rich, a Belgian born businessman who made his fortune through the sale of metals and crude oil. Rich was indicted on 65 charges including tax fraud and trading with Iran while they held American hostages. Rich also broke a United Nations embargo by trading with apartheid South Africa, as well as other countries whose governments were shrouded in controversy. Rich paid the United States government around $200 million in penalties for tax evasion but fled to Switzerland before he could face criminal prosecution, ending up on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) most wanted list.

Hargitay then took up residence in the Caribbean, where in 1995 he was charged with cocaine trafficking but ultimately acquitted. Hargitay was arrested in Miami in 1997 after a warrant had been issued by Interpol, with him wanted for fraud in Hungary and also charged with conspiracy to import cocaine to the United States. He served seven months in a Florida prison as a flight risk, before again being acquitted on all charges. Hargitay said of the incidents “I won and powerful people who tried to frame me lost.”

Hargitay then moved to Switzerland where he established ABI, a firm offering “military and government level surveillance” to his clients. Next came Hargitay’s most ‘successful’ venture, European Consultancy Network (ECN), which promised to help clients create “news items and alternative scoops that would divert, detract and destabilise imminent media interest.”

Quite who needs that sort of media protection is anyone’s guess, but in 2002 he was hired as a special advisor by one Sepp Blatter. Blatter rewarded Hargitay with a role as an executive producer on the Goal! film trilogy, with Hargitay’s son Stevie becoming an associate producer. The production company Milkshake Films has only ever been credited in three films, each of the Goal! movies.

In December 2007 he ceased working for Blatter and Hargitay’s ECN company was hired by the English Football Association to help their bid for the 2018 World Cup. When Lord Triesman was appointed to the position of chairman, he announced all bid employees would have their contracts put up for tender, which saw Hargitay and ECN leave. There are suspicions that Hargitay carried a negative reputation and his association with the England bid was hurting their chances. There is also the small matter of Hargitay being sued by Ricco Gartmann for an unpaid loan of over two million Swiss Francs. When a court ruled that he must repay the money, ECN were hurriedly relocated to Cyprus, were English banks could not reach Hargitay’s accounts.

Hargitay also worked for the now disgraced and banned from FIFA for life, Mohamed bin Hammam. He oversaw Bin Hammam’s successful election to FIFA’s ExCo in 2009. The Qatari construction magnate was publicly outed as corrupt in June of 2014 when an exposé from The Sunday Times revealed he had paid off influential figures to attain support for Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup; some three and a half years after the vote took place. Among the jaw-dropping revelations was that Bin Hammam used Asian Football Confederation (AFC) money to pay for African delegates to attend a junket in Singapore, and delivering 60 World Cup 2010 match tickets to Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Issa Hayatou, who is now FIFA’s Senior Vice President, second in charge to Blatter. Hargitay’s connection with Bin Hammam played a part in Australia moving to the AFC in 2006.

Hargitay also worked with one of FIFA’s most infamous scammers, Jack Warner, in London, Switzerland and the Caribbean.

Fedor Radmann

Another controversial hiring by the FFA was that of Fedor Radmann, a man whose name evokes derision in Germany according to Jennings. A long time friend and aide of Franz Beckenbauer, Radmann has served as the head of German sports equipment giant Adidas’ international relations team, responsible for winning high profile contracts for the company.

Reports from Jennings suggest that this team was tasked with ensuring Adidas had friends in high places, like UEFA, FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to give Adidas easier access to contracts. Looks like it worked – Adidas footballs have been used at every European Championship since 1968, every World Cup since 1970, and every Olympic Games since 1984.

At the turn of the millennia, Germany were bidding to host the 2006 World Cup and losing ground to South Africa. It is estimated by Jennings that Radmann, after being recruited by German media mogul Leo Kirch and former German international Franz Beckenbauer, spread around $3.5 million US in the form of cash and gifts in an attempt to persuade voters to choose their homeland. But what happened next? What massive effect did this have on the voters that persuaded Lowy and the FFA to recruit Radmann?

