Guido Tognoni is a well-connected man. The term is used without euphemism nor metaphor. He was previously FIFA’s chief marketing officer, a media director, and spin doctor to FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Tognoni was the kind of guy who would whisper into the ear of favored journalists letting them in on tidbits, gossip, and throwing bait for stories.
He was fired from FIFA in the mid-1990s, then worked for UEFA, was rehired by FIFA, and then fired again in 2003. FIFA paid his approximate USD$300,000 per year salary for a further three years. That’s “unemployment” for you.
So when Tognoni describes FIFA as “just like a little Mafia”, which he did when quizzed by reporters from France Football magazine investigating “QatarGate”, the comment comes with some definite perspective.
Let’s be fair and generous and say that Tognoni’s words were a little lost in translation. Let’s assume he did not mean to say that FIFA operates in such a way that it is involved in “organized crime”, as mafias in the broadest sense tend to be. Let us assume that Tognoni only meant to say that FIFA’s networks are run in similar ways to groups or gangs that practice organized crime. That FIFA looks after its own members in methods similar to the protective nature of organized criminals. That FIFA is very protective of its inner circles and ensures that if a member of the organization makes a sacrifice for the benefit of the organization then this will always be remembered later down the track. Say, when the coast is clear and after he has taken one for the team. Hypothetically.
Then let us look at Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s Secretary-General. In 2006, Valcke was FIFA’s TV and Marketing Director. He was fired amid the ugly fallout of the FIFA/MasterCard/Visa scandal. A statement from FIFA at the time was brutal:
“The FIFA employees who had conducted negotiations with VISA and MasterCard were accused of repeated dishonesty during negotiations and of giving false information to the FIFA-deciding bodies in question. Even though the judgment has proved to be very biased in favor of MasterCard, the fact cannot be overlooked that FIFA’s negotiations breached its business principles. FIFA cannot possibly accept such conduct among its own employees.”
That’s Valcke that the statement is referring to. The actual court judgment was even more damning and you can read here more of the detail, including a link to the full ruling by Judge Loretta Preska from the New York District Court:
“FIFA’s negotiators lied repeatedly to MasterCard, including when they assured MasterCard that, consistently with MasterCard’s first right to acquire, FIFA would not sign a deal for the post-2006 sponsorship rights with anyone else unless it could not reach agreement with MasterCard.
FIFA’s negotiators lied to VISA when they repeatedly responded to the direct question of whether MasterCard had any incumbency rights by assuring VISA that MasterCard did not.
FIFA’s negotiators provided VISA with blow-by-blow descriptions of the status of the FIFA-MasterCard negotiations while concealing from its long-time partner MasterCard both the fact of the FIFA-VISA negotiations as well as the status of those negotiations – an action VISA’s president admitted would not be “fair play.”
FIFA’s marketing director lied to both MasterCard, FIFA’s long-time partner, and to VISA, its negotiating counterparty, to both of which FIFA, under Swiss law, owed a duty of good faith. When, pursuant to his engineering, VISA raised its bid to the same level as MasterCard’s, he declined his subordinates’ suggestion to give MasterCard the opportunity to submit a higher bid based on his concern for his own reputation with the FIFA Board. He also declined his subordinates’ recommendation that he recommend to the FIFA Board that it continue with its prior approval of MasterCard as the post-2006 sponsor. Instead, he told the board it was difficult for him to make a recommendation and never mentioned MasterCard’s first right to acquire the post-2006 sponsorship.”
Again, that’s Valcke that the statement is referring to. The Judge added that Valcke’s credibility had been “totally destroyed”. Oh. Like, totally.
Except, in certain circles, Valcke’s credibility hadn’t been destroyed at all. Valcke was appointed as a consultant to Brazil’s bid for the 2014 World Cup by good friend Ricardo Teixeira. You know Teixeira. The guy that’s now swimming in a USD$41 million sea of exposed corruption alongside his father-in-law Joao Havelange.
Valcke received a reported $100,000 in fees from the Brazil bid for three months work. “I travelled to Sao Paulo two or three times,” Valcke recalled. “I offered commercial advice. I was out of FIFA at the time and could do whatever I wanted.”
In May 2007, an appeals court panel vacated the original MasterCard judgment – but not the evidence. In June, FIFA and MasterCard agreed to settle, with FIFA owing the credit card company $90 million in compensation. Six days later, Valcke was indeed doing what he wanted. Just over six months after the MasterCard fiasco, he was back with FIFA. Promoted, in fact, to the position of Secretary-General at the behest of FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
To celebrate, he threw a weekend party at his house in Corsica for his 10 “friends” that had stuck by him over the past few months. “These guys from the business were the only ones calling me and saying, ‘Let’s think about what you want to do next,’ ” he told The Independent newspaper in an interview.
“The moral box is empty,” Guido Tognoni told an Australian radio station in 2011.