AN ARTICLE BY Peter Aeschlimann in Time Magazine (originally published in Tages Anzeiger) looks at the growing sense of disillusionment with which the citizens of Zurich are beginning to view international football’s governing body.
Based in Zurich since 1927, FIFA was leased a new premises in the Sonnenberg area of the city in 1996. It is the charity use of this site, and its flagrant abuse of the various civic stipulations under which it was leased, that’s providing the legal basis for the bill.
“In 1996, FIFA leased the Sonnenberg site from the city for 60 years with a right to build. Later, however, it moved its offices into larger premises. Since 2006, it has been using the Sonnenberg property as a convention center and pays the city 200,000 Swiss francs (about 250,000 dollars) in interest a year…
“The reason for the dissatisfaction about the present situation among ‘regular folks,’ says Glättli, is that while the food in the Sonnenberg restaurant is great, it’s not affordable for most people. And yet that was one of the stipulations in the 1996 building contract: the renovated Sonnenberg restaurant had to be within the means of the many. One glance at Jacky Donatz’s menu is enough to know it’s not. Starters like Sonnenberg lobster salad cost 56 francs (69 dollars). The goose liver tartlets with blackcurrant jelly sell for 39 francs (48 dollars). A small veal cutlet at Jacky’s runs 62 francs (77 dollars), a larger one 89 francs (110 dollars). The lowest-priced thing available is a 26-franc (32-dollar) bratwurst with potato rösti.”
The story of the Sonnenberg restaurant reads like an account of FIFA’s administrative misdeeds in microcosmic form. The organisation currently pays around $2.1m on over $1.2b in equity. Due to its classification as a charity, it currently pays no tax on its sizable annual profits.
Balthasar Glätti, one of the couple of council members sponsoring the bill, expresses the concerns of many when he says:
“It’s galling that we have to try to save money by cutting food budgets at old peoples’ homes while we’re subsidizing FIFA… We’re throwing money at FIFA, which is a global concern completely lacking in transparency.”
Were FIFA to be taxed as a business, it would have raised in excess of $71m in additional revenue for the Canton of Zurich last year.