Not a single thing. None of the voters Radmann and co targeted changed their mind towards a German World Cup. However, then came one of FIFA’s darkest days. The votes were split 12-12 between Germany and South Africa, but what would happen if one of the South African minded voters were to be otherwise engaged when it came time to vote?

Jennings alleges that Charlie Dempsey took a bag with $250,000 US inside it from a bathroom and checked out of his hotel, and that Radmann was the man who ensured the exchange took place. The next time Dempsey was seen was in Singapore on a refuelling stopover. The vote went ahead without him and Germany won 12-11.

“I voted as I did because of the pressures put on me by various people,” Dempsey said when speaking to The Telegraph just days after his disappearance. Despite this egregious act, Dempsey was awarded a FIFA Order of Merit in 2004.

Radmann was involved in a conflict of interest whilst Vice President of Germany’s organising committee – he was still ‘consulting’ for Kirch who owned the TV rights for the tournament, whilst helping to organise the event. Radmann quit working for Kirch immediately to keep his position on the organising committee.

It was then discovered that Radmann still shared a relationship with Adidas, one of FIFA’s biggest sponsors. The organising committee was having differences with FIFA and yet Radmann was contributing to this breakdown in communication by yet again serving two agendas simultaneously.

Remember Germany 2006’s logo? That was designed by Radmann’s pal, Andreas Abold. When Interior Minister Otto Schilly found out that the two had worked together previously, he removed Radmann in the European summer of 2003. The press release that emerged had little basis in reality. A small excerpt is listed below.

“Vice President Fedor H. Radmann has asked the chairmanship and the advisory board to be granted the right to leave the daily operational business.”

Franz Beckenbauer added “Fedor Radmann has requested to continue to support us in an advisory capacity. Our trust and belief in him is unshaken.” Either that’s a lie or there was some delusion running through the organising committee.

Turns out it wasn’t a lie because three years later when the tournament was about to be opened by that thrilling Germany vs Costa Rica match, the organising committee’s sub office in Munich still had Fedor H. Radmann listed as its Vice President. Of the four other employees working out of that office, one was Abold, the graphic designer who had been friends with Radmann since way back when, and two of the remaining three were their wives.

Whilst all of this was occurring in Munich, Eckert, who wrote the questionable summary of Garcia’s report, was a senior prosecutor and then judge.

Les Murray & SBS

How did Hargitay come to work for the FFA? His name was forwarded to Frank Lowy by broadcaster Les Murray when Lowy was keen for Australia to join the more competitive and lucrative AFC.

“At that time Frank Lowy was [long pause] intent on Australia joining the Asian confederation, and I put it to Frank that Peter Hargitay is a man who might be able to help. Because at that time Peter Hargitay was also, well his consultancy, had Mohamed bin Hammam as a client,” Murray said when speaking to ABC’s 4 Corners programme in 2011.

“I was asked actually by Frank to see whether I could help him organise to join the AFC, so that Australia would be able to fight against stronger competitors,” Hargitay said in the same programme.

“So I first spoke with FIFA to check whether that would be possible, then found out the correct way to go about it, reported back to Frank and then I made an introduction [of Lowy] to Mohamed bin Hammam who was the AFC President, and the rest is history.”

During the bidding process Murray was editorial supervisor at Australia’s SBS Sport, which included the SBS television station and also the accompanying website The World Game. In 2008, some SBS staff received an email from Murray. The following is an excerpt from the email:

“It is not a good look if we, SBS, the most powerful voice in football appear to talk down the bid or declare it stillborn. Given that the bid has great support in Australia, including enthusiastic support by all governments, my preferred editorial policy would be to support it.”

Jesse Fink, a football writer for SBS at the time, said of the email when interviewed by the ABC’s 7.30 in 2011: “Well to be honest, I was appalled.”

In October of 2009, it was The World Game who broke an exclusive story that “top gun” Hargitay had been hired by the FFA.

Just days later Davidde Corran wrote a piece for blog website The Roar that questioned why his then employer SBS had praised the hiring of Hargitay when other sections of the media had criticised it. Like Fink, he was also interviewed by 7.30 in 2011, and said that he received a scathing email from Murray in response to the piece.

