Last December, just before FIFA's Grandees decided which World Cup host candidate's
bribes were the juiciest bid was in the best interests of the sport, the BBC aired a report by Andrew Jennings entitled "FIFA's Dirty Secrets".
You'll doubtless recall that the primary focus of the story was some smuggled FIFA paperwork which showed that ExCo member Ricardo Texiera of Brazil and his (now former) father-in-law Joao Havelange had taken millions of dollars in bribes from International Sports and Leisure (ISL) in return for awarding them merchandising and broadcast rights for successive World Cups.
FIFA's ExCo was of course collectively outraged and whatever slim chance England had for winning the bid (which, in truth, was pretty much zero anyway; the Brits sent Prince William and David Beckham around for pictures and handshakes while the Russians skipped the niceties and just sent cash) went up in smoke.
In truth, mostly what Jennings did was add documentation to a story everybody already knew: the members of FIFA's ExCo had been bribed up to their eyeballs by the guys running ISL.
(In 2011, Jennings testified before Brazil's Congress that he had evidence that Havelange had pocketed as much as US$ 50 million from ISL. A few months later the IOC initiated an ethics investigation against Havelange after receiving evidence that he had received US$ 1 million bribe from ISL, this being the exact same million bucks noted in the report released yesterday.
Havelange immediately resigned, citing "ill health" and the case was closed.)
So all of these ISL bribes have been public knowledge for a long time.
The only thing we didn't have was the court's official findings, which would have ordinarily been released as a matter of course but FIFA filed numerous legal objections, insisting that the files be kept secret.
Sepp Blatter spent millions and millions on some of the priciest lawyers Switzerland has available in an effort to keep the report from seeing the light of day.
But then, last Fall, as the stink of FIFA corruption became so strong that even the world's otherwise flaccid sporting media began talking about it, Blatter switched tactics and announced that he intended to release the information at the ExCo meeting in December.
Yesterday's official media release from FIFA made the point this way:
"This decision by the Federal Court is in line with what FIFA and the FIFA President have been advocating since 2011"
Left unmentioned is the fact that since 2005 Blatter has spent literally millions of FIFA's dollars fighting like hell to keep the report sealed, despite the fact that Sepp himself has never been accused of taking a single dime of ISL money.
The reason is that while he didn't profit directly, he a) presided over a process which the Court documents confirm was outrageously corrupt, b) knew all about every bit of it (he's identified as "P1" in the transcript, a "non-accused third party"), c) not only did nothing to stop it or expose it but he actively stalled, obstructed and hindered the investigation in every way possible in order to protect the guilty.
As the court notes:
"The finding that FIFA had knowledge of the bribery payments to persons within its organs is not questioned.
"This is firstly because various members of the executive committee had received money, and furthermore, among other things, it was confirmed by the former chief financial officer of FIFA as a witness that a certain payment made to Joao Havelange... amounting to CHF1m was mistakenly directly transferred to a FIFA account; not only the CFO had knowledge of this, but also, among others, P1 would also have known about it."
Last Fall, however, as the "Clean Up the Mess at FIFA" uproar was at its peak, word came down that the Swiss Supreme Court was getting ready to rule against FIFA and order the release of the report.
So Blatter did the smart thing: he announced that he, Sepp Blatter, Crusader for Truth and Justice, was going to let the world see the Court findings as part of his determination to "expose corruption".
When you get lemons, make lemonade.
Immediately, however, two other parties filed suit asking the court to keep the file secret, claiming it would do them irreparable harm, and everybody knew full well - even yours truly named them, on multiple occasions - that it was Texiera and Havelange.
(Jennings also implicated Paraguay's foul and disgusting Nicolas Leoz, the man who told England he would vote for them if they gave him a knighthood, invited him to Prince William's wedding and renamed the FA Cup after him) and Cameroon's equally detestable Issa Hayatou, who was disqualified from the WC vote after being found guilty of accepting bribes, but neither one was named in the report).
Point being that the actual report didn't tell anyone much of anything they didn't already know, assuming that they've paid even the slightest attention.
The only real point of interest is the amount specifically named in connection with Texiera: US$ 13 million, and that's only the amount that they can prove. Odds are there was much more for which no evidence exists. As for Havelange, Jenning's estimate of $US 50 million is likely much closer to the mark.
What the numbers do is allow us to get past the rumors, gossip and accusations that have followed "Tricky Ricky" around for years and begin to flesh out the size and scope of the criminality of a man who reportedly maintains a Swiss bank account with at least US$ 150 million in it.
The same guy who, shielded from consequences of his insatiable greed and theft by Sepp Blatter, not only kept his seat on FIFA's highest governing body and continued to sell his vote to the highest bidder (see: Qatar, World Cup 2022) but who named himself President of the Brazil 2014 Organizing committee with Sepp's blessings and proceeded to a) figure out new and exciting ways to pocket more millions of bucks and b) position himself to replace Blatter himself in 2015.
We need to be clear here: unlike a Jack Warner, Texiera wouldn't get out of bed for a measly 750k in hurricane relief money or waste his time peddling World Cup tickets to tour operators.
Warner-style petty theft is simply too small time for Texiera; he's a man who thinks much bigger.
Next: Jack Warner goes to school