Australia’s 2022 World Cup Bid and Fedor Radmann: Buying FIFA Connections

Australia, 2022 World CupOn Friday, we published a piece on the price of Australia’s 2022 World Cup bid: 11.37-million Australian taxpayers’ dollars being paid to two shady international lobbyists, Peter Hargitay and Fedor Radmann, to grease FIFA’s wheels. That piece focused on Hargitay, a globe-trotting consultant once arrested by Interpol for fraud, indicted by the US government for cocaine trafficking and heading up a consultancy network that boasts of doing “military and government level surveillance” for its clients. Hargitay was a special advisor to Sepp Blatter from 2002 to 2007, later joining and being jettisoned from England’s 2018/2022 World Cup bid team before being recruited by Football Federation Australia (FFA) last year for their own bid.

The Age newspaper reported on how lavishly these services are being rewarded by the FFA:

Mr Hargitay is being paid $1.35 million by the FFA and has a success fee of $2.54 million. Mr Radmann’s work for the Australian bid, which the FFA has attempted to keep confidential, will earn him up to $3.49 million via a German consulting firm. He is also entitled to a $3.99 million success fee. As part of a separate contract, the FFA is paying Mr Radmann’s business partner, Andreas Abold, an additional $3 million for World Cup “bid book production and bid advice”. It is unclear if Mr Abold will also receive some of Mr Radmann’s fees.

As the Observer put it today:

Radmann’s career highlights: long-time Sepp associate, former managing director of ISL – Fifa’s marketing agency which collapsed in 2001 after paying £60m in bribes (Radmann was not implicated), plus allegations in 2000, all denied, about a scheme to incentivise key Fifa officials to back Germany’s 2006 bid. Radmann later stepped down from the Germany 2006 organising committee after awarding a lucrative contract to his business partner.

The Age explained further Radmann’s past:

Hargitay is not the only international soccer lobbyist on the FFA payroll. He is joined by Fedor Radmann, a German businessman who can speak four languages, loves opera and mountaineering, and between 1979 and 1989 was the managing director of sports marketing company ISL.

He is also a man rich in apparent conflicts of interest between his business interests and the sporting associations he represents.

The European company has been embroiled in a long-running Swiss court case over alleged bribes to FIFA and other sporting officials. The case was settled earlier this month after key participants agreed to make big payments, with a Swiss prosecutor affirming earlier comments from a judge that ISL had made improper inducements.

Once again, we turn to investigative Andrew Jennings to fill in the blanks on Radmann: who is, as Jennings puts it, “the self-styled Mr Fixit of the world game”.

The question is, what exactly is it that Radmann does that’s so valuable?

Nobody’s quite sure what Fedor does so well – it’s nobody’s business – but whatever it is, he learned everything from the Master. Thirty years ago Horst Dassler made him head of the Adidas International Relations Team – aka the Department of Dirty Tricks & Votes Fixing – and Fedor’s career has gone downhill, subterranean, into places you wouldn’t want your children marooned in. He must have developed night vision eyeballs because whatever Fedor does, he does it in the dark.

Radmann’s links to the global game and the World Cup go back decades, and reach to the highest levels of the sport.

In 2000, Radmann was selected by Franz Beckenbauer to play a key role on the Organising Committee for the 2006 World Cup to be held in Germany, touted as a “marketing and PR expert”. He had previously been the co-ordinator of Germany’s successful World Cup bid, one tainted by allegations of bribes paid to FIFA officials to secure the vote, as the Age recently recapped:

In 2000, shortly before the FIFA officials voted, Radmann was tied to a scheme to channel large payments to “trust accounts” associated with at least three FIFA officials. These payments were ostensibly for the broadcast rights to football matches that on the open market would have struggled to find a buyer due to their limited audience appeal.

In an associated deal, $1 million in consulting fees were sent to a Lebanese racehorse owner called Elias Zaccour, who was very close to leading FIFA officials.

The German media suggested these payments were sweeteners to impress key FIFA officials. Radmann and the FIFA executives allegedly involved in this foul play dismissed the claims, despite the documentary evidence aired by the German press. Radmann has not responded to questions from The Age.

