Three cheers for the FBI.

Reply Fri 29 May, 2015 05:23 am
This comment is spot on.

Fifa’s lavish £150m headquarters in the hills above Zurich has been so often described as a Bond villain’s lair that the comparison has long since passed into cliche. But never has it been more appropriate than yesterday, when a self-pitying Sepp Blatter spent the morning holed up in his office receiving a string of visitors as he tried to plot a way out of the worst crisis of his 17-year tenure as president.

Naturally, his scheming concerned his personal survival in a role that carries with it an estimated $10m (£6.5m)salary and all the trappings of a head of state, rather than the future of his tattered and discredited governing body.

Michel Platini, the Uefa president who backed Blatter’s first campaign in 1998 and became the first in a succession of favoured then spurned potential successors, delivered a tear-stained plea to Blatter to go before today’s election. Naturally, he refused. Uefa itself is no paragon of virtue and the European game is too often perceived as a hectoring bully by the rest of the world. It needs to become part of the solution.

For never has an organisation become more inured to scandal than Fifa. From the 1998 election that brought Blatter to power, to the ISL scandal in which $100m in kickbacks were paid to senior executives, and the complex, controversial and chaotic race for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Blatter has reflexively learned to shrug off corruption on a scale that would sink the leader of any other organisation.

Down the years he has managed to successfully play off against one another a combustible mix of rogues and created a system that effectively allowed them to act with impunity in their own backyards using the power and privilege granted to them by their position. He has also learned to maintain the appearance of keeping his own hands clean. Down his 40 years he has regularly heard the shattering of broken glass but rarely been caught casting the stone. Never ask, never explain.

Even when he has been caught out – such as when he handled a $1m bribe meant for his mentor Havelange that was part of the web of $100m ISL kickbacks – he has managed to obfuscate and delay, using the Swiss legal system to his benefit. No longer. All those charged by the US Department of Justice on Wednesday have close links to Blatter and find themselves at the mercy of a suddenly emboldened Swiss prosecutor.

Fifa has tried to sing the old songs, shielding its leader from complicity. Blatter, too, when he finally emerged from crisis talks in his bunker to walk past the police vans parked outside the conference centre and deliver a predictably mendacious promise to change.

In his opening speech, he admitted the current situation was “unprecedented”. Back in 2011, when allegations of bribery and corruption again swirled around Zurich, he said: “We will put Fifa’s ship back on the right course in clear, transparent waters.” But four years on, with the situation so much more serious given the might of the US justice system ranged against him and some of those with whom he has been so closely entwined down the years facing extradition and FBI interrogation, the ship is nearly sunk.

On FridayToday he will promise to share Fifa’s World Cup bounty with its 209 members, skimming over the fact that it spends as much on salaries, protocol and other operating expenses as it does on football development.

Looking at the US charge sheet and considering what we now know about the 2018/22 World Cup race, together with the grim history outlined by investigative reporters down the years, a familiar thought resurfaces. Given all that has happened on his watch, Blatter is either corrupt or incompetent.

There is already a rush to proclaim the US case against Fifa and the culture of cosy kickbacks and patronage minted by Havelange and developed by Blatter during a period when World Cup income rocketed as world football’s “Salt Lake City moment”.

But that reference to the investigation into the grubby world of graft that characterised the bidding process for the 2002 Winter Olympics and led to a clean-up at the International Olympic Committee was not the point when its image began to improve. That was when its president Juan Antonio Samaranch finally left office. It is time Blatter finally looked in the mirror and did the same. For the game, for the world.

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Reply Fri 29 May, 2015 05:31 am
izzythepush wrote:

hawkeye10 wrote:
But no, I dont think even a place that has the stadiums built could get ready, and I am sure that the people of Brazil at least would not stand for any attempt to do the World Cup there 2 years from now.

Any country with enough stadiums could do it very easily, any western European country could do it.

Nor would you have to restrict it to one country. You could have it in Europe where just about every major city has a world class soccer stadium. If Canada can hold world cup matches in Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal, the EU could host matches in London, Paris and Madrid.
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Reply Fri 29 May, 2015 05:53 am

Heard last night on Question Tome, that the Qataris blocked Nepalese workers from travelling back home following the earthquake, when they didn't know how many of their families had survived.
Their passports are confiscated.

