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JESSE FINK
THE COUNTER

Jesse Fink is one of Asia's most read football columnists and has been named by ChangeFIFA as an "expert on world football you must follow".

FIFA strikes another deal that stinks

Philippe Blatter, Sepp’s nephew

ow here's something. While FIFA swells its chest and promises the world it's changing its ways with a raft of new reforms carrying the imprimatur of Transparency International, it sells the Asian TV rights to a company run by Philippe Blatter, the nephew of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Yes, Infront Sports & Media, based in Zug, Switzerland, and with former ties to the infamous ISL, will handle the distribution of Asian broadcast rights for 26 territories for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, including the key markets of China, Indonesia and India. Philippe Blatter has been president and chief executive officer since 2006

Deals were also negotiated with Fox in the United States, SBS in Australia and Bell Media in Canada, among others.

Said FIFA's director of television Niclas Ericson: "Infront offered the best package for this important and very complex project both in financial as well as marketing aspects.

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FIFA sold the Asian TV rights to a company run by Philippe Blatter, the nephew of president Sepp Blatter, Infront Sports & Media, based in Zug, Switzerland, and with former ties to the infamous ISL

"We believe that the team will deliver the best possible results for FIFA and help us achieve our distribution and financial objectives in Asia."

Now this is not the first time that Infront has secured World Cup rights. As it proudly boasts on its website: "Infront successfully handled the global distribution of all broadcast rights for the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan and Germany. In 2010 it handled the host broadcast of the event in South Africa as well as the distribution of media rights in Asia and will continue to do so for the 2014 games [sic]."

But it stank then and it stinks even more now.

ven more so when you consider Match Hospitality AG, a Zurich-based company that Philippe Blatter's Infront has a share in, won the hospitality rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

"Hospitality" covers premium tickets, suites, catering, transportation and other bells and whistles for well-heeled corporate clients.

Philippe Blatter also worked for FIFA in the early 2000s when he was with management consulting firm McKinsey Sports Practice. The New York Times reported in 2006 that his responsibilities included "offering guidance ranging from administrative organisation to planning FIFA congresses".

Former FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen claimed in 2002 Sepp Blatter had directed $7 million worth of business to McKinsey since 2000 because of his nephew.

At the very least a curious pattern worth noting. At the most FIFA has been awfully good for Philippe Blatter and a full explanation is required.

So what made Infront the winning bid for Asia? Will we ever know? Will FIFA release the tender documents that substantiate Ericson's claim that it was the "best package"?

It's a perfect opportunity for FIFA to show just how transparent it is but don't hold your breath.

Because at even the new improved FIFA, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

 
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