Can you trust the numbers you see in your accounts?

A valid Audit Report?

Within days of the dramatic arrests of many FIFA officials over the summer, Greg Dyke, the English FA Chairman, was asking many questions himself. Regardless of whether you believe football to be corrupt or not, do you need to ask questions over the validity of an Audit Report and indeed the financial statements of non audited accounts?

Criminal investigators have again walked up the stairs at FIFA HQ in Zurich Hill and tapped on the door of El Presidante, Sepp Blatter. It is alleged that Sepp made a payment of 2 million Swiss Francs (circa £1.35m) to Michel Platini in February 2011. The Swiss Attorney General, Michael Lauber stated that payments were ‘allegedly’ for work that Platini had done at FIFA between January 1999 and June 2002 – a period almost nine years before the money dropped into Platini’s bank account. Worst still was the timing of the payment.Spring 2011 was the period that Platini decided not to stand against Blatter for FIFA president and instead endorsed him.

History

Platini understood that Blatter would step down after his 3rd term in office but when he continued to stand, Platini had the option to run against him for the post. However, instead, Platini, the UEFA President urged its 53 National Associations to vote for Blatter – all shortly before the payment of 2m Swiss Francs.

The allegation

Platini has stated that the payment of 2m Swiss Francs, albeit nine years late was entirely normal and was for  “work which I carried out under a contract with FIFA.” But did the accounts show a liability for this when they were published, or in any subsequent year?

These latest accusations come at a time when FIFA is near collapse due to corruption allegations, indictments and arrests, whilst also at a time when Platini is offering to become the knight in shining armour to clear up the mess.

A wider challenge

The wider challenge though is familiar. If the organisation or one of its senior management were as corrupt as these allegations suggest and if the payments were made on this scale and frequency, why did no-one pick this up? Not least the FIFA auditors?

 

We can not comment about what FIFA may have said to their auditors from behind closed doors, but with this type of transaction, it is difficult to believe that this did not go unnoticed. Yet still, the auditors report for FIFA was clean.

And next year?

I wonder what next year’s accounts will say though?

And more importantly, who will be in charge of the beautiful game?