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Reply Fri 29 May, 2015 08:43 am
And along comes Vlad The Impaler to wag his finger
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out at the United States on Thursday, accusing it of meddling in global soccer amid an unprecedented corruption scandal.

In televised comments, Putin called the U.S. involvement in the FIFA investigation "strange" and said the country was overstepping its power amid growing concerns, especially that of Russia's, that the scandal could affect that country's hosting of the 2018 World Cup.

Well hey!...
Vlad makes Sepp look like a choirboy.
Reply Fri 29 May, 2015 09:14 am
We call it soccer too, can we have some criminals to investigate too ?

Give me an F...
No, thats not gonna work . Maybe a nice card...
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Reply Fri 29 May, 2015 09:50 am
Let's ask Putin where he put Kraft's SB Championship ring that he walked off with while he's wagging his pointy ring finger.
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Reply Fri 29 May, 2015 10:55 am
The criminal investigation into soccer is proving to be much more interesting than soccer itself.
Reply Fri 29 May, 2015 02:11 pm
Speak for yourself. As a Sotonian I've found the last season thrilling, culminating in Sadio Mane's fastest hat trick in premiership history. It's the FA Cup tomorrow, if the Gunners win Saints are in the Europa League.
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Reply Fri 29 May, 2015 02:40 pm
I enjoyed the Premier League season this year. Probably because I could record most of the games on my VCR.
Arguello Kane and Costa are amazing players.
I just wish the officials would get some help from replay cameras and the players would stop diving so much.
In the NHL they go to the penalty box for that crap.
Reply Fri 29 May, 2015 04:39 pm
American helped build case against FIFA officials

While rumors of bribes and backroom deals spanning the globe have plagued world soccer’s governing body for years, the financial crimes that finally got a law enforcement agency focused on FIFA happened not in faraway locales, but in Miami and New York, starring a former suburban soccer dad with tax trouble.

Chuck Blazer, one of the most important figures in the history of American soccer, pleaded guilty to crimes including racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion in November 2013. But his pleading remained sealed until Wednesday morning, when it was released along with more than 200 pages of other documents associated with this case.

Blazer cooperated with the federal investigation and agreed to wear a wire, according to a law enforcement source, helping the government build its case against other FIFA officials and executives with sports marketing companies in the United States and Brazil. Blazer and others were involved in schemes to collect bribes for media rights connected not to the World Cup, documents show, but to lesser soccer tournaments in the Americas.


According to the government’s complaint, Blazer abused his position at CONCACAF to earn millions in bribes from sports marketing companies seeking media rights to the Gold Cup, a tournament he helped create. From his office in Trump Tower in Manhattan, Blazer arranged wire transfers of six-figure bribes into offshore bank accounts for shell companies he controlled. One of the companies paying, documents state, was Miami-based Traffic Sports USA, whose president, Aaron Davidson, was among the indicted Wednesday.
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Reply Fri 29 May, 2015 05:44 pm
You can get a red card for diving, but not if the ref doesn't see it. Football has always lagged behind other sports in terms of technology, goal line technology has only just been introduced. Replays for refs aren't even topics for discussion yet.
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Reply Sat 30 May, 2015 03:13 am
Blatter was re-elected president as predicted, but he was not unchallenged and he did not win outright in the first ballot which is a first. What happens at Uefa's meeting at the Champions League final in Berlin on 6 June will be really important.

Sepp Blatter will have suffered "a shock" despite winning a fifth term as Fifa president on Friday, says Football Association chairman Greg Dyke.

Swiss Blatter was re-elected two days after seven Fifa officials were arrested by the US Justice Department.

"He is not the man to oversee change. It needs a change of leadership and root and branch change.

"It's not going to happen now because Sepp Blatter has got re-elected, therefore we have to look at what else we do.

"[But] I'd be surprised if Mr Blatter was still in this job in two years' time."

His Football Association of Ireland counterpart, John Delaney, also agreed that the Swiss would not complete another term.

He said: "I still think this is the beginning of the end of Sepp Blatter.

"I don't see him seeing his four years out - the momentum is too great. We now have to see how best we can use the European muscle."

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan supported Dyke's sentiments.

