LONDON, November 5, 2018 – The latest downpour from Football Leaks showering international football promises to run and run.
World federation FIFA knew it was coming. A statement said: “Four weeks ago, a group of journalists sent several hundred questions to FIFA, based on private and internal e-mails and other information which had been accessed (illegally) by third parties.”
The statement was issued in response to the initial publication of articles in 15 European news organisations. The outlets, according to German news magazine Der Spiegel, “will publish a series of disclosures about the ‘dirty deals’ of the football world. Dozens of articles will dive deep into the business of European football – a billion-euro industry.”
German champions Bayern Munich were the initial, domestic target of Der Spiegel which used the leaked or hacked material to claim that the club’s senior directors “spent months forging its plan for a Super League with the most powerful and the richest football clubs in Europe.”
The clubs all prepared to break away from UEFA in 2021 were supposedly:
Founder members: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Chelsea, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Liverpool and Milan plus invitees Atletico Madrid , Marseille, Internazionale, Roma and Borussia Dortmund.
European federation UEFA, which jealously guards its Champions League, did not even deign to comment beyond referring questions to the oft-repeated comments of president Aleksander Ceferin.
Last month he told a conference in Trento: “A European Super League would damage football worldwide. For me it’s out of the question and as long as I’m here I’ll fight in every way to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Simultaneously Swiss daily Tages Anzeiger focused on FIFA president Gianni Infantino, stating: “Infantino vowed to clean up the world’s most hated sports organization. Confidential documents reveal how hollow his promises were.”
The Tages Anzeiger article questioned Infantino’s role in:
1, the award to the United States, Canada and Mexico of the 2026 World Cup finals;
2, the redrafting of the FIFA ethics regulations;
3, encouraging greater speed in the distribution of development funds at the cost of auditing precision;
4, supporting the contentious appointment of Colombian Maria Claudia Rojas as chief ethics investigator;
5, “teaming up with an investor that had not followed normal public tender procedures” over the controversial proposal to revamp the Club World Cup; and
5, how the massive Middle Eastern investments in Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City compromised UEFA’s financial fair play rules when he was general secretary of the European governing body.
For FIFA and Infantino, the leaked material contained nothing “which would even remotely amount to a violation of any law, statute or regulation.”
The clear suggestion in FIFA’s reactive comment was that the leaks owed much to disaffected individuals from the old regime of banned and disgraced former president Sepp Blatter.
Infantino said: “It is always a challenge to change things, to move forward, and to bring people together to do things better. As we are resolutely implementing the reforms at FIFA, it was always clear to me that I would face strong opposition, especially from those who cannot anymore shamelessly profit from the system they were part of.
“This is why I was elected and for me there will be one focus only: to improve and develop football, worldwide. Today I am more committed and decided than ever to continue fulfilling this task.”
UEFA did address the issue of PSG, Manchester City and financial fair play negotiations but only to close down discussion by saying: “We cannot comment on specific cases due to confidentiality obligations which UEFA must respect.”