Andrew Jennings, the investigative journalist who wrote extensively about corruption at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and world football association FIFA, died last Saturday. The Scot turned 78 years old.
Jennings worked for several newspapers before joining the BBC radio program Checkpoint. In 1986, the British broadcaster refused its documentary about corruption at Scotland Yard. He promptly resigned and incorporated his material into his first book.
Not much later, he also threw himself into malpractice in sports, or rather: at major sports organizations such as the IOC and FIFA. He accused football executives, led by former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, of enriching themselves at the expense of sport and, according to him, bribery around board elections and awards of major tournaments was commonplace.
He famously asked Blatter during a press conference: “Have you ever taken a bribe?” Not that Jennings expected the Swiss to admit to having received a bribe, but he did indicate that he was looking for evidence to back up his suspicions.
Jennings compared FIFA to the Italian mafia. “Everything is kept internal and everything revolves around omertà, silence: you don’t talk to anyone.” Omertà was therefore called his book from 2014, which was subtitled: ‘Fifa under Sepp Blatter, an organized crime family’.
Finally, the FBI got to work on findings and confidential documents that Jennings had collected. This led to several arrests and also to the fall of Blatter at FIFA and many others in his wake.