KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENT: Andrew Jennings, the trail-blazing investigative sports journalist, has died aged 78.
Jennings, whose single-minded focus on corruption within FIFA earned him a long-time press conference ban, did more than anyone else in the media – or beyond the media for that matter – to undermine Joao Havelange, Ricardo Teixeira, Jack Warner, Chuck Blazer and their entire corrupt edifice.
Friend and colleague Bonita Mersiades wrote on her blog*: “His work on the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, in particular, was ground breaking, courageous, untiring and accurate. Critics energised him. Setbacks made him more determined.”
Jens Sejer Andersen, of Play The Game, wrote: “If you had to put only one name to the revolution of the international sports debate over the past 30 years, if you could choose only one person to embody the growing public awareness about the economic and political abuse of sport, of athletes and of fans, that name and that person would be Andrew Jennings.”
Jennings worked for The Sunday Times’ Insight team in the late 1960s before becoming an investigative reporter with the BBC which is quit in anger at the corporation’s refusal to broadcast a documentary concerning corruption within Scotland Yard.
Later work with Granada ranged across British involvement in the Iran-Contra affair and mafia-related activity in Chechnya.
A first notable book concerning sports governance was the widely-hailed The Lords of the Rings: Power, Money and Drugs in the Modern Olympics (1992).
Jennings’s tenacity came to wider attention with his work in 2006 for BBC’s Panorama programme on the corrupt links between FIFA bosses and its collapsing marketing partner ISL Marketing.
Further documentaries featured his further pursuits of the powerbroking grandees controlling World Cup bidding and broadcasting contracts.
Later he delved into money-grabbing corruption within the Central and North American Confederation (CONCACAF) and, in particular, the conspiratorial partnership between its president Jack Warner and general secretary Chuck Blazer.
Both were later banned from football for life and targeted by the United States authorities’ FIFAGate investigation.