Interpol has frozen a €20 ($22.5 million) donation, paid to it by FIFA, to fund a joint anti-match-fixing program.
The 10-year Integrity in Sport initiative was designed to stamp out fixed games orchestrated by criminal betting syndicates, but Interpol said this week that the FIFA corruption scandal had made the relationship untenable.
“In light of the current context surrounding FIFA, while Interpol is still committed to developing our Integrity in Sport program, I have decided to suspend the agreement,” said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock. “All external partners, whether public or private, must share the fundamental values and principles of the organization, as well as those of the wider law enforcement community.”
The terms and conditions of the deal, signed in 2011, state that that FIFA must remain “compatible with the principles, aims and activities of Interpol,” but, following the arrest of seven FIFA officials as the result of a massive FBI corruption probe, Interpol may be forgiven for feeling that the soccer governing body has not kept up its end of the bargain.
It begs the question, though, why was Interpol, with its wide-reaching access to an expansive network of law enforcement agencies, not aware of FIFA corruption in 2011?
The British press was crying foul as far back as 2006. This was the year that journalist Andrew Jennings published Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote-Rigging and Ticket Scandals. The name says it all.
Also in 2006, Panorama, a BBC current affairs program, broadcast a documentary asserting that Sepp Blatter was being investigated by Swiss police for attempting to wallpaper over a FIFA bribery scandal.
In it, Lord Triesman, the former chairman of the English Football Association, described FIFA as an organization that “behaves like a mafia family”,
A follow-up Panorama documentary in 2010 accused Issa Hayatou, Vice President of FIFA, of taking bribes. He threatened to sue the BBC, but he didn’t.
Interpol’s willingness to bury its head in the sand may have been more about the fact that the €20 million FIFA paid to the international law enforcement agency constituted more than a quarter of its annual budget.
Finally, though, with FIFA exposed and indicted by the US, the only nation that dared to hold the organization to task, it was too much, or to embarrassing, for Interpol to stomach.
On a lighter note, the FIFA communications director Walter De Gregorio cracked a “joke” about his employers on Swiss TV this week, and believe us, it’s a zinger!
“The FIFA president, secretary general and communications director are all traveling in a car,” grinned De Gregorio.
“But who’s driving?” he quizzed.
“The police,” he zinged.
Shortly afterwards FIFA announced that De Gregorio had chosen to “relinquish his office.”