We have finally managed to get an insider’s view of the happenings inside FIFA since the ascension to power of Gianni Infantino in 2016 and his rather unprofessional stewardship of such a large and complex organization.
One of his most bizarre single first acts as FIFA President was the appointment of Fatma Samoura as Secretary General, a virtual unknown and curiously, one from outside the fabric of World football.
But where did Infantino and Fatma meet, and why would the “bald one” go out on a limb for this stranger and install her to the top technocrats’ position in the organization?
Infantino and Fatma first met on Friday 13 November 2015 at the Stade Municipal de Mahamasina in Antananarivo during the FIFA World Cup qualifier between Madagascar and Senegal.
Her presence there was two-fold, one as long-time friend and business partner to Madagascar FA President Ahmad Ahmad (now CAF President) and secondly as high-level Senegalese native, having come to watch her home team play.
At the time, Fatma was the top-ranking UNDP representative in Madagascar, where she had met Ahmad (who was also Fisheries Minister in the Malagasy Government).
In November 2015, Infantino was desperately looking for votes in his bid to succeed the disgraced Sepp Blatter as FIFA President.
By ruthlessly using his long-time friendship with Valais Prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold, he had engineered the opening of indictments on his former boss at UEFA Michel Platini, while using his own influence in the FIFA Reforms committee to press for Platini’s 8-year ban from football activity, thereby clearing the path for him to contest the FIFA Presidency.
In the years preceding the FIFA mid-term elections of 2016 (to replace Blatter) Infantino had been delegated by Platini as the UEFA point-man for the distribution of invitations, accommodation, local transport and flights to all the UEFA Champions League Finals.
So exclusive and limited were these invitations that Platini would leverage them politically for non-European Football Associations, which (over time) made him the President designate of FIFA.
Unfortunately he underestimated the wile and scheming of his subordinate Gianni Infantino.
It is through this annual distribution of UEFA CL invitations that Infantino became acquainted with Ahmad, to whom he would approach some years later in 2015, seeking a means to ascend the throne of FIFA.
At the time, Infantino was aware that he could not count on the support of CAF President Issa Hayatou, who had already made his bed with Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and who had also thrown his hat in the ring seeking the FIFA Presidency.
It is with this dilemma that Infantino met Ahmad in Madagascar on that fateful November 2015 evening, in discussions that ultimately bound the trio of Infantino-Ahmad-Fatma and led to a chain of events that would reverberate in global football to date.
In exchange for disruption of the African vote that would hand him FIFA victory, Ahmad sought from Infantino guarantees that he would (upon ascending to FIFA throne) immediately appoint Fatma (who was present at this meeting) as FIFA SG.
The 2nd part of the agreement between this trio was that Infantino would throw his considerable weight as FIFA President behind Ahmad as he would also throw his hat in the ring against Hayatou in the CAF elections slated for March 2017.
Pessimists would postulate that luck always seems to ride in the same vehicle as the most truly despicable and evil people, because just as this trio had planned eventually came to pass.
Ahmad helped Infantino to win the FIFA Presidency, then Infantino appointed Fatma to become the FIFA SG, before ultimately throwing his weight behind Ahmad for the CAF Presidency in 2017.
What has happened afterwards has been nothing short of the work of the devil in global football.
However, it is how Infantino went about circumventing FIFA provisions in the hiring of Fatma that illustrates his open disdain for procedure and good governance.
In May 2013 the FIFA congress had elected the Swiss-Italian Domenico Scala as chairman of the Audit & Compliance Committee of FIFA, charged with overseeing FIFA’s business practices. On June 2, 2015, he assumed the oversight/leadership of a reform program within FIFA.
On September 10, 2015, he published a comprehensive governance reform report on FIFA.
During the elective FIFA Congress that brought Infantino to the FIFA Presidency on February 26, 2016 the FIFA congress approved significant governance reforms, which had largely been devised by Domenico Scala along his reform “blueprint” published in September 2015.