Radmann’s role on Germany’s 2006 World Cup organising committee soon landed him in further public disrepute. The book German Football: History, Culture, Society detailed Radmann’s controversial tenure heading its marketing efforts, particularly with regard to the unveiling of the 2006 World Cup logo in 2002:

When the Organising Committee (OC) started its work on 1 January 2001, Fedor H. Radmann, the OC Vice-President at the time, was responsible for the section ‘Art and Culture’. Radmann, a close confidant of Franz Beckenbauer, however, came under immense negative pressure when the official logo was presented. The ‘creative disaster’ (as the renowned design magazine Die Form put it) was mocked by German designers and the national and international press poked fun at it. . . Those responsible, namely Fedor Radmann and the OC, were promptly taken to task by politicians, as they had neglected to carry out a formal competition for the logo.

World Cup 2006 logo

The controversial 2006 World Cup logo

It was revealed that Radmann and the OC had selected a Munich-based design company, abold, owned by Andreas Abold, to work with London-based Whitestone International on the logo design. Abold just happened to be closely connected to Radmann, with business connections going back thirteen years. The German press increasingly poked into Radmann’s connections with many of the companies central to the World Cup in Germany: his previous work with adidas and to Leo Kirch’s failed company ISL in particular.

By mid-2003, the controversial wheeler-dealer Radmann had to resign from the OC, acting from that point on as an ‘OC special advisor’ only.

The FFA has since called on both Radmann and Abold to work on their bid, to return to The Age report again:

Australian press reports that mentioned the recruitment of Abold failed to mention Radmann.

As secret FFA documents from 2009 reveal, Abold was awarded two Australian government-funded contracts after being appointed sometime around early 2009. These contracts were handed out in confidential deals, done without any, or minimal, competitive tendering.

The first contract is worth $3.2 million and is labelled “Abold 1: Bid Book Production and Advice”. It requires Abold to help design and produce Australia’s Bid Book, a crucial marketing document that promotes the nation’s case to host the cup.

The second contract is more mysterious. It is worth $3.7 million and is labelled “Abold 2: International Relations/ Advocacy.” It may be more accurate, however, to label it as the Abold and Radmann contract. For, as other FFA documents make clear, the Abold 2 contract actually goes, at least partly, towards financing Radmann’s duties.

It also includes a very hefty bonus to “FDR” (Radmann), should Australia win hosting rights to the World Cup. So what exactly is Radmann doing for Australia?

The answer to that question is that despite his disastrous tenure with Germany’s World Cup organisation, Radmann’s perceived value lies in the connections he built there and earlier in his career, particularly to FIFA Executive Committee member Franz Beckenbauer.  Could this have influenced Beckenbauer’s December 2009 statement that Australia’s World Cup bid was “perfect” and notably had “the support of some very, very experienced people who know exactly how it works and what it takes to be successful”? Australia’s 2022 World Cup bid page boasted:

Franz Beckenbauer has hailed Australia’s 2018-2022 FIFA World Cup bid as ‘perfect’, adding that the country can’t ask for better promotion than hosting the world’s biggest tournament.

Beckenbauer is a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, the 24-man panel who’ll decide the hosts for those respective tournaments in a year’s time and was heavily influential in the lead up to and during the 2006 World Cup in his home country.

He said Germany is still basking in the afterglow of 2006, which helped change the world’s perception of Germany, and said Australia would reap similarly massive benefits.

“The FIFA World Cup is the most seen sporting event in the world,’’ Beckenbauer said.

“Billions and billions of people are watching all the games and it’s the best promotion that your country could have.

“In terms of the bid itself, I think it’s a great bid, it’s perfect and also you have the support of some very, very experienced people who know exactly how it works and what it takes to be successful.’’

Those people are the likes of Hargitay, Radmann and Abold’s expensively recruited company, abold, who played a key role in South Africa’s 2010 World Cup bid as well as in Germany 2006. The employment of these figures becomes a virtuous or vicious circle depending on your perspective: with each bid’s success, and the role played by the same small group of elite marketing consultants in them, those marketing consultants’ connections grow and their employment becomes ever more desirable, as Abold himself explained in an interview with the Host City website:

Our clients award us contracts mainly based on the strong bidding experience we have gained over a period of almost 20 years. Besides FIFA bids, we have also prepared bids for the Olympic Games, European Athletics Championships, 59th UITP World Congress, ICCA Congress and others. In every business it is important to know your target group well. We are proud to have established long-standing relationships with our clients, not only during the bidding phase for an event but also in the implementation phases. This, by nature, results in close ties.