“It was interesting because one thing that was said to me was, ‘Well, if you have these things to say, we want to keep them in house, you do them through SBS,’” Corran said.

A rather interesting email when contrasted to the one quoted above, both from Murray. Essentially it appears to be a case of ‘you can’t say anything for anyone else, but you can’t say negative things about the bid for us.’

Astonishingly, this all occurred at a time when Murray had a seat on FIFA’s Ethics Committee. Murray also sent another email in 2009, advising his staff to use caution when covering the criticism of Mohamed bin Hammam.

“Another thing to consider is that as commercial partners to FIFA, we are not as an organisation permitted to ‘defame’ FIFA officials.”

Fink revealed that a piece he wrote about the FFA had been sent by his editors to the FFA for ‘fact checking’.

“I was utterly flabbergasted by it. I’ve never heard of anything like it. For me, that said everything about the lack of independence at SBS.”

Fink recently spoke to Football Central and revealed that the editorial environment at SBS was a restrictive one. He wrote a column on his own website shortly after the airing of 7.30’s investigation.

“The columns mentioned in that story have been wiped from The World Game website. I think I wrote about 500 columns for TWG. I can’t find them now…Nothing much changes in football politics but I did my best to bring some transparency to it and ask tough questions.”

When asked if there was any pressure applied on him in regards to job security, Fink revealed just how fraught the situation was.

“It was privately made clear to me in fairly strong terms by an SBS staffer that if I wanted to stay employed with the network as a freelancer that I wasn’t to write about anything negative, too political or essentially FIFA-related in the weeks leading up to the hosting rights decision in Zurich.”

Fink went on to say that he found out through another SBS staffer that his writing had attracted the attention of the FFA, who allegedly made FIFA aware of him.

“I was informed by someone very high up at SBS, an on-screen personality, that something had been said or a complaint had been made about me by FFA to FIFA itself. He said they weren’t happy about my criticism.”

When asked if SBS acted as a mouthpiece for the FFA, Fink felt they had.

“In regard to bid-related editorials, as I saw it, in my opinion, yes.”

I then asked Fink if he had any indication as to whether Les Murray’s actions were
his own or perhaps at the behest of someone else.

“Les Murray, in his capacity as editorial supervisor at SBS Sport made it clear as early as June 2008 that his ‘preferred editorial policy’ was to support the Australian bid. He wrote an email to what he called ‘the SBS team’ about it, including me. It’s in black and white.”

That email is quoted above and included in 7.30’s investigation, but when asked by 4 Corners, Murray insisted there was never any editorial pressure applied to staff.

“No, we [SBS] have never declared any editorial policy to support the bid.”

Murray also revealed that he conducted an on-camera interview with Hargitay where he addressed the consultant’s questionable past, but it was never aired because Lowy didn’t want it to be.

“Regarding the colourful history, Peter Hargitay has answered all those allegations about his past, to me, on camera, in an interview which we [SBS] never ran because Frank Lowy didn’t want it to run.”

Murray also says that Hargitay agreed to the interview on the basis that Lowy would have to sanction it being aired after recording. Once again, we are left to wonder why Hargitay needs to protect himself in this way and why Lowy chose not to run the interview when it would generate publicity for the bid.

Murray said he was happy with the answers provided by Hargitay in the mysterious interview. If they were so satisfactory, why then did Lowy not see fit to allow the interview to be shown? Murray said it would have shown Hargitay, and therefore Lowy and the FFA, in a positive light.

“My own view was that it should go to air, obviously. It was a very good interview…because it would have cleared the air.”

With public funds arguably squandered and misused, Fink added that the lack of scrutiny into the situation perplexed him.

“The level of public apathy about what was going on with the bid in 2011 just staggered me. Still does. $45.6 million dollars of taxpayers’ money was spent on the bid. We all paid for it. People should be accountable.”