Scala’s proposals sought to reshape FIFA along the lines of a modern corporation. with the most significant reforms being the introduction of term limits and the split of the FIFA executive committee (later called the FIFA Council) along the lines of large corporations.
Domenico Scala probably touched some raw nerves when he called for the six confederations to themselves undergo reforms, including integrity checks for their officials along the lines of those introduced at FIFA for all elected officials.
Infantino was extremely uncomfortable with Scala and the reforms that he was bringing to FIFA. He was also very uncomfortable with then heads of the investigatory and adjudicatory chambers of the FIFA Ethics committee, which had used their independence to clear the road for him to the FIFA Presidency by banning both Blatter and Platini…he would not want to take chances with them himself…
But this is a story (scandal?) for another day…
During the first FIFA Council meeting in Zurich immediately after his election, Infantino stated that he would apply the new Governance rules to the letter in appointment of the FIFA SG, meaning that the position would be advertised, candidatures scrutinized and the choice made in consultation with the members of the FIFA Council.
Scala was all smiles, beaming with pride and joy, and probably thanking God in his daily bedtime prayers for bringing a reincarnation of his son (Jesus Christ) to the FIFA Presidency.
Three months later in Mexico and on the sidelines of that years congress, Infantino informed the members of the Council of his choice, Fatma Samoura, during the closed doors meeting and he further informed them that he would disclose her appointment to the FIFA Congress the following day. Boom!
No advertisements, no formal process of head-hunting, no discussion…nothing!
When Fatma’s image was projected onto the big screens of the Mexico FIFA Congress, there was rapturous applause from the delegates, with a preening Infantino sure that he had scored big-time, by on-boarding a woman, and an African for that matter, the ultimate act of affirmative action in a male-dominated sport.
Being himself a Swiss-Italian, Infantino knew that Scala would probably not accept this state of affairs. Quite right too, because Scala chose the way of the Samurai, and committed “ritual suicide” by resigning that same evening.
In Senegal, everyone was scratching their heads when the announcement went out that one of their countrymen had been hired for this top football seat, all of them wondering “who the fuck is Fatma Samoura?”
Fatma Samoura must come from a very well-off Senegalese family that would have enabled her to study in France from a very young age until her University graduation from the University of Lyon; Institut d’Etudes Supérieures Spécialisées (IECS) where she apparently majored in English and Spanish.
You only needed to listen to her attempt to communicate with FA Presidents from Latin America to fully grasp the absolute fraud this degree major must have been.
She then joined the UN in Rome as a logistician in 1995 before serving as country representative or Deputy Humanitarian coordinator in seven countries: Republic of Djibouti, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Niger, Madagascar and Nigeria.
We have also been scratching our heads trying to find the link between Fatma’s degree in languages and her role in the UN, though we know that the UN is a lot like CAF, if you want to see miracles, no need to go to church, go these two institutions.
Did Fatma also learn to speak Italian during her posting in Rome…? Hmmm!
It was during her posting in Guinea that she would meet up with her husband, a former footballer who would probably have become a mega-star hadn’t he been badly injured at the age of 20, and who represents the entirety of football knowledge that Fatma holds, according to one of her self-confessions in a media interview.
We have carefully curated her media interviews, which are quite telling when you look at them carefully.
Fatma repeatedly stated during these interviews that she was proud to have broken the glass ceiling of the football world as a woman, black, African and Muslim.
Yes, she quoted “Muslim” on many opportunities. We have attempted to find examples of women who have been pioneers and who have mentioned their religion in their media interviews, but couldn’t find any.
This is unsettling to us because it was during the holy month of Ramadhan when Fatma formally took over in Zurich and in one of her more infamous first edicts, scrapped the annual Christmas party held for staff and their families in December.
Instead, she inserted this party in January to remove any association with Christian lore, probably hoping to align it with the Lunar New Year that is celebrated by the populous Chinese people.
