Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fair Play: Will AFC audit uncover a can of PFF worms?

A FEW months after Mari Martinez was ousted as the PFF president, I asked a few officials if they were going to pursue a case against the former president.

Surprisingly, they said no, but their logic wasn't much of a surprise--the former president was suffering from an illness and was in-and-out of the hospital.

And that, seemed to be the last of it.

But because of an audit of how former AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam's spent his funds, the PFF under Nonong Araneta will be forced to revisit the issue.

The AFC audit uncovered that Hammam gave $60,000 to Martinez and also covered his medical bill which amounted to some $12,000. 

Where the $60,000 went is anybody's guess as even Nonong says he has no idea about that.  

I'd like to know when the $60,000 was given as this could mean that the audit wasn't complete as Hammam, who visited the country in 2009, also pledged to give P10 million---half in 2009 and half in 2010--to the PFF.  Where it went? I have no idea, but I think the present officers of the PFF know where it went.

And I hope, for the sake of transparency, they'll show us the figures because the AFC audit showed Hammam paid for Martinez's medical bills but a financial report submitted to the PFF BOG in January, 2011--a month after Martinez was ousted--also showed PFF money being spent for medical and credit card bills. I think it was close to P500,000.  And that was just some of the PFF funds spent for personal use.

Where did those $60,000 and P10 million go?  I'd like to know and I don't agree with what Nonong Araneta said, that the PFF doesn't have to pursue it if it was just a personal transaction between Hammam and Martinez.

In an interview with AP, Araneta said, "If Mr. Hammam ever gave money to Mr. Martinez, it should be Mr. Hammam who should explain ...and the PFF has nothing to do with that. If Mr. Martinez received funds for his personal use, we cannot go after him because it was just between the two of them. Now, if money went to the PFF and was taken out for certain individuals, we will go after them."

This practice of sending funds "during crucial times" is not new.  Hammam was trying to win the support of the FA presidents in his bid for the Fifa vice presidency, hence his generosity.  And in the past, PFF presidents who face trouble suddenly have very loose purses.

I remember when another former president was facing an ouster move, all FA presidents (the ones who will vote) suddenly got a P20,000 "communication aid." After that, the ouster move was canned.

"I didn't touch it because it was deposited to my personal account," one president told me.

When Martinez was facing an ouster move, well, let's just say that he managed to hold them off, until he made the mistake of giving up the Azkals' home game, then, it was game over.

I really don't buy Nonong's explanation that he doesn't know where the $60,000 went because as I have happened to observe in the PFF, people talk all the time, especially when money's involved.

After I first wrote that Martinez should be ousted, someone told me that a particularly feisty FA president, who also wanted Mari out, met the former president and was asked point blank," How much do you want? Four..Five…monthly? Give me your ATM account."

I was told he didn't accept the bribe, but when I heard the story, I wondered who else got that offer and months later, Martinez survived an ouster vote. (Check this and this)

You may say that all of these are old issues, and may just hamper the PFF but I still think the Nonong should look into where the $60,000 went.  Even if it was a personal transaction, but still, Martinez, as PFF president means the federation was invovled. Why, if he wasnt the PFF president, would he have been able to enter into a personal transaction?

And if personal transactions are OK, would that mean future personal transactions between PFF officials and FA officials will be off the books?

I hope the PFF investigates the matter because the guys who benefitted from the $60,000 may still be in office.

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