By: Luka Perš
We are revealing why the President of the Court of Audit Tomaž Vesel became the Chairman of the Audit and Compliance Committee at FIFA. This is a role that brings him around 246 thousand euros of gross annual earnings, in addition to the salary he receives as the President of the Court of Audit. The year 2016 was a turning point for global football. The long-time FIFA President Sepp Blatter and the UEFA President Michel Platini had to leave their positions due to a corruption scandal. Gianni Infantino (FIFA) and Aleksander Čeferin (UEFA) got to ascend their thrones.
The story began at the famous FIFA Congress that happened in Mexico at the end of 2016. At the congress, Gianni Infantino presented a new vision of world football and his intentions of eradicating corruption from football. However, all of this was just the backdrop for the acceptance of Infantino’s main proposal. After eleven hours of discussion, Infantino suggested that he should have his own right to hire and fire people in FIFA’s independent committees. This upset Vesel’s predecessor, Domenico Scala. He called Infantino’s proposal a “coup d’état.”
Domenico Scala is a well-known Swiss manager. Inside World Football has released footage that features Infantino and Scala. On the footage, you can clearly hear that Infantino used all of his power to remove Scala. The experienced long-time businessman did not agree with the way Infantino managed the organization, so on the 12th of May 2016, he resigned from the position of Chairman of the Audit and Compliance Committee at FIFA.
Čeferin actively lobbied for Vesel’s position at FIFA, in order to protect Infantino
Then, Aleksander Čeferin got involved. Despite the fact that Čeferin continuously denies that he had anything to do with lobbying for Vesel’s position, the Norwegian investigative journalists refuted his claims. The media outlet Josimar wrote that just two months after the turbulent congress in Mexico, Infantino appointed the current President of the Court of Audit, Tomaž Vesel, to the position of Chairman of the Audit and Compliance Committee, as Scala’s successor. Several world media outlets reported that the then-vice-chairwoman of the committee, Sindi Mabaso Koyana from South Africa, recommended Vesel.
But all of that was just a show for the public. Behind the scenes, it was actually Aleksander Čeferin who most actively lobbied for Vesel’s position at FIFA. According to Josimar, the sources of the Norwegian research magazine that mainly deals with irregularities in football revealed that Čeferin was the one who asked Infantino to allow him to suggest his own candidate. He convinced him that Vesel would be the most suitable person for the position of chairman of the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee.
In some of our previous articles, we revealed that Aleksander Čeferin and Tomaž Vesel have been acquaintances and even friends for many years now. They attended the high school in Ivančna Gorica together. Their joint path continued while they studied law at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana. They were also teammates in the Ljubljana Lawyers amateur football team. Their ties have previously already been mentioned by the Norwegian investigative journalist Andreas Selliaas, in an article called The Kuwait Conspiracy 2.0.
Vesel already turned a blind eye when he was still part of the Football Association of Slovenia
Let’s not forget, Aleksander Čeferin and Tomaž Vesel found themselves in serious trouble. Čeferin is facing serious allegations and even evidence that he lied about his football experience in 2011 when he ran for the position of President of the Football Association of Slovenia. He claimed that he gained the necessary experience in football as an official in the football clubs FC Litija, FC Ljubljana Lawyers and FC Olimpija Ljubljana in the period between 2005 and 2011. However, Čeferin actually lied about all of this and cheated his way to the position of President of the Football Association of Slovenia, and consequently also to the position of President of the UEFA.
In 2015, the Football Association of Slovenia, led by Čeferin, decided to buy a 17% stake in the Sports Lottery from Probanka in liquidation. Due to the poor financial situation, the management team of the Football Association of Slovenia received a loan of 4 million euros from UEFA. Čeferin assured the public that football clubs in Slovenia would benefit from this, as they would be entitled to an additional half a million euros each year, due to the company’s profit.
The loan was approved by then-President of the UEFA, Michel Platini, Platini’s Secretary-General and current FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Platini’s Vice-President Marios Lefkaritis, Financial Director Josef Koller and the Deputy Secretary-General, Theodore Theodoridis. The current FIFA President, Infantino, also found himself under investigation by the FIFA Ethics Commission in 2016. Čeferin was accused of lying by a member of the Finance Committee, the Dane Allen Hanson. He made it clear to Josimar that the loan should have been approved by members of the Finance Committee, but that did not happen.
Together – in good and bad
The President of the Court of Audit, Tomaž Vesel, turned a blind eye to all of the irregularities mentioned above. Despite the fact that he has held the position of President since 2013, he has never been interested in the business performance of the Football Association of Slovenia. Since 2003, the Association has received more than ten million euros of budget funds. One of the functions of the Court of Audit is also the supervision of all companies that receive public funds. As a result, Čeferin rewarded Vesel with the position of Vice-President in the Youth Football Commission, and later with the position at FIFA.
In addition to being in a conflict of interest with his position at the Football Association as President of the Court of Audit, he has also still not shown the Commission for Prevention of Corruption’s permits for engaging in additional activities at FIFA. Funny or not, Josimar also thought that Vesel would leave the position of President of the Court of Audit, but to the surprise of everyone in Slovenia, he continues to cling to it.
You can read the full article of the Norwegian media Josimar, which specializes in investigating irregularities in global football, HERE.