FIFA paid $27M toward World Cup feature film
SAO PAULO (AP) FIFA paid 20 million euros ($27.1 million) to help fund a movie about the World Cup featuring Tim Roth as its president, Sepp Blatter.
FIFA finance director Markus Kattner told reporters Monday that funding for ''United Passions'' was agreed at the 2009 congress in the Bahamas.
Some FIFA executive committee members privately said they had no idea football income was paying for a feature film.
''The costs are funded from an existing budget,'' Kattner said, citing a World Cup budget entry in FIFA's financial report presented in 2010. The exact purpose was unspecified.
Kattner said the film's total budget was 23.5 million euros ($32 million).
FIFA's contribution equals one year's budget for its ''Goal'' development program which funds football projects in mostly poorer countries.
FIFA's independent audit overseer, Domenico Scala, said football's governing body was entitled to spend the money on what critics have claimed was a vanity project for Blatter.
''Was it included in an approved budget? And the answer is yes,'' said Scala.
Still, the Swiss industrialist acknowledged that FIFA board members might not have seen a ''single line entry'' in a meeting agenda or financial report.
''United Passions'' stars Gerard Depardieu as World Cup founder Jules Rimet, the former FIFA president.
Sam Neill plays Joao Havelange, Blatter's Brazilian predecessor who led FIFA from 1974-98. Havelange resigned as honorary president last year when implicated in taking millions of dollars in kickbacks from World Cup commercial contracts.
Depardieu and Blatter launched the French-produced movie last month at the Cannes Film Festival. It currently has limited release in only a few countries.
Kattner said FIFA had originally wanted to fund a movie project to mark its centenary in 2004.