FIFA grounds jet-set culture reducing spending by 88%, finds report

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January 29 – A confidential report commissioned by FIFA president Gianni Infantino into the organisation’s financial workings before he took over from Sepp Blatter has uncovered an eye-watering spending spree by the old guard, most of whom have now been forced out including Blatter and his one-time right-hand man, Jerome Valcke.

The 98-page ‘Progress at FIFA – Status Report’, which covers the period from 2006 to 2015 and was compiled by Swiss audit firm BDO, has fallen into the hands of AFP and specifically highlights the fact that there was no “permit process for the use of private jets”.

According to AFP, BDO said there was a lack of “a clear set of rules and regulations concerning expense reimbursement” resulting in payments “that would not be permitted under today’s guidelines.” It adds that “two former members of the executive committee demanded reimbursement of $780,000 and $390,000, respectively, in just one year.”

Over a five-year period, “a former high-ranking FIFA official was reimbursed for travel expenses in the total amount of over $300,000,” it adds. The agency quotes a source saying that official was controversial former Thai football supremo Worawi Makudi.

Among those singled out in the report, says AFP, is the late Chuck Blazer, the larger than life character who for 16 years strode the corridors of power as one of the most influential figures before his admissions of guilt set off the corruption scandal that heaped disgrace on FIFA. At one point, says the report, Blazer was reimbursed for two return flights while he had only made one.

The report says in 2016, the first year of Infantino’s reign, “spending on private jet flights dropped by 88 percent” compared to 2010-14, and welcomes a series of reform measures taken since Infantino took power. But it conveniently doesn’t seem to mention the purge by Infantino of FIFA’s senior governance officials and their replacement with those of far less relevant skills.

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