Yet another head has fallen from the derided old FIFA ‘inner circle’ with the sacking of Markus Kattner, the finance director who has been interim secretary-general since last summer.
Kattner, 45-year-old German, joined the world football federation in 2003 from business consultancy corporation McKinsey in the restructing which followed the near-financial catastrophe of the collapse of commercial agent ISL and broadcast partner Kirch.
He remained largely out of the headlines and in the public shadow of long-serving president Sepp Blatter and high-profile Jerome Valcke, the Frenchman who took over as secretary general in the autumn of 2007.
However Kattner’s credibility came under increasing pressure as details surfaced about questionable payments ‘on his watch.’
Notable disbursements included the $10m handed to CONCACAF boss Jack Warner on behalf of the South African 2010 World Cup bid committee and then the risible SFr2m gifted to UEFA president Michel Platini – another FIFA vice-president – on Blatter’s orders in 2011.
Since then it has emerged that Kattner enjoyed not only a significant contract but a little-known highly-lucrative bonus arrangement between 2008 and 2014.
This is understood also to have come into question in the recent financial turmoil when FIFA’s financial projections were jeopardised by a lack of sponsor and broadcaster confidence after the scandal-scarred past 12 months.
A FIFA statement said only: “Markus Kattner has been dismissed from his position effective immediately. FIFA’s internal investigation uncovered breaches of his fiduciary responsibilities in connection with his employment contract.
FIFA observers have considered that Kattner lasted as long as he did only through force of necessity and while he remained useful to the United States and Swiss lawyers overseeing FIFA affairs in keeping the body’s administration ‘ticking over’.
His last major assignment was conducting FIFA Congress in Mexico City two weeks ago for new president Gianni Infantino and presenting the financial report.
Notably Kattner hurried through a vote on the controversial regulatory change removing the independence of the judicial committees and which provoked the resignation of Domenico Scala as audit/compliance chairman.
At some point, however, and with Fatma Soumara arriving as secretary-general next month, Kattner was always expected to follow his other former colleagues and directors who have fallen foul of the law and/or the management:
Jerome Valcke was suspended by FIFA last summer over allegations concerning misuse of expenses and World Cup tickets sales; he was sacked in January and then banned from all football for 12 years by the FIFA ethics committee in February; Valcke has denied all wrongdoing;
Jack Warner quit all football in 2011 ahead of an ethics investigation and has since been banned for life; the Trinidadian, who has also protests his innocence, is currently contesting an extradition application from the United States Justice Department on corruption charges arising from its FIFAGate investigation;
Sepp Blatter was suspended provisionally last October by the FIFA ethics chamber after becoming the subject of a Swiss criminal investigation over the Platini payment; he was subsquently banned from football for six years and is awaiting an appeal hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport;
Michel Platini has submitted his resignation as president of UEFA after failing to persuade CAS to quash a ban imposed by a FIFA ethics judge over the SFr2m payment; he secured ‘only’ a trimming of the ban to four years.
Kattner, like the above, is also likely to find himself in another firing line, that of the FIFA ethics committee.