Television

BBC's 'Panorama' to expose unsavoury deals at Fifa

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MUMBAI: A British football chief has revealed how a Fifa VP asked him to pay Football Association money into his own personal bank account.

The former chairman of the Scottish FA, John McBeth, has told UK pubcaster the BBC's show Panorama that a top Fifa executive Jack Warner asked him to make the match fee cheque payable to him personally, following an international match in Edinburgh.

It is one of a series of suspect dealings involving Fifa. Panorama asks why Fifa's ethics committee – run by Lord Sebastian Coe – is not taking action.

Other questions about foul play directed at world football's governing body include:

Why a FIFA official, branded a liar by an American judge, is now Fifa General Secretary; why no-one has been prosecuted after falsifying documents in the same case – a crime punishable by up to five years in prison; and why a Fifa executive committee member was allowed to pay his national team players only £500 each for their participation in the World Cup, despite securing lucrative sponsorship deals – and then blacklisted them from the national team when they complained.

Panorama asked Lord Coe why the ethics committee was not looking into these issues. He declined to answer or give any details of his job, referring all queries to Fifa, the body he is supposed to be monitoring.

McBeth first expressed concerns about corruption in Fifa after being chosen to fill Britain's post on the Fifa executive committee in May this year. He pointed the finger at football officials in Africa and the Caribbean – but was dropped just days before starting his new job amid accusations of bigotry and racism from Vice-President Warner.

However, he is adamant that this was a merely a smokescreen and that he was sailing far too close to the truth for some Fifa members. McBeth says, "There are one or two people on that executive committee that I wouldn't trust as far as I could throw. I was talking about the football people that I've met and dealt with in Africa and the Caribbean. It was football people I was talking about. I wasn't talking about the nation. I'm not a racist bigot and I think it probably says more about Jack and him trying to deflect away the criticism that I was making of corruption."

Speaking for the first time on the subject, McBeth has revealed how Warner, who represents Fifa in North and Central America and the Caribbean, asked him to pay a match fee directly into his personal account.

Previously, Warner was found guilty by Fifa's ethics committee of touting thousands of World Cup tickets through his family travel company in Trinidad. Yet he escaped with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. He was also accused of "ripping off" Trinidad and Tobago's players following last year's World Cup.

The Panorama investigation has also found that some of Fifa's actions in relation to a sponsorship deal amounted to criminal activity, punishable by up to five years in prison in Fifa's home nation, Switzerland.

FIFA attempted to drop its sponsor MasterCard and replace it with Visa, contrary to a long-standing agreement, and was taken to court in New York by MasterCard, where the judge condemned its actions.The man who led FIFA's marketing team, Jerome Valcke, admitted lying to both MasterCard and Visa.

The BBC adds that despite the serious nature of the case, Lord Coe's ethics committee has took no action. And when Panorama asked Lord Coe why he was not looking into this case he declined to talk. Warner and Valcke also declined to comment.

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