Daily Mail – SEPP BLATTER flies into another bribery scandal when he arrives in the Cameroon capital of Yaounde today for the 50th birthday celebrations of Roger Milla.
The FIFA president has been invited along with Pele, Sir Bobby Charlton, Chris Waddle and Marcel Desailly for the celebration of Africa’s greatest footballer.
But already Blatter’s role in the party is under great scrutiny – along with that of his personal adviser, Jerome Champagne – with suggestions that FIFA has funded the event in return for Milla’s support.
Milla, who in 1994 became the oldest player to appear in a World Cup Finals at 42, is a key figure in the election for president to be held in Seoul on May 29.
Until this year he was a Blatter supporter but at the end of March he explained his dilemma to the BBC after Issa Hayatou, a fellow Cameroonian, decided to oppose the president.
Milla said: ‘It is hard for us who are already friends of Blatter. It is not going to be easy to leave Blatter, even if it is to support an African.
‘I look at Hayatou and he’s a kind and correct man who has done a lot for Africa.’ A week later, Milla contacted FIFA to ask for funding for the weeklong bash to mark his birthday in Douala and Yaounde.
Sportsmail believes the request was initially rejected. But as the crisis grew around Blatter, there was a change of heart.
Champagne agreed that FIFA would pay for the event and within hours Milla was declaring his support for Blatter’s re-election campaign.
He joined several African players who have backed Blatter, but many have already been found to have been paid as ‘ambassadors’ for the GOAL project, which was supposed to be a development tool but has been turned into an election vehicle by the president.
‘If this is true,’ said Hayatou yesterday, ‘then it is another issue that the president must explain.’ In a desperate attempt to cover up the ever growing evidence of corruption, Blatter’s men orchestrated the sidelining of FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen last week.
In what a senior executive committee member described as an ‘unconstitutional act bordering on the illegal’, the FIFA emergency committee voted in favour of stripping Zen-Ruffinen’s powers.
The success of the tactic further ridicules Blatter’s claims of transparency and means that finance director Urs Linzi, Julio Grondona (chairman of the FIFA finance committee) and Blatter now control the financial affairs of the organisation which are now under question.
UEFA president Lennart Johansson expressed his disgust at the tactic last week and urged Blatter to resign.
He said: ‘I keep asking myself: What does the president have to hide?
‘After all the accusations, a postponement of the election would be best.’
Johansson said he would consider his own future if Blatter won the vote and remained as soccer’s most powerful official.
‘I will think about whether I should step down as vicepresident of FIFA,’ said Johansson.’But I will not threaten anybody or force anybody to do the same.’.
Source: DAILY MAIL 13/05/2002