KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- The scandal surrounding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has been resurrected by a Russian leak of what is claimed to be a blueprint of how to bribe senior directors of FIFA.
The leak, developed by news magazine Der Spiegel, has by far the greatest resonance in Germany because of the allegations concerning Franz Beckenbauer.
The 74-year-old’s reputation has already been trashed by controversy and criminal investigations into the awarding to Germany of the 2006 World Cup for which he was bidding and then organising president.
Russian investigative news outlet The Insider is the source for the revival of the voting scandal in December 2010 which reverberated originally over the award of the 2022 finals to Qatar rather than the 2018 tournament to Russia.
The cornerstones of the new leak are excerpts of hacked correspondence of Sergey Kapkov.
He was then a senior football official. Later he became Moscow’s Minister of Culture from 2011 until 2015 when his modernising of the capital’s leisure and entertainment zones earned him both a nickname as “the hipster minister” and some influential enemies.
Kapkov entered football administration in 2003 in launching a National Football Fund, which drew powerful support from Roman Abramovich. The men had worked together previously when Kapkov was the Chelsea-owning oligarch’s political campaign manager.
Subsequently Kapkov was handed a seat in the Duma by Vladimir Putin and duly became its head of information, technology and communication. Simultaneously he was appointed a vice-president of the Russian Football Union.
The correspondence published by The Insider was reportedly dated from 2010 and notes Kapkov as having been copied in along with other senior politicians involved in the bidding campaign.
One file include a rundown on each member of the FIFA executive committee and how best they might be approached and influenced.
Those considered targets for direct bribery along with Beckenbauer were Argentinian FIFA vice-president Julio Grondona, Cypriot Marios Lefkaritis, Thailand’s Worawi Makudi, Oceania president Reynald Temari and Africa’s Issa Hayatou (then head of the continental confederation CAF) plus Nigerian Amos Adamu.
Similarly identified were Trinidadian Jack Warner and American Chuck Blazer, then the president general secretary of central/north American body CONCACAF. Later Blazer was the key source ‘turned’ by the US authorities in the FIFGate scandal. He died in 2017 while Warner is contesting a US extradition application.
The strategy also included trying to reach then FIFA president Sepp Blatter through his nephew Philip who headed a company which controlled World Cup TV rights.
There is no evidence in the hacked documents that direct approaches were ever made to the men named let alone paid off.
The price for Beckenbauer, ascribed to his long-time confidant Fedor Radmann, was €3m up front and a further €1.5m if Russia won the bid (against opposition from England, Belgium/Holland and Portugal/Spain). Radmann, coincidentally, was simultaneously a senior adviser to the vain Australian bid for 2022.
Beckenbauer and Radmann have always denied any wrongdoing in connection with the 2018/2022 World Cup awards. Der Kaiser quit the FIFA exco in 2011 and took up a promotional role with an affiliate of the Russian energy giant Gazprom a year later.
Currently the former World Cup-winning captain and manager is in poor health. This has prevented German and Swiss authorities from interviewing him with a view to possible criminal and civil charges over the 2006 World Cup financial scandal.
Alexei Sorokin, the Russian bid ceo who is now a member of the governing councils of FIFA and European federation UEFA, has described the leak reports as “nonsense.”
FIFA is not expected to launch a new inquiry into the 2018/2022 vote. An investigation undertaken by then ethics co-chairman Michael Garcia between 2012 and 2014 came up with nothing substantial. Garcia reported that his investigation into Russian activities had been stymied by a response that the bid committee computers had been only on loan and had since been wiped.
None of the exco members in 2010 now holds official positions of any significance in the world game.
Doubts over the veracity of Russian sources across a wide range of far more important issues than sport – as well as the obstructive tactics over the doping scandal – render any and all claims open to scepticism.