Former Malta Football Association president Joe Mifsud told a court today that he “could not remember” why it took him four months to disclose the contents of a contract signed with Swiss TV rights agency CWL.
The $250,000 contract between the MFA and CWL covered TV rights for the Malta-Bayern Munich football match in 2001.
Dr Mifsud was being cross-examined by lawyer Chris Bonett during libel proceedings initiated by Dr Mifsud in 2008 against his successor, Norman Darmanin Demajo, and the newspaper Illum.
Mr Darmanin Demajo had written to the MFA secretary asking it to investigate allegations of financial wrongdoing. Mr Darmanin Demajo had served as treasurer to the MFA prior to the year 2000.
Dr Mifsud denied any link between Bayern Munich's money-spinning friendly in Malta and Germany's bid to stage the 2006 World Cup. At the time, Dr Mifsud served as a member of the FIFA Executive Committee.
CWL had presented him with a finished contract, he said, adding that he could not remember whether the legendary player Franz Beckenbauer was present.
What he knew with absolute certainty was that Beckenbauer was present, along with other Fifa representatives, for the England-Malta match in the year 2000.
Dr Mifsud said that the contract was signed by himself at his Qrendi house. Dr Mifsud said that it was not common practice for him to sign contracts at his home but the day happened to fall on a weekend. The contract was however, actually signed on June 1, 2000, a Thursday, the lawyer pointed out.
He described the contract as a “present” from the CWL, since at the time the MFA needed money to build the Millennium Stand.
“It could be that I invited them home for a drink.”
He dismissed Dr Bonett’s statement that the friendly match with Bayern Munich was “extraordinary”, adding that the MFA had been paid more money by England.
Reacting to Dr Bonett’s question that he kept hidden for four months a contract with one of the highest sums, Dr Mifsud said the sum was “miserly” compared to €2 million contracts he had handled.
He had then sent the contract to the finance department and it somehow ended up in a News of the World article. Dr Mifsud described Mr Darmanin Demajo as the “snake” within the MFA who fed information to foreign media.
“I knew it was him who passed the information because one day I received a call from a journalist who thought I was him and he started talking. This happened before the article appeared.”