Former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter and two other leading officials unilaterally awarded themselves undisclosed bonuses and contracts totalling nearly $82m over their last five years in office, the world football’s governing body has said.
An internal investigation found that Blatter, along with Jerome Valcke, his number two as secretary-general, and finance director Markus Kattner were involved in a “coordinated” attempt to enrich themselves through “massive payouts”.
“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 totalling more than 79m Swiss francs [$82m] – in just the last five years,” Bill Burck, a partner with the Quinn Emanuel audit firm, said on Friday.
Over the past year, Blatter, Valcke and Kattner have been fired, or booted out of office and are now facing growing scrutiny from Swiss and US prosecutors.
Al Jazeera’s Joanna Gasiorowska said the revelation “goes to show that this corruption investigation is going right to the top, and there’s plenty more to come”.
The former FIFA officials also reportedly plotted to ensure a comfortable future in case they lost their jobs.
“There are multiple amendments to contracts often approved in close sequence,” the FIFA investigation said.
“Additionally, these various contracts were often entered into by Messers Blatter, Valcke and Kattner on the very same day. And more importantly, these dates were very ominous.”
According to the report, on April 30, 2011, just before a FIFA presidential election when it was not certain Blatter would be re-elected to a new four-year term, Valcke and Kattner were given 8.5-year contract extensions until 2019 “with big increases in their base salaries and bonuses”.
They also allegedly received “generous severance terms that guaranteed them full payment – up $17.9m and $10.03m respectively – in case their employment with FIFA” was terminated, the likely consequence should Blatter lost his position.
‘Massive and undue payouts’
FIFA even created a compensation subcommittee in 2013, but they failed to rein in the illicit awarding of “massive” and “undue” payouts.
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.”
FIFA earns more than $5bn in revenues in the four years between each World Cup. The leading trio had their share, according to their contracts.
On December 1, 2010, Blatter, Valcke and Kattner also received $23.5m in “special bonuses” after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the report said.
The payments were awarded “retroactively” and “apparently without an underlying contract provision stipulating such bonuses”.
Millions of dollars in bonuses were also awarded for the 2014 World Cup, with more to come for the 2018 World Cup.
Swiss authorities searched Kattner’s former FIFA office on Thursday.
“Documents and electronic data were seized and will now be examined to determine their relevance to the ongoing proceedings,” according to Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General.
FIFA, which is now led by Gianni Infantino, said that they will also inform US authorities, who have already charged about 40 individuals and two companies over football corruption as part of an ongoing investigation.