4 Jun 2016

Fifa officials 'paid themselves $80m'

8:18 am on 4 June 2016

Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter and two other leading officials awarded themselves pay rises and bonuses worth $US80m over five years, lawyers for football's governing body say.

Former Fifa officials (from left) Jerome Valcke,Sepp Blatter and Markus Kattner.

Former Fifa officials (from left) Jerome Valcke,Sepp Blatter and Markus Kattner. Photo: AFP

Fifa has revealed the contracts of the former president, fired ex-secretary general Jerome Valcke and sacked former finance director Markus Kattner after a Swiss police raid this week.

The governing body's lawyers said there was evidence the trio made "a coordinated effort" to "enrich themselves" between 2011 and 2015.

The sums included bonuses for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the lawyers said.

Documents and electronic data were seized during Thursday's operation, which relates to investigations into Mr Blatter and Mr Valcke. In February they were banned for six and 12 years respectively by the governing body's ethics committee after suspicions of criminal mismanagement of Fifa money. Both deny wrongdoing.

Fifa said it had shared the information about salaries with the Swiss Attorney General's office and the US Department of Justice and would continue to investigate.

Mr Blatter, 80, did not wish to comment on the allegations, his spokesman said.

His US lawyer, Richard Cullen, said in a statement: "We look forward to showing Fifa that Mr Blatter's compensation payments were proper, fair and in line with the heads of major professional sports leagues around the world."

A person close to Mr Kattner said "none of the information that was published is unknown to the compensation committee". Payments were in line with Fifa's compensation policy and that they had been seen by KPMG which audit Fifa's finances, he said. Mr Valcke could not immediately be reached for comment.

'Coordinated effort to enrich'

Fifa said the investigation, conducted by its lawyers Quinn Emanuel, had revealed "evidence of breaches of fiduciary duty". The findings were preliminary and warranted further investigation.

"The evidence appears to reveal a coordinated effort by three former top officials of Fifa to enrich themselves through annual salary increases, World Cup bonuses and other incentives," said Bill Burck, a partner with Quinn Emanuel.

The sums received by the trio included 23 million Swiss francs in "special bonuses" for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, while Mr Blatter and Mr Valcke got a total of 14 million francs in bonuses for the 2014 World Cup Brazil and 15.5 million francs for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the firm said.

Fifa said that before 2013 the people who signed the contracts were "in principle" also the ones who approved them.

"They had the authority they needed, and they simply told payroll and HR (human resources), the department generally in charge for employment contracts at Fifa and which reported to Mr Kattner, how much should be paid out and to whom," said the report.

There were also questions over the compensation sub-committee which oversaw officials' compensation from 2013 onwards, the report said.

Fifa is attempting to recover from the worst graft scandal in its history in which 42 people, including former Fifa executive committee members, and entities have been indicted in the United States.

Gianni Infantino was elected as president in February and promised to lead Fifa into calmer waters.

- BBC / Reuters

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