FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, were raided yesterday by police, as they sought evidence that former top FIFA officials Sepp Blatter, Jerome Valcke, Markus Kattner illegally awarded themselves $80 million in pay raises and bonuses, AP reports. Blatter and Valcke were previously banned from FIFA by its “ethics committee,” while Kattner was fired last month.
In a new twist to what has become a very familiar story, the payments were discovered by lawyers hired by FIFA last year to assist with its internal corruption probe. FIFA believes at least some of the payments are illegal under Swiss law, and has said it will provide evidence to the Office of the Swiss Attorney General and the U.S Department of Justice, who are already conducting significant investigations into FIFA.
FIFA released this dizzying chart of Blatter, Valcke, and Kattner’s various contracts, noting that there were often “multiple amendments to contracts often approved in close sequence.” The shady contracts and bonuses included:
- Long-term contract extensions awarded shortly before the 2011 FIFA presidential election, when it was uncertain whether or not Blatter would be re-elected
- Twenty-three million dollars in World Cup bonus payments retroactively awarded four months after the 2010 World Cup, even though employment contracts didn’t call for these bonuses
- Fourteen million dollars in bonus payments related to the 2014 World Cup, awarded in 2011
How could these three top officials get away with tens of millions of dollars in allegedly illegal payments? As always with FIFA, the foxes were charged with guarding the hen house:
It is clear that before 2013 - when FIFA created a Compensation Sub-Committee - the people who signed the contracts were in principle also the ones who approved them. They had the authority they needed, and they simply told payroll and HR, the department generally in charge for employment contracts at FIFA and which reported to Mr. Kattner, how much should be paid out and to whom.
Three weeks ago, FIFA president Gianni Infantino boldly proclaimed to the FIFA Congress, “So I can officially inform you here, the crisis is over.” Since then Kattner was fired, a German newspaper reported that Infantino schemed to force Audit and Compliance Committee chairman Domenico Scala’s resignation, and now this.
Those words were always going to come back and bite Infantino in the ass, and incredibly, over a year after Swiss authorities first raided FIFA’s office, the scope of corruption within world soccer’s governing body keeps widening.