In early May The Daily Maverick interviewed author and investigative journalist Andrew Jennings, the guy who’s dedicated a career to proving that Fifa is an organised crime group. Turns out that Jennings smelt the rat in Australia’s World Cup 2022 bid as early as February – the same rat that the Sydney Morning Herald has just confirmed.
Andrew Jennings, perpetual thorn in Fifa’s side and author of the book Foul: The Secret World of Fifa, called it over four months ago. On February 22, in an article on his Website transparencyinsport.org, the investigative journalist picked up a fact that a fellow British journalist thought inconsequential. The fact was buried in a small piece on Australia’s 2022 World Cup bid by Daily Mail reporter Charles Sale, and it was this: Franz Beckenbauer’s closest aide, Fedor Radmann, would be one of the key men.
“Had the reporter been from southern Germany the giggles beginning in Bavaria would soon have gusted across the land all the way to the Berlin Bundestag,” wrote Jennings. “They will now. Fedor Radmann! Working for an ageing billionaire who wants the World Cup? He-he. Wouldn’t be the first time! Ho-ho. And last time there was enough trouble to last anyone else a lifetime!”
The trouble, according to Jennings, began thirty years ago, when the young Radmann was made head of the Adidas International Relations Team. The allegation is that a cabal of “tricksters” initially got their people to head the big federations – football, athletics and the Olympics – which was why Adidas boots, kit and footballs became pretty much the only sports brand on TV at major global events. But soon, wrote Jennings, it struck Adidas boss Horst Dassler that he should own the broadcast contracts to the events as well, so he set up the (now infamous) firm International Sports and Leisure (ISL), which allegedly bought the rights by paying over $100-million in bribes to officials of Fifa and the other bodies. Radmann, needless to say, was a major player at ISL.
In the late ‘80s, when Dassler succumbed to cancer, Radmann went to work for his “first billionaire” – media mogul Leo Kirch. Retaining close links to the old benefactor, Radmann eventually set himself up in a private firm with Andreas Abold, cast as the smooth front man. Come 1998, and Fifa president Sepp Blatter – who (again that word “allegedly”) had just secured his position by disbursing 20 envelopes stuffed with $50,000 in cash to key football executives (see The Daily Maverick’s Sepp Blatter: A life less publicised) – promised the 2006 World Cup to South Africa. Apparently Kirch wasn’t happy; he’d bought the TV rights to the tournament in 1996 and, as per Jennings, he’d make more money if the thing were held at home. So Kirch put Beckenbauer, head of the rival German bid, onto Radmann and Abold.
Jennings, in his February 2010 piece, provided the rest: “The young man [Abold] does the pretty pictures. Fedor will get the votes in. That’s the plan.
“This is how he did it. On my desk here, next to my keyboard, is a copy of a confidential letter written by one of Old Leo’s semi-submerged lawyers to one of Leo’s Biggest Suits back in 2000 in the weeks before Fifa’s 24 executive board members selected a host nation.
“It’s a work-in-progress memo. The fix was already in. Look, there’s funny Fedor’s name on the first line of the two-page upsum of how the money was being spread around. The first item is the suit-casing of US$1 million to one of the most influential men in Fifa’s orbit.”
Jennings’s piece went on for another three pages, detailing numbered bank accounts, “juicy” Fifa contracts, Charles Dempsey’s non-vote that cost South Africa the 2006 event, and much else besides. Radmann was named as a key point man in all the shenanigans, but unfortunately the story wasn’t taken seriously, mainly because it was written in Jennings’s trademark hysteric-cum-sarcastic style, which for some reason disturbs the mainstream press.
On June 30 2010, though, Jennings was vindicated. The Sydney Morning Herald ran an exclusive in which Radmann and one Peter Hargitay, working for billionaire and chairman of Football Federation Australia Frank Lowy (the self-same “ageing billionaire who wants the World Cup,” as per Jennings’s words above), stand to receive $11.37-million (Aus) in fees and bonuses, 25 percent of the value of the entire Australian taxpayer-funded bid.
”The FFA is completely transparent in its dealings with government and has provided all information regarding the bidding process requested by government,” Ben Buckley, chief executive of the Australian bid, told the newspaper. He declined to say what Radmann and Hargitay are being paid, but confidential reports in the possession of the journalists left them in little doubt as to the truth.
Crucially, the Sydney Morning Herald also revealed that the FFA “bought pearl necklaces for the wives of many of the 24 Fifa executive committee members who in December will decide which countries will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups,” offered “an all-expenses paid trip to the South American Fifa executive committee member Rafael Salguero and his wife to Australia this year to mark his birthday,” and “paid for a Caribbean football team linked to the Fifa vice-president Jack Warner to travel to Cyprus last year.”
So then who’s Hargitay? All that needs to be said, perhaps, is that he was “acquitted twice of cocaine trafficking in the 1990s”.
By Kevin Bloom
Read more: Andrew Jennings in transparencyinsport.org, Charles Sale in the Daily Mail, Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Maverick interviews Andrew Jennings, Sepp Blatter: A life less publicised in The Daily Maverick
Main photo: FIFA PRESIDENT SEPP BLATTER HANDS OVER A COPY OF THE WORLD CUP TO FRANZ BECKENBAUER AFTER THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE 2006 WORLD CUP HOST. FIFA president Sepp Blatter (L) with a copy of the World Cup, Franz Beckenbauer (C), president of the German 2006 World Cup bid committee, and Fedor Radmann (R), member of the German bid committee pose after the announcement that Germany is going to host the 2006 World Cup in Zurich, July 6.
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