Blatter accused of nepotism

WORLD football chief Sepp Blatter is under pressure after it emerged he oversaw the award of a €350 million World Cup contract to a company part-owned by the firm his nephew runs.

Blatter, president of football’s governing body FIFA, heads the 24-man executive committee which awarded South Africa 2010’s 380,000-ticket hospitality contract exclusively to MATCH Hospitality in October 2007.

The firm, based in FIFA’s home city Zurich, was picked by the executive committee after a public tender.

It has emerged MATCH is part-owned by Swiss sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media, whose president and CEO is Philippe Blatter, nephew of FIFA president Sepp.

FIFA has confirmed president Blatter was partially involved in the decision to appoint MATCH, prompting criticism from politicians.

Infront, run by Ironman triathlon fanatic Phillipe, 45, owns “under 10 per cent” of MATCH and is now profiting from a staggeringly lucrative hospitality programme which FIFA say is the biggest in history.

On the basis that all 380,000 tickets are sold, MATCH would bank €350 million.

Rich fans and businesses are paying an average of €1000 per World Cup hospitality ticket – increasing up to nearly €4,000 for the final – for seats worth a face value average of €140 plus food, drinks, entertainment and parking.

MATCH had already earned €80 million in hospitality sales by November 2008 – almost covering the €90 million it paid FIFA for hospitality rights to the World Cup plus last year’s Confederations Cup and next year’s Women’s World Cup.

This is not the first time Sepp and Philippe Blatter’s working relationship has caused suggestions of nepotism.

Former FIFA secretary general Michel Zen-Ruffinen was ousted in 2002 after claiming Blatter steered €5.2m of work to consultants McKinsey & Co when his nephew was a partner there in his previous job. Blatter said all consulting work was bid for competitively, while McKinsey said Philippe was only peripherally involved in FIFA work. Prosecutors cleared Blatter of any criminal conduct after an investigation.

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