"We are disappointed but unsurprised by today's election result and will consult with Uefa to consider our collective position in order to achieve the essential changes required within Fifa," he said.

Michel Platini, the president of European football's governing body Uefa, had also previously criticised Blatter. Uefa officials are poised to meet at the Champions League final in Berlin on 6 June to discuss future plans.
"I am proud that Uefa has defended and supported a movement for change at Fifa," Frenchman Platini said.

"Change in my opinion is crucial if this organisation is to regain its credibility.

"I congratulate my friend Prince Ali for his admirable campaign and I take the opportunity to thank all the national associations who supported him."
Luis Figo, who withdrew his candidacy for the Fifa presidency last week to avoid splitting the vote in Blatter's favour, was scathing in his criticism of the Swiss.

"This vote has only served to endorse the election of a man who can't remain in charge of world football," said the Portuguese former Real Madrid and Barcelona player.

"Mr Blatter being re-elected - that shows exactly how the organisation is sick.

"Today was another dark day in Zurich. Fifa has lost, but above everything, football has lost and everyone who truly cares about it has lost too.

"Mr Blatter had a very cynical reaction when he said that he couldn't control everyone. It offends everyone's intelligence.

"If he was minimally concerned about football, he would have given up on re-election. If he has a modicum of decency, he will resign in the next few days."
More disappointment over Blatter win
Dutch Football Association president Michael van Praag, who also pulled out of the Fifa presidential race: "We might have lost the battle, but this process is far from over. I will continue to fight for a better Fifa."

United States football chief Sunil Gulati: "While we are disappointed in the result of the election, we will continue to push for meaningful change within Fifa.

"Our goal is for governance of Fifa that is responsible, accountable, transparent and focused solely on the best interests of the game.

"This is what Fifa needs and deserves, and what the people who love our game around the world demand."

He had won almost two thirds of votes before rival Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan withdrew from the race.

Dyke said: "This is not over. A third of delegates say they've had enough of your failure to deal with corruption."

Blatter has been president of Fifa since 1998, and Dyke said it had been a long time since Blatter's leadership had been seriously threatened.

"This has not happened to him for 16 years and for all of those 16 years there have been levels of corruption," Dyke claimed.

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Reply Sat 30 May, 2015 11:49 am
This is very good news if Europe and South America work together the pressure on Fifa will be unbearable, and if they both decide to boycott the World Cup, or set up a rival competition, Fifa will be meaningless, just a bunch of also rans.

Brazil's federal police has begun investigations into possible Fifa corruption in the country.

Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo said they were looking at possible tax evasion and money laundering within Brazil.

Costa Rica has opened an enquiry into US accusations against Eduardo Li, head of Costa Rica's football association.

In Argentina, a judge has issued warrants for three local businessmen wanted by the US.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff said football in her country "will only benefit" from the US corruption investigation of Fifa and other top officials of the sport.

In the meantime, the Brazilian Football Confederation has removed the name of Jose Maria Marin from the facade of its Rio de Janeiro headquarters after the former president was arrested in Switzerland on corruption charges.

A Congressional enquiry into corruption in the CBF may also be on the agenda.

On Wednesday, the Brazilian senator and former football player Romario made a formal application for an enquiry to be opened.

Mr Marin, who faces extradition to the US, was head of the CBF from 2012 to April 2015 and headed the local committee for the organisation of the 2014 World Cup.

Up to his arrest, he was part of a Fifa committee organizing the Olympic football tournaments.

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Reply Sun 31 May, 2015 04:00 am
The FBI's actions are welcomed around the world with the exception of corrupt officials and despotic leaders.

A bold, surprise move by the US on the world stage hasn't always been a recipe for global applause.

By indicting 14 top Fifa officials on corruption charges on Wednesday, however, the US government currently finds itself on the right side of much of the international media.

"The parasites in Fifa who skimmed off millions - and the influence peddlers who tempted them - should be shown no mercy," write the editors of the Times of South Africa. "The Americans will have done the world a huge favour if their actions finally force Fifa to clean up its act."

The headline of a piece by Emmet Malone in the Irish Times proclaims: "US does football a service as Fifa's house of cards begins to collapse".