How the FFA tried to buy the World Cup

Hargitay and Radmann were being paid extravagant sums of money to help the Australian bid. Hargitay’s fee was $1.35 million with a win bonus of $2.54 million. Radmann earned even more, with reports his base fee was up to $3.49 million, with a win bonus of $3.99 million. Bear in mind that Hargitay had never even seen a World Cup bidding process through to the end, much less won one. Radmann had helped to win Germany the 2006 World Cup but that relied on allegedly bribing someone to abscond, giving them the narrowest of victories. The FFA also paid $3 million to Radmann’s long time partner Andreas Abold for “bid book production and advice.” As mentioned earlier, Abold is a graphic designer.

AFRICA

The Sunday Times scoop that revealed just who had paid who and how much in relation to Qatar provides a further insight into the Australian bid. Head of communications for Australia’s bid was Bonita Mersiades, a former team manager for the Socceroos, Australia’s national team. She has said that two of those implicated in the sting, Jacques Anouma and Amos Adamu, were targeted by FFA consultants Hargitay and Radmann as key figures to get onside. Anouma is still a member of FIFA’s ExCo and Adamu was banned for three years in November 2010, before the 2018 & 2022 votes were held.

With Bin Hammam since found guilty of bribing African delegates, it is no wonder Australia’s bid made little impression on the continent.

CONCACAF

Hargitay’s strategy for winning CONCACAF votes was to have Jack Warner back Australia if they survived the first round of voting and the United States did not, a risky tactic.

“Jack apparently stuck by his promise, voted USA, and had we [Australia] survived the first round, that was the agreement, that if USA were no longer with it [eliminated], then he would for us,” Hargitay said.

But how did the FFA keep Warner on their side to execute this plan, if it had panned out?

Hargitay is quoted as having said “You want the World Cup? You got to give Jack Warner what he wants.”

In August of 2010 a visiting party of senior officials from Australia’s bid arrived in Trinidad to visit Warner, Hargitay amongst them.

Warner wanted cash, and his cover would be that it was to be invested in upgrading the Dr João Havelange Centre of Excellence, a football facility whose ownership has long been shrouded in suspicion. The training centre is situated on land owned by Warner through a handful of investment companies. Warner suggested that the near flawless facility needed a facelift, and a month later a cheque arrived for $462,200. Including the cost of the trip to Trinidad as well as wining and dining Warner, the price came to nearly half a million dollars. A full investigative report which makes for stupefying reading can be viewed here.

“The funds were allocated from FFA’s international football development budget at the time and were not part of the government funds provided to the World Cup bid,” said FFA spokesman Kyle Patterson.

So the FFA admit they threw money in a roughly Caribbean direction. Why then is this act of generosity in helping upgrade a football facility in a small country not mentioned anywhere? There is no public record of their trip, no press release, and no cheesy photo op.

Then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd met with Warner in November of 2009 where he would offer a gift to Warner, with the suggestion inside the FFA that a single expensive bottle of red wine would do nicely. Not so, said Hargitay in an email.

“A bottle of wine is a bit cheesy/cheap. If not embarrassing. If anything, a case is more of an idea.”

OCEANIA

One of the others implicated by The Sunday Times’ investigation was Reynald Temarii, who along with a laughably insignificant fine was suspended for a year. Mersiades revealed when speaking to 4 Corners, as The Age had in December of 2010, that the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) made a list of demands in exchange for their support of the Australia bid.

“There was a meeting between Reynald Temarii who was then President of Oceania Football Confederation and the CEO of Oceania Ty Nicholas, as well as I believe the chairman [of FFA, Lowy] and Ben Buckley regarding various issues to do with Australia and the Oceania Football Confederation. After that, I was shown a list of requirements of Oceania from FFA.”

The requests that Oceania made included a number of Hyundai (a major sponsor of FFA) vehicles and a training facility located in Auckland. The list shown to Mersiades also specified that Oceania wanted the broadcast rights to the A-League and Socceroos matches within the area their confederation encompassed.

