Andrew Jennings Football Hero

Andrew Jennings

Andrew Jennings.
Andrew Jennings 1943-2022 (AP pic.)

Fearless journalist and scourge of FIFA Andrew Jennings has died at the age of 78.

The Scots-born Jennings was a hero to investigative reporters everywhere for his relentless pursuit of criminals. After tailing drug-dealing policemen and Sicilian mafiosi as part of the Sunday Times' famed Insight team, he turned his attention to sport, revealing the corruption at the International Olympic Committee.

But it was his work shining a spotlight on FIFA which made him famous late in life. While everyone suspected wrongdoings in Zurich, it was left to the white-haired Londoner with Columbo attire to follow the scent like a bloodhound to its source. 

His books Foul! and The Dirty Game are required reading to understand the FIFA machine.

Jennings' BBC documentary FIFA's Dirty Secrets in 2010 was wonderfully entertaining and brought his buccaneering work to a wider audience. It remains a fantastic testament to his dogged commitment to the truth and almost childlike need for justice.

His solo research led the FBI no less to arrange a meeting with him and afterwards plan the famous Zurich arrests of 2015.

Jennings became the king of the doorstepping, confronting CONCACAF's Jack Warner repeatedly as well as FIFA President Sepp Blatter:

More than anyone, Jennings lifted the lid on the embezzlement and kickbacks of the FIFA, which led to the downfall of Sepp Blatter and his gang of ne'er do wells. And he did it all almost single-handed, ploughing his own furrow.

"Anybody who knows FIFA knows that you have to pay to play" was one of his great quips.

He had disdain for football reporters in general for ignoring the elephant in the room - that the sport was being run by thieves and his high-profile investigations alerted the good men and women at FIFA to come looking for him.

His methods were simple yet effective - knock on doors to advertise the fact he wanted whistleblowers' documents, wait until they arrived then publicise them. He insisted that in the darkest corridors there were always honest employees willing to talk.

I corresponded with him briefly and his enthusiasm for exposing the wrongdoing shone out of every email he sent me. He had an ebullient desire to bring the bad guys down.

He was fearless, like the greatest heroes, openly confronting his quarries, once grabbing the microphone at a FIFA press conference and demanding Blatter reveal if he had taken bribes.

If FIFA is a cleaner and more transparent organisation today it is down in no small part to the tireless work of this wonderful man and investigative legend, Andrew Jennings.

FIFA Related

The Men Who Stole The World Cup

Fifa Stuck in a Swiss Role

Blatter's Tainted Coronation

Havelange The Dictator

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post