This Muslim woman had managed to deftly and bloodlessly do for her faith what it took Saladin to do over 1,000 years before, with tens of thousands of dead men against the Crusaders during the battle of Hattin.
She had silently suppressed an entire belief system, aided unwittingly by Infantino who likely didn’t even notice it, as he was totally focused on shifting the outlook of FIFA to the only place where money without question or responsibility could be obtained – the Middle East.
Another of her early decisions, which is much more important for football, was the disbandment of the Committee against Racism for the dubious reason that it had “fulfilled its objectives”.
How? You might be wondering, was it because all opportunities to fight racism had been explored and executed by the committee or was it because there was no racism anymore thanks to the committee’s efforts?
We initially always assumed that the decision to disband this committee was the brainchild of Infantino, but now confirmed that it originated from the desk of a person who believes that she broke the glass ceiling in football by (also) being BLACK.
So we wonder, aren’t the racist chants and insults not directed at African players or players of African descent? Aren’t the worst offenders from continental Europe where both she and Infantino are more or less domiciled?
Strangely, Infantino is part Italian while Fatma spent several years in Rome…do they know the role played by Italians in the culture of racism in football? For example;
On 7 October 2014, Carlo Tavecchio (Italian FA President) was banned by UEFA for racist remarks for six months, his exact quote (translated) was:
“England identifies the subjects that come in, if they have the professionalism to get them to play, but we say that Opti Poba[a hypothetical player] came here, that before he ate bananas, now plays holder in Lazio and that’s okay. In England he must demonstrate its curriculum and its pedigree ….”
He was not allowed to hold any position in UEFA, and was barred from the UEFA Congress of March 2015.
But FIFA, big brother and all-seeing-eye continues to consort with racists while giving the rest of the World lip service.
Ironically on BBC, Fatma went ahead to decry opposition to her great initiatives at FIFA, saying that she was being targeted simply because she is a woman and a BLACK one at that. Wow!
So, does she mean that racism is alive and well at FIFA, and isn’t it ironical that she now cries “race” on international media platforms after she took away the anti-racism platform that would have fought for herself and her fellow BLACK stragglers in football?
Remind us, which course did Fatma graduate at the University of Lyon?
Surely opposition to her presence at FIFA would probably never be on the basis of race but likely on the basis of competence, no?
Fatma has to justify her €1.5 million annual salary while masking her complete and utter unsuitability in this position, and she did this by going on a whirlwind cost-cutting spree that included the arbitrary sacking of career FIFA employees.
Apparently Fatma, upon arrival in Zurich, had discovered (much to her delight) that under Swiss law it is possible to just sack anyone, either by claiming a breach of confidentiality or declaring their positions redundant, as long as you provided a 3 month severance package.
At her previous posting in the UN, employees were protected by strict labor laws and especially expatriates, who were often impossible to sack unless they did something really stupid like sexually harass other junior employees (like her friend, CAF President Ahmad who regularly sexually harassed and even assaulted female employees).
Ironically, it was during the induction of 6 brand new FIFA Directors in the main hall, that Fatma attempted to reassure the highly demoralized FIFA employees, who were shaken by the rapid-fire sacking of between 30 -40 of their colleagues since her arrival.
“Don’t worry, it is almost over” she said, before describing the sacked employees in the most contemptuous and dehumanizing terms. Sociologists tell us that it is normal to de-humanize people in your mind in order to be able to carry out atrocities against them.
Didn’t the Nazi refer to the Jews as Untermensch (subhuman) before proceeding with their deadly pogroms against them? Or in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, where the Hutu referred to the targeted Tutsi as Inyenze (cockroaches) before targeting them in the most deadly 100 days anywhere since World War 2?
But Fatma was not yet done…
She then added that she would review the daily allowances for employees in mission (those who go out on missions outside of Zurich to the 200+ member associations) and which amounted to 150 Swiss francs a day, because she had discovered that many were earning quite a lot resulting in commensurate salary increase, which obviously had her wondering if so many missions were necessary.
