By Che Ambe
“Nobody is above or beyond the law”. FBI Director Comey said. “We will not stop until we send messages that this is not the way things should be and that they must be different.”
The press briefing followed the rounding up on Wednesday, May, 27, 2015, in Zurich of seven FIFA officials by Swiss officials at the behest of U.S authorities following a lengthy corruption probe. Swiss authorities have equally opened investigations on other top FIFA officials prominent amongst whom is FIFA’s Senior Vice President Mr. Issa Hayatou, who also doubles as the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Mr. Hayatou has been mired in corruption controversy of late concerning the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting awards.
Mr. Issa Hayatou
A 2014 leaked report by the The Sunday Times, in the UK accuses FIFA officials including Mr. Hayatou of receiving bribes from a disgraced Qatari official Bin Hammam. The official made payments of about $5m to numerous FIFA officials in exchange for their votes. The paper accuses Mr. Bin Hammam of funneling payments in a slush account to about 30 associations in Africa to influence their voting decisions. Although most of the officials had no voting powers, the strategy by Mr. Hammam, the paper says was to swell popular support for the Qatari bid which in turn will influence the four African executive members with voting powers. Only 3 of the members finally voted after Nigeria’s Amos Adamu, was sanctioned by FIFA for 3 years for soliciting bribes in the course of the bidding process.
The accusations against Mr. Hayatou included the payment of $400,000 to the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) through FIFA goal project headed by Bin Hammam. The paper alleges that Mr. Hayatou accepted juicy packages from Qatari’s 2022 world cup organizing committee such as luxury accommodations and business class tickets, 60 world cup tickets, payment of Hayatou’s medical bills to a private clinic following the Qatari vote among other benefits. CAF vehemently dismissed the allegations.
Mr. Bin Hammam
Mr. Hayatou as FIFA Senior Vice President has equally been at the helm of African football- CAF since 1988, and as executive committee member of FIFA since 1990. He is equally a member of several committees in the football governing body such as the organizing committee for the World cup, strategic and development committees, bureau 2018 world cup in Russia. In April this year, Mr. Hayatou, engineered a change of the CAF status, which bars present officials from serving after 70 years. The change paved the way for Mr. Hayatou, now 68 to be able to stand for yet another term in 2017.
Despite being the head of the Confederation of African Football for a quarter of a century, he has failed to improve the continent’s football infrastructure nor pressure African leaders to invest in the beloved game. His native country of Cameroon’s football association FECAFOOT, is rife with corruption with regular FIFA suspensions stemming also from government interference.
With Swiss prosecutors opening investigations, “against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering in connection with the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 football World Cups”. Hayatou might be the big fish that finally sheds more light on the nature of corruption in the ranks of the managers of the world’s most popular sport- soccer.
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