Doing a quick search through my blog posts (you can do it yourself, over there on the right – that’s it, scroll down until you find the Search box, just above the golden piggy) I see that I have written on various occasions about money laundering and football, most recently concerning the imprisonment of Birmingham City FC’s former owner, Carson Yeung, for money laundering. But this weekend’s two headline stories about the so-called beautiful game just cannot be ignored.
First up: Edinho – the son of Brazilian footballing legend Pele, and himself a retired goalie and now football coach – has been sentenced to 33 years in prison for laundering drug money. He was first arrested in 2005 and has already served time for drug trafficking offences and for having links with a notorious drug dealer in the city of Santos, in São Paolo state. According to local prosecutors, Edinho acted as a “link between the armed and the financial parts” of the Santos drug cartel. Perhaps unwisely, Edinho has been allowed to remain at liberty pending the hearing of his appeal, although his passport has been confiscated. Thinking once more of the laundering implications of “family members and close associates”, it appear that Edinho used his father’s name to provide an air of legitimacy to businesses that he used for laundering. According to a local newspaper, the court heard a recording of a telephone conversation in which Edinho was talking with his criminal boss about opening a new business, and said that if the boss could provide the money, he would “provide the name” – believed to be an allusion to his famous father.
And secondly: the Sunday Times announced that it had obtained millions (millions!) of documents proving that Qatari football officials paid FIFA-eligible voters £3 million to secure their support for the Qatari bid to host the 2022 World Cup. Astonishing: there seem so many other good reasons for making that decision (what with Qatar being the hottest place on the planet in high summer, with extreme limits on alcohol consumption) that it never entered my mind that the bid might have been rigged. If corruption is proven, apparently they will run the vote again – with Qatar once more pitted against Australia, Japan, South Korea and the US.
Perhaps the Swiss are on to something: on 27 May 2014, a draft new rule was approved by the Legal Affairs Commission of the Swiss government which would specifically include the officials of “sporting federations” (i.e. international sports governing bodies based in Switzerland – including UEFA, FIFA and the International Olympic Committee) in an expended definition of PEPs. The rule will be debated in the autumn – and doubtless the outcome of the Qatar investigation will colour the result.