She had obviously brought her humanitarian work brain to a football organization where she tried to rationalize these missions along the lines of the UN and not (as Scala had envisaged) as a global corporation.
You see, at the UN, Fatma was accustomed to have her salary and emoluments being defined by color (and no, not by skin color).
In the UN system, white color classification denoted the calmest and securest posting like in Geneva or Rome, which meant that no allowances were given, which might have been a bit unfair because these places also tended to be the most ridiculously expensive places to live.
Orange color classification would denote postings that were moderately secure and would allow you to bump up your existence accordingly.
Finally, the Red classification would denote highly insecure setting with the allowances allowing you to raise living standards there to 1st World level, granted also that this cost would still be relatively low and the allowances let you exist in surreal lifestyle.
Having first been posted in Rome, Fatma would not be eligible for allowances and she only started receiving them when she was posted in backwater (shithole) countries in Africa.
In Africa, in places where Fatma served like in Sudan (Darfur, she claims) her colour code swung between Orange and Red, meaning that for most of those 21 years she served the UN system, she benefited from moderate to huge allowances except for the period that she was in Rome.
But make no mistake, earning allowances in the UN is an extreme sport, where you would really need to prove that you deserve them, and the color classification being implemented to the letter and assessed regularly.
During her posting in Madagascar, she supplemented these high earnings by getting involved in business side-hustles, her friend Ahmad (now CAF boss) was the Minister for Fisheries in this island Nation where fishing is the most critical economic sector.
Ahmad got into business with Fatma and the current Mauritius FA President Mohammed Ally Samir Sobha, which involved their private company being awarded fishing concessions by the Ministry on one hand, before immediately onward-selling these concessions (the trio of Ahmad-Fatma-Sobha had no capacity to exploit them) to Chinese companies that paid cash for them.
t was this scandal that got Ahmad kicked out of Government and an investigation into his activities opened by the then new Government dispensation.
In Zurich, Fatma has continued with her mindless changes oblivious to several facts (or simply being unable to rationalize) for instance, UN staff all over the World, mainly expatriates earn their salaries tax-free, while at FIFA all salaries and emoluments are charged the appropriate level of tax, which is then remitted to Government.
So why would anyone begrudge another their hard-earned salary and allowances when they pay their taxes, and contribute meaningfully to the FIFA earnings that Fatma likes to boast about at any given opportunity?
But Fatma was still only warming up, she went for the jugular, by targeting the allowances and travel arrangements of FIFA Council members, for instance getting their annual $300,000 allowances taxed, withdrawing their complimentary limousine rides upon arrival for meetings, and laughably, denying them Swiss chocolates to which they had been accustomed.
The fallout from targeting FIFA Council members was highlighted in her speech to CAF staff during her takeover as Special Delegate last August in Cairo.
In FIFA, she has been trying to limit the annual salary reviews and increments, which to some employees goes as high as 25% while in the UN the annual salary review is stuck at a ceiling of 20%.
So we have to wonder, should affirmative action preclude competence?
In any other field, would Fatma be tolerated? Would the WHO get an SG who was not a Doctor, or the UN get an SG who had never been a Diplomat?
For all his faults and weaknesses, Sepp Blatter was excessively passionate about the game of football, and had served the organization for more than 40 years, meaning that he understood the workings and needs of the game intricately.
Blatter’s choice of SGs was also restricted to those with a deep understanding of the football ecosystem.
Infantino has, however, plunged global football into perpetual darkness, which is made manifest by his open dalliance with corruption as seen with Rinaldo Arnold, Michael Lauber, Cedric Remund and others in the Swiss legal system.
In Africa, he stands rooted to one spot, knowing full well that CAF mandarins have stolen $24 million in 3 years, yet hoping somehow that the passage of time will obfuscate this fact.
His hiring of Fatma Samoura was the biggest insult to the game, surely OUR football deserves better than this appendage of feminism and affirmative action.