An internal FFA document listed what was required to ensure the ExCo members who would vote on the World Cup were happy with Australia’s bid. The document stated that “OFC has provided a list of possible areas of mutual co-operation and collaboration. [FFA must] work with AusAID and commercial partners to deliver on OFC’s request.”

A later document stated that the FFA had chosen not to fund the “academy program for Auckland,” but did enter discussions with Hyundai to donate cars to the OFC.

Canberra based aid agency AusAID denies it provided any aid to Australia’s bid, but said that for more than a decade that it has supported initiatives that promote development through sport in the Pacific region.

But a letter from Ben Buckley to Bruce Davis, then Director-General of AusAID, suggests that the FFA saw AUSAid as key to its bid. Buckley asked for “an additional $4-5 million over four years to provide football delivered international aid to nations in the Pacific.”

In August 2009, five months after that letter was sent, an agreement was signed by Buckley, Temarii and then Prime Minister Rudd that promised “funding of up to AU$4 million over 3 years.”

ASIA

In a letter to Rudd in 2008, Bin Hammam expressed his support for Australia’s bid, which at the time was for either the 2018 or 2022 World Cups.

“Chairman Lowy and I are working closely and diligently to realise the dream of Asia and Australia hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Australia,” Bin Hammam wrote.

In the same letter, he made reference to ‘Vision Asia’ the AFC’s overarching legacy scheme which Mersiades says was Bin Hammam’s brain child.

“I remember when he [Bin Hammam] was here [Australia] in 2008 he actively sought support for Vision Asia,” Mersiades said.

Just five days after the agreement with the OFC, and the FFA had another coup. They signed a memorandum of understanding with the AFC. A bid budget statement prepared for the FFA board that showed over $5 million was allocated to Vision Asia.

The amount paid to Vision Asia that came from taxpayer funds was less than $2 million, with 4 Corners reporting that the difference was met with FFA’s own funds.

But then Lowy and the FFA were faced with the harsh realities of high level politics – people lie. Bin Hammam had supported Australia’s bid until June of 2010, when he announced that Australia would not have the support of the AFC for the 2018 tournament.

“We are going to recognise and support Europe,” he told FIFA in a hammer blow to Australia’s hopes.

It is interesting that Hargitay, the man hired by the FFA because he was such close friends with Bin Hammam, was unable to convince the bid committee to forget about 2018.

Hargitay says Australia had no intentions of hosting the 2018 World Cup, and was only ever interested in the 2022 edition.

“We never wanted to go for 2018 because we knew that 2018 was going to be [held in] Europe.”

Asked why even bother campaigning for 2018, Hargitay explained policy was not his domain.

“Well that was not my decision, was it?” he asked rhetorically, before adding “My decision was to make sure that the bid [FFA] understood that 2018 was never going to happen for Australia. Ever.”

Was it illogical and ultimately irresponsible of FIFA to have two World Cups being bid for simultaneously? Mersiades certainly thinks so.

“Yes, it was. That was one of the two key flawed parts of the bidding guidelines which set up an inappropriate environment for bidders.”

Mersiades went on to explain how the structure of the bidding process encouraged collusion between bidding associations.

“It’s an obvious strategy if you’ve got a duel bidding process that you would look at ‘well, who can we possibly swap some votes with?’”

The Consultants

Andreas Abold was paid $3 million to produce Australia’s bid book, a lengthy document which detailed why Australia was a suitable candidate to host the World Cup from a technical aspect – stadiums, hotels, transport infrastructure etc. But his consultancy colleagues and even he himself said repeatedly that it wasn’t an important factor in securing the tournament.

“Peter Hargitay, Fedor Radmann and Andreas Abold said to us [the bid committee] time and time again, that the bid book, the technical assessment, the technical inspection and the final presentation were not influential in the decision making,” said Mersiades.

The final accounts put these processes at $10.3 million, almost a quarter of the entire budget for something that made little difference to the outcome.

“They don’t read the bid books,” Jennings said when he spoke to 4 Corners.

Hargitay was well aware of Radmann’s less than glowing reputation in Europe and in an internal email he made it very clear that he wanted his involvement to remain as hidden as possible.

