Thu, Sep 17, 2015 - Page 19 News List

FIFA out of pocket: letter

Reuters, ZURICH, Switzerland

FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke listens during a news conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, on July 24.

Photo: EPA

Soccer world governing body FIFA was due half of the advertising revenue from a 2005 media deal it signed with a Caribbean soccer organization, but did not receive any of it, according to a termination letter sent by FIFA.

The contract was signed between FIFA and the Caribbean Football Union and involved media rights in parts of the Caribbean for the World Cup competitions in 2010 and last year.

In the July 2011 letter, two FIFA officials wrote to the Caribbean Football Union to say they had expected FIFA to receive 50 percent of all revenue from the sale of broadcast sponsorship and TV commercials.

“To date, FIFA has not received any payments,” FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke and FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil wrote.

Media contracts can be extremely lucrative for FIFA and other sports organizations because of the enormous number of people who watch events such as the World Cup and the advertisements that go with them.

It could not be determined how much money was at stake in this instance.

A FIFA spokeswoman declined to comment, citing ongoing investigations, but said FIFA was continuing to cooperate with those investigations.

Swiss authorities have said they plan to investigate the 2005 deal, after a television news report said that FIFA sold the media rights to the Caribbean organization for far below market value.

The Swiss are already investigating how FIFA awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights.

Caribbean Football Union general secretary Neil Cochrane said in a statement that the group’s current executive committee has no knowledge of contracts signed by its previous leader, Jack Warner, and that those contracts had not been ratified by the group’s governing congress.

Warner on Tuesday declined to comment.

US authorities threw FIFA into turmoil in May when they disclosed an indictment against nine soccer officials and five sports marketing executives on charges including racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud. US authorities said the men orchestrated multimillion dollar bribery schemes over 24 years.

On Saturday last week, FIFA defended its handling of the 2005 contract after Swiss broadcaster SRF reported that Warner transferred the media rights to a company he controlled and then resold them in a deal worth between US$15 million and US$20 million.

In a statement, FIFA, citing the revenue-sharing provision, said it had been promised more than an up-front fee and accused the Caribbean group of failing to meet its financial obligations.

According to FIFA’s termination letter, the Caribbean soccer group was delinquent on other payments to FIFA as early as December 2009 and was in breach of the contract as early as 2007 with regard to a sub-license.

It was not clear whether FIFA considered terminating the contract before July 2011.

Warner in May was indicted in the US on charges that he solicited bribes for other soccer-related contracts he controlled.

He has said he did nothing wrong and has vowed to fight extradition from Trinidad to New York.

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