The day of reckoning for the five FIFA presidential aspirants is staring at their faces. February 26 is a week away and the nerves are flying high. AFC president and frontrunner Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, Prince Ali of Jordan, Frenchman Jerome Champagne, South African businessman Tony Sexwale, and Swiss football administrator of Italian origin Gianni Infantino, are hustling towards their goal, all promising to clean up beleaguered FIFA, if elected. It’s a natural objective, considering how badly the governing body is trapped in charges of corruption. The 209 world football associations will decide their fate. Only they have the mandate, but if recent leaks are to be believed, there are outsiders who are conspiring to influence the election.
Global Leaks recently released International Trade Union Confederation’s (ITUC) exposed email trails that contained questionable correspondence to ensure their choice of candidate wins. The emails involved influential figures like ITUC president Sharan Burrow, her communication spin doctor Gemma Swart, ITUC director communication Tim Noonan, and SKIN’s chairman, Jamie Fuller, and former Australian FA member and FIFA whistleblower, Bonita Mersiades.
From misusing funds aimed at damaging Sheikh Salman’s reputation, to showing unabashed support for Prince Ali, Ms Burrow and her Australian colleagues have been found straying from their terms of office. Instead of spending money and time on the millions of struggling workforce around the world, ITUC has conveniently shifted the goal post. It is now playing the role of a corporate lobbyist body.
Swiss magazine Weltwoche picked up the controversial emails and released an article on February 4, which carried Ms Burrow’s vague and weak reaction to the exposure.
With the FIFA elections and the fate of ITUC’s candidate near, Sharan Burrow appears to have taken matters in her own hand, and in her own backyard, in an attempt to salvage lost reputation.
‘The Australian’ published an article on February 14 where Ms Burrow asserted unconvincingly how one particular email in the series is forged. The email was written by Ms Swart and addressed to members of the gang on September 9. It read: “Prince Ali (bin al-Hussein of Jordan) just announced that he may run again (for the presidency). We do benefit if he wins and Sheik Salman loses. We can divert some money for a dis¬information campaign against Salman.”
Jacquelin Magnay of the Australian reports that since Sheikh Salman announced his candidacy only on October 25, how could they have discussed his bid in September? It did not take an official announcement for it to be known that the Sheikh would be in the fray. That is why the argument holds little credibility.
Sharan Burrow’s almost brazen support for Prince Ali in an article on their website on May 22 (http://www.ituc-csi.org/fifa-election-ituc-with-arab?lang=en), when she lobbied FIFA delegates to vote for the Jordanian Prince simply because he ‘promised’ that he would work for human rights, was an extension of her war against Sepp Blatter.
The Prince conceded defeat after losing 133–73 in the first round and withdrew from the race on May 28. However, his hopes of leading FIFA were revived after Blatter resigned on June 1 amid corruption charges. Ms Burrow’s hopes were recharged, too. Backed mainly by European nations and the ITUC general secretary, who would go on to make noise against his would-be opponent, Sheikh Salman, Prince Ali at first remained hesitant about his prospects for running again, but came around and declared his candidacy on September 8.
The next day the ‘email’ was sent. It fits the bill.
Interestingly, Reuters had reported in August itself that Prince Ali could be running again, so it’s not necessarily impossible to know who is likely to stand for FIFA presidency even before official declarations come. Same with Sheikh Salman.
Michel Platini, Prince Ali’s the then opponent, had already begun to face charges of complicity in financial dealing with Blatter and was widely expected to pull out of the race. Sheikh Salman, who hadn’t announced his candidacy, was backing the Frenchman then. (http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-soccer-fifa-salman-platini-idUKKCN0QJ1S520150814, dated August 14). But everybody could read the writings on the wall for the UEFA boss and there were voices in the corridors of world football that had begun talking of the possibility that the Bahraini would run, too.
It’s quite possible and logical that the allegedly fabricated email was written in anticipation. It’s also quite probable that the email’s reference to the Bahraini was actually pointing towards the Sheikh’s and Platini’s combined camp.
What’s also interesting to note is the fact that Sheikh Salman formally submitted his papers to FIFA on October 25 as per the Reuters article –http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-soccer-fifa-salman-idUKKCN0SK03A20151026, dated Oct 26. How come ITUC had the information beforehand having released the article two days prior? (http://www.ituc-csi.org/fifa-deep-concern-over-possible, dated Oct 23).
What happened after the September 9 email also clearly indicates how Sharan Burrow and ITUC executed disinformation campaign against Sheikh Salman. The following links shows their aggression against the AFC president.