“Please do not list Fedor in the recipient lines!!!!! You simply MUST NOT do that…Why? Because you are thus jeopardising everything,” Hargitay wrote.

Hargitay told 4 Corners that he did not remember writing such an email, but it could have been related to “a specific campaign aspect in a specific region or something to do with maybe an ExCo member that he [Radmann] didn’t get along with.”

Hiding Radmann’s involvement sends a message that all those less than ethical deals Jennings has said Radmann was involved in did in fact take place. That his presence in the Australian bid would hurt their chances because he was regarded as incompetent by FIFA’s high rollers.

Jennings was surprised that a man as experienced in the ways of business such as Lowy would allow Hargitay and Radmann into his inner sanctum.

“I’m surprised that a man of the business acumen of Frank Lowy allowed these people [Hargitay & Radmann] to persuade him that they could achieve anything for Australia. It was never going to go to Australia, Hargitay couldn’t deliver it and Radmann knew that he couldn’t either. And you suckers paid them.”

Hargitay admitted that the campaign was always going to be incredibly difficult.

“So we lost. Are we proud of it? Of course not. Could we have avoided it? Maybe not.”

Whistle blowing

Mersiades asked one too many questions in regards to ethics and process during the bid, and was fired in January of 2010. Mersiades then met three times with FIFA’s investigator Michael Garcia, as she reported what dealings Lowy & the FFA had been engaging in.

“There’s a culture of silence in FIFA,” said Mersiades when speaking to Bloomberg media.

“There are issues right at the very top of FIFA that they wouldn’t like being made public so it’s in their interest to discredit it.”

Once again, the pieces of the intricate puzzle seem to fit. Phaedra Al-Majid was the international media officer for Qatar’s bid, a role very similar to that which Mersiades held with the Australian committee. Al-Majid made claims that CAF President Issa Hayatou was among a number of officials paid to vote for Qatar. Al-Majid cancelled a planned meeting with FIFA in May of 2011 when the governing body refused to agree to her demands which included “an unlimited witness protection program.”

Two months later and Al-Majid issued a statement saying that she “lied about all facts concerning the behavior (sic) and practice of the Qatar 2022 bid,” with her accusations “full in fabrication on my behalf.”

Al-Majid’s statement also made specific mention that the retraction of her claims had nothing to do with Qatar’s bid committee, and said it was a personal decision.

“I also wish to state that the decision to make this admission is entirely my own. I have not been subject to any form of pressure or been offered any financial inducement to do so.”

Whether you believe that or not is up to you. However, if we take Mersiades’ quote earlier about it being in FIFA’s “interest to discredit” claims of corruption, a worrying trend begins to emerge. Mersiades spoke out and was sacked, as well as being discredited in Eckert’s summary of Garcia’s report. Al-Majid spoke out and after not being offered protection, her claims were retracted. We can’t know for sure if the four events are related or not, but the order of circumstances does make one wonder.

Al-Majid has recently spoken to the media and said that she is “tired of FIFA’s culture of secrecy”.

“After what they’ve done to me and Bonita, who else is going to want to come forward and be a FIFA whistleblower?”

Al-Majid was approached by the FBI as part of an ongoing probe into corruption in world football.

“The FBI wanted me to get in contact with the Qataris so that they could admit the fact there was a deal between me and them,” she said.

“They recorded me speaking to a senior official from Qatar. The senior official admitted there was a deal for (retracting) the affidavit and they would provide a letter saying they wouldn’t sue me.”

Mersiades wrote in June of 2014 that the subsequent fall from grace and lifetime ban of Bin Hammam was “vindication of Phaedra Al-Majid”.

Perhaps Michael Garcia’s full report, if indeed we ever see it, can serve as vindication to Bonita Mersiades, Jesse Fink, Davidde Corran and others who stood up for what was right; those who refusEd to sell their souls and bury secrets, but instead sought to bring scrutiny and coverage to these egregious acts perpetrated by those mentioned throughout this article.

Follow Andrew on twitter: @Cussen91

Andrew Cussen

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