Darmanin Demajo to file libel suit against MFA President

Former MFA treasurer and candidate for the presidency of the Malta Football Association, Norman Darmanin Demajo announced that he will be filing libel suit against MFA President Dr Joe Mifsud following comments by the latter during the programme Dissett on TVM on Tuesday.

While addressing a press conference at the Le Meridien St. Julian’s on Saturday, Darmanin Demajo said he wanted to protect his integrity after being accused of being a liar by the MFA President who also challenged him to take him to court.

Darmanin Demajo, who was flanked by his lawyer Dr Chris Bonnett and St. Andrews president Paul Falzon, explained in detail the whole issue regarding the contract which covered a friendly match between the Malta national team and top German side Bayern Munich which was played in January 2001.

The St. Andrews vice-president said that after watching the programme Dissett on Tuesday, he felt he had to reply to accusations by Dr Mifsud who challenged him to sue him for libel. He said the MFA president has been accusing him for the past nineteen months without having the opportunity to defend himself.

Darmanin Demajo said that when he held the position of treasurer of the Malta Football Association, rather than having a conflict with the MFA President, it was more of a personal dilemma: what was he due to do after viewing particular documents and transactions in the MFA accounts. He said he was not getting answers for certain questions. This was making it really difficult for him considering that he was the association’s treasurer, they were friends and the MFA president was also a member of both the FIFA and UEFA Executive Committees at the time.

These events surrounding the controversial contract regarding the Bayern Munich occurred around a decade ago but the issue resurfaced once again a year-and-a-half ago following an interview by Mark Attard with Norman Darmanin Demajo on Illum. Two weeks later, during a meeting of the Council of the Malta Football Association, Dr Mifsud attacked the former treasurer over this interview. Then in the programme Replay on Net Television, the MFA president claimed that Darmanin Demajo did a lot of harm to the association and therefore he did not deserve to become the president of the association.

Darmanin Demajo said that he wrote personally to Dr Mifsud, saying he will not stay with his mouth shut following such accusations and that he was prepared to take all necessary action to safeguard his integrity. He said he reminded him of the allegations he had put forward – allegations which the MFA president failed to rebut – and put forward fresh allegations.

The former MFA treasurer said that he wrote three letters – one to the Board of Inquiry, another to the Board of Internal Auditors and to the MFA General Secretary. He doubted these letters ever reached the respective boards. Darmanin Demajo, on the other hand, said that the MFA president regarded these allegations only as a matter to be sued for libel rather than something to be investigated.

Darmanin Demajo went on to give a detailed timeline of events regarding the whole issue.

He said that on October 12, 2000, the sum of USD 250,000 was deposited into the accounts of the Malta Football Association. On the same day, MFA president Dr Joe Mifsud presented a contract to show the origin of this sum of money. Darmanin Demajo said that in this contract, there were a number of issues which were not acceptable. He said the contract was signed only by Dr Joe Mifsud on June 1, 2000, although according to the MFA statute, contracts were due to be signed by two persons. The contract was signed by CWL and “Dr Joe Mifsud c/o MFA”.

CWL Telesport & Marketing was a Swiss sports rights marketing company whose director was former German national team player Günter Netzer. The company was eventually acquired by German media group Kirch.

Among the clauses in the contract was “a guarantee” that the Malta national team had to play a friendly match, confidentiality – ‘limit knowledge to the top-level officials for obligations to be honoured’ while the amount to be paid was not typed but was handwritten on dotted lines. Darmanin Demajo said that the contract deposited by the MFA president was not the original document but a ‘true copy of the original’.

Darmanin Demajo said that for him as treasurer, this was not acceptable. He said that he was not allowed to speak at the Council, claiming that the microphone was switched off twice as he was trying to speak. Therefore to explain his version of facts, he had to hold a meeting at the Corinthia Hotel.

In the mean time, foreign journalists were trying to prove what allegedly was a whole plan by Germany to win the bid to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup. A number of articles were written and BBC current affairs programme also investigated the matter.

It was alleged that Germans were trying to influence four decisive votes in the FIFA Executive Committee ahead of the voting to award the organisation of the 2006 World Cup.

An article appearing in ManagerMagazin in 2003 claimed that according to the contract, signed in June 2000, “payment has to be effected on a trust account.” Darmanin Demajo said that the association held no trust accounts and had only one bank account. According to the article, contracts between CWL with football associations or their officials in Malta, Thailand, Trinidad and a club in Tunisia were discussed.

The national teams of these countries and the Tunisian club were to play friendly games with FC Bayern Munich with CWL acquiring the TV rights for these matches from the foreign partners and paid accordingly. As a rule about 300,000 US Dollars were to be paid per match. These had to be paid within fourteen days from the signing of the contract.

Darmanin Demajo said he was only demanding an explanation over these allegations: what was the reason the money was deposited only four months after the signing of the contract and whether the sum of money involved was USD 250,000 or USD 300,000. He said that by viewing the original contract document, these doubts would be cleared immediately.

The former MFA treasurer said that since he received no reply over the past ten years, he is hoping to receive a reply for his questions from Court. He said that if nothing was wrong, any of the persons involved may have been brought to Malta to give their evidence over the case.

Norman Darmanin Demajo said that if his questions were to be answered satisfactorily, he would be ready to admit he was wrong.

He went on to appeal to Dr Mifsud “to come clean” over the Bayern Munich game issue, to sit around a table and answer his questions. The St. Andrews vice-president said that football was not a single man’s property and the team surrounding him was seeking answers for the same questions.