FIFA Chiefs Run Up $16M Tab On Lodging, Gifts During Two-Day Congress In Mauritius
World football chiefs ran up a £10.5M ($16M) bill "for a two-day meeting on the paradise island of Mauritius," according to David Pilditch of the London EXPRESS. The cost included more than £2M ($3M) "on luxury accommodation alone." A lavish opening ceremony came to £714,000 ($1.1M), while FIFA also spent £100,000 ($153,000) "on a sumptuous banquet." FIFA President Sepp Blatter "hailed the organisation’s 63rd annual congress a great success" after pushing through new measures to combat racism and match-fixing last weekend. However, behind the scenes the great FIFA "gravy train continues to hurtle out of control." One delegate said, "The whole circus was extraordinarily extravagant. Some important changes were made, but all the big decisions had already been taken and the delegates went through the motions of voting them through." One senior official at a foreign football association told how delegates "were each given a tablet computer" worth more than £300 ($460) as a gift. The source said that even the most junior delegates were also handed £300 a day spending money, "even though all their expenses were paid." In total, 1,200 people attended, including FIFA staff, observers, police and consultants (EXPRESS, 6/3).
SOUTH AFRICA BIDS: In Johannesburg, Mark Gleeson reported South Africa returned from the FIFA congress in Mauritius last weekend "having bid for five different future world championships." It is "a complete change in strategy" from the South African FA, whose only previous bid for a finals event was the 2010 World Cup, and had "missed many opportunities over the past two decades" (SOWETAN LIVE, 6/3).