19 June 2017

Uganda: FIFA to Magogo - File Your Defense Today

Photo: The Observer
Fufa president Moses Magogo.

The world football governing body, Fifa, has given the president of the Federation of Uganda Football Association (Fufa), Moses Magogo, until today, June 19, to formally submit his defence against claims that he engaged in the illegal sale of the 2014 World Cup tickets.

This ultimatum is contained in a letter to Fufa from the chairperson of the investigating chamber of the Fifa Ethics Committee, Maria Claudia Rojas.

"The world football governing body, Fifa, has started preliminary investigations into allegations that the president of the Ugandan football association, Moses Magogo, was involved in the illegal sale of 2014 World Cup tickets held in Brazil.

Further information is needed in relation to documentation of the alleged sale of tickets not later than June 19. And also, a defence from Magogo is needed not later than June 19," Fifa's letter dated June 9 to Magogo partly reads.

Magogo couldn't be interviewed for a comment at the weekend. He neither picked nor returned our repeated calls.

But Fufa spokesman Ahmed Hussein told The Observer in a Saturday interview that they had not received any letter from Fifa giving Magogo a deadline for filing his defence.

"We have been hearing rumours swirling around and that is all. But if we get any communication from Fifa in that line, our legal team will handle it," Hussein said.

Asked whether there is any merit in the accusations against Magogo, Hussein replied; "This is not an issue that we are surprised about. During this electioneering time, so many cases will be fabricated against the current Fufa administration and especially the person of Magogo."

MORE EVIDENCE

Despite the denials, the whistleblower, Allan Ssewanyana, who is the Member of Parliament for Makindye West, has gone ahead to furnish Fifa with more evidence to support his case.

In his May 30 petition to Fifa, Ssewanyana claimed that Magogo gave Uganda's 2014 World Cup ticket allotment to businessman Howard Schwartz based in Florida, USA.

Ssewanyana claimed Magogo earned an initial payment of $5000 (about Shs17.9 million) from 177 tickets, which violates the Fifa code of Ethics.

In a supporting affidavit, Ssewanyana accuses Magogo of engaging in business dealings with Peninah Kabenge Aligawesa, the sports tutor of Makerere University. He claims Kabenge was the agent in the whole deal.

Interviewed at the weekend, Kabenge said, "I do not want to pay any attention to matters that do not improve me in anyway as a person. I have never been involved in any business dealings, let alone ticket sales, with Magogo."

She said she won't labour to respond to the claims or white wash her image. "People will always talk and say things that are wrong about others. But if you dwell on that, you cannot grow," Kabenge added.

According to Ssewanyana's affidavit, on May 21, 2014, Kabenge ordered and booked 126 tickets on behalf of her principal Schwartz. And that as a result, Magogo received over $40,000 (about Shs 143.6m) from Schwartz, in addition to the earlier $5000 profit. This transaction is allegedly backed up by email correspondences between the said Schwartz and Magogo.

Kabenge was reportedly copied in on the correspondences. Magogo allegedly sold 126 Fifa hospitality tickets for $357 each, yet Fifa had set an official price of $90 each.

Section 4.1 of the general terms and conditions relating to tickets, (especially World Cup ones), prohibits a ticket holder from resell or acting as a commercial agent for another party or otherwise transfer their tickets in any way without the specific prior written consent of Fifa. This applies to all Fifa members, including the non-participating members in a World Cup.

Magogo will hope that his name is not added to the long list of high-profile football officials involved in illegal ticket sales. Former Wimbledon FC footballer in England, Robbie Earle, was in June 2010 dismissed from ITV, where he worked as a pundit, after being caught in a racket, which sold 400 World Cup tickets for at least $3,000 each.

After former Fifa President Sepp Blatter and former Uefa boss Michel Platini were forced to step aside in the wake of several corruption cases in 2015, there is every sign that the Fifa Ethics and Integrity Committee will spare no one found in contempt of its laws.

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