These crucial “close ties” bring us back to the same issue we began this series with when we looked at Australia’s suspect gift-giving practices to FIFA’s Executive Committee members and FIFA’s absurd and inadequate Code of Ethics. The rotten core of this subterranean process for selecting World Cup hosts lies in Zürich, Switzerland, at FIFA’s headquarters. It lies in the set-up of FIFA’s all-powerful Executive Committee, 24 men (and they are all men) so long and so deeply embedded in the political subterfuge and grubby finances of the organisation of the world’s game that it’s doubtful they even realise how corrupt they are perceived to be by so many. Secretive decision-making practices, a lack of public transparency and tenure on the Committee that can stretch to decades (with unlimited reelection of four-year terms) makes a mockey of FIFA’s claim to be democratic.

Here is how long each Ex-Com member has been on that body (with most having earlier relationships to FIFA stretching back years as well):

President
Sepp Blatter: 12 years

Senior Vice-President
Julio Grondono: 22 years

Vice-Presidents
Jack Warner: 27 years
Issa Hayatou: 20 years
Mong-Joon Chung: 16 years
Ángel María Villar Llona: 12 years
Michel Platini: 8 years
Reyanld Tamarii: 6 years
Geoff Thompson: 3 years

Members
Michel D’Hooge: 22 years
Ricardo Teixeira: 16 years
Mohamed Bin Hammam: 14 years
Senes Erzik: 14 years
Chuck Blazer: 14 years
Worawi Makudi: 13 years
Nicolas Leoz: 12 years
Junji Ogora: 8 years
Amos Adamu: 4 years
Marios Lefkaritis: 3 years
Jaxques Anouma: 3 years
Franz Beckenbauer: 3 years
Rafael Salguero: 3 years
Jerome Valcke: 3 years
Hano Aby Rida: 1 year
Vitaly Mutko: 1 year

As we can see, the tenure of some of the senior executive committee members, the most influential men in world soccer, is extremely long, with Jack Warner spending 27 years there cultivating and being cultivated surrounding decisions that impact how billions of dollars are spent year in, year out. And hence, the likes of Radmann and Hargitay, with their connections to senior members stretching back years, are recruited at high cost for Australia’s World Cup bid team. The Sidney Morning Herald explained how Jack Warner had been wooed:

As one of 24 on FIFA’s executive committee (Exco), Warner in December will help decide which nations will host the 2018 and 2022 Cups. As a contender for 2022, Australia is counting on Warner’s support in the later rounds of the FIFA ballot.

Assisting Australia to court Warner is Football Federation Australia’s highly paid lobbyist, Peter Hargitay, who helped arrange the Warner-Rudd meeting.

It is understood that Hargitay was also involved in arranging, at Warner’s request, the sponsorship by the FFA of a trip for the Trinidad and Tobago under-20 men’s football team to a training camp in Cyprus last year.

FIFA revealed it is investigating the trip.

A statement said: “FIFA can confirm that it is looking into this matter. For the time being, FIFA cannot disclose any other details or make any further comment.”

The trip would have cost the FFA – presumably using Australian taxpayer money – tens of thousands of dollars. The Warner family’s travel company, Simpaul, was involved in arranging part of that trip, however, the FFA said yesterday all its dealings with the Trinidad and Tobago soccer team were through a separate and unrelated travel company.

It is also believed Hargitay was involved in, or at least knew of, a trip to Australia offered by the FFA to Warner supporter and a South American FIFA Exco member, Rafael Salguero, and his wife in December, as well as other gifts given to Exco members by Australia.

The lid lifted on Australia’s World Cup bid has demonstrated to the world once again how shady this process is, and just how badly we need reform at the highest levels of FIFA to stop the game falling even more deeply into the pockets of the likes of Hargitay, Radmann and Warner.

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