KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Markus Kattner who, along with Sepp Blatter and Jerome Valcke, plundered FIFA finances for $80m, has been banned from football for 10 years by the world football federation’s ethics commission.
The 49-year-old German joined FIFA in 2003 from business consultancy corporation McKinsey in a restructuring after the financial crisis promoted by the collapse of commercial agent ISL and broadcast partner Kirch.
He held successive key roles as chief financial officer, deputy and then acting secretary general until his abrupt sacking by new-elected president Gianni Infantino in May 2016.
Kattner, a former basketball player, was adjudged by the ethics panel to have breached regulations concerning conflict of interest and abuse of position. He was also fined one million Swiss francs.
The 49-year-old, who has denied wrongdoing, can challenge the punishments at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
This was an option which proved of no use to former president Blatter and ex-secretary general Valcke when they appealed their own bans of six and 12 years respectively for misconduct in office.
Kattner, who is suing FIFA for wrongful dismissal, maintained a far lower profile than Blatter and Valcke. He would pop up at FIFA Congress to deliver a financial report and then vanish from public sight for another year.
After Kattner’s sacking in May 2016, however, an entirely new light was shone on his work by a report from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, the United States law firm commissioned to investigate the mess left by years of scandal.
Quinn Emanuel discovered that Blatter, Valcke and Kattner had negotiated among themselves ever-more-lucrative contracts and World Cup-related bonuses. In sum, that they ripped off FIFA to the tune of $80m between them over the four years between 2011 and 2015.
Kattner and Valcke, as senior staff members, also secured the protection of long-term severance deals and blanket indemnities against any legal action arising from their FIFA work, whether they were dismissed for ‘just cause’ or not.
The individual figures broke down to approximately $34m for Blatter, $33m for Valcke and $13m for Kattner. This was duly reported to the Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber who ordered a raid on FIFA’s Zurich headquarters including, specifically, Kattner’s office.
Kattner’s last public appearance had been in conducting FIFA Congress in Mexico City on May 13, 2016.
Tale of the tape
Days later a storm arose around Infantino’s handling of the FIFA Council meeting on the eve of congress. A recording of the meeting had found its way to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. This revealed how Infantino had forced through the removal of audit and compliance chairman Domenico Scala.
Infantino and FIFA were thus forced on the defensive by media criticism that he had undermined the stuttering reform process by scrapping all the judicial bodies’ independence. The source of the leak has never been identified.
Ten days later Kattner was sacked for “breaches of his fiduciary responsibilities in connection with his employment contract.” Another 10 days and Quinn Emanuel revealed its own conclusions.
Now the final curtain appears to have fallen on the man from the Wagnerian opera capital of Bayreuth.
The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has found Markus Kattner, former FIFA Deputy Secretary General and Acting Secretary General, guilty of conflicts of interest and having abused his position, in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
The investigation into Mr Kattner covered various charges concerning bonus payments in relation to FIFA competitions that were paid to top FIFA management officials (including Mr Kattner), various amendments to and extensions of employment contracts, reimbursement of private legal costs, and Mr Kattner’s duties as an official.
In its decision, the adjudicatory chamber ruled that Mr Kattner had breached art. 19 (Conflicts of interest) and art. 25 (Abuse of position) of the FIFA Code of Ethics (2019 edition) and sanctioned him with a ban from all football-related activity (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level for a period of ten years. In addition, a fine in the amount of CHF 1,000,000 has been imposed on Mr Kattner.
The motivated decision was notified to Mr Kattner today, the date on which the ban comes into force, and has been published on legal.fifa.com.