Malone goes on to praise the "dogged" efforts of US tax authorities.

Fifa is a "global behemoth", writes Politico Europe's Tunku Varadarajan, but the US is an even more powerful adversary. "FIFA has met its match … in the United States of America."
Football commentator Simon Hill of Fox Sports Australia is even more direct.

"God Bless America," he writes "It's perhaps the ultimate irony that one of the last countries on earth to fully embrace football is the one that has had the gumption to take a stand, and try and rid the game of what the US Department of Justice calls 'systemic' corruption."

It's a recurring theme - that the efforts to reform football's governing body have found an unlikely hero in a nation that is usually more interested in the on- and off-the-field machinations of a different, more heavily padded kind of football.

According to Tufts University professor Daniel W Drezner, the Fifa story is providing a break in the clouds during what can otherwise be considered a dismal time for the US and its position on the world stage.

"We live in an age when foreign affairs pundits like to bemoan the crumbling of existing order and ponder whether the United States' best days are in the past, when rising powers seem more comfortable throwing their weight around than the US government," he writes in the Washington Post. "These are days when American scandals and dysfunction and economic stagnation seem to wrong-foot US foreign policy aspirations at every opportunity."

He says this is one of those days, however, "when the United States is the greatest country in the world, because it makes stuff like this happen".

Not everyone has such a rosy view of the US actions, of course. Russian President Vladimir Putin made news on Thursday when he questioned US motivations behind the investigation, comparing it to the cases of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

Others are less conspiratorial, but still see indications that the US is overstepping its jurisdictional bounds in the Fifa case. Bloomberg View's Noah Feldman says the arrests in Switzerland echo previous US "extraordinary renditions" and "secret terrorism arrests", which have often been condemned by other nations.
He highlights the use of a US law aimed at breaking organised criminal enterprises and wonders if the global community will embrace the action, given its "reputation for extraterritorial imperialism".

"Through creative and aggressive use of a highly unusual American law, the US may well be seen as attempting a takeover of international soccer," he writes.

And if it's not seen that way, writes the Federalist's Jim Pagels, that may just be rank hypocrisy on the part of those currently showering the US with praise.

"Many of the same people who criticised the United States playing world police in Iraq are now cheerleading this news about the Department of Justice playing just that role in regard to Fifa," he says.

The final verdict on the US actions will have to wait for the coming days, weeks and months - hinging on successful prosecutions and whether Fifa undertakes what its critics consider meaningful reform.

For the moment, however, the story isn't a US government that's doing too much of this or too little of that in one region of the world or another. It's not drone strikes or sabre rattling; appeasement or belligerence.

The story is that the gears of the US justice system, and the rule of law, are grinding into action. And for many, it seems, that's nothing but good news.

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Reply Sun 31 May, 2015 04:02 am
Finally the British banking systems starts to do something, admittedly only after being kicked up the arse by the FBI. V. short report as breaking news but the link should be updated later today.

UK banks Barclays and Standard Chartered have begun internal reviews into whether they were used for corrupt payments by Fifa officials, BBC understands

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Reply Sun 31 May, 2015 05:05 am
Comments made earlier by members of the international press indicate that they really know nothing about law enforcement in the United States and its history. Unable to link Al Capone directly to specific violent crimes or to the illegal alcohol trade, he was taken down for income tax evasion (and a contempt of court conviction). He died in prison of tertiary syphilis and physical effects of cocaine withdrawal. Lucky Luciano was prosecuted for pandering and was deported. The careful use of existing statutes can be a very effective tool in fighting crime and corruption.

I don't know if this is being used, but in 1970, Congress passed the RICO act, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which allows prosecution of individuals and groups without showing direct participation in specific criminal acts, but rather a pattern of association with criminal and/or corrupt activities. I suspect that many more nations than just the United States have such tools available to them to go after FIFA officials, if they will but use them.
Reply Sun 31 May, 2015 05:37 am
So....why didnt a country in Europe do something before this, why was it up to the FBI and the USA ? Everyone in the world who had heard the word soccer knew it was corrupt .
Reply Sun 31 May, 2015 06:49 am
Ionus wrote:

So....why didnt a country in Europe do something before this, why was it up to the FBI and the USA ? Everyone in the world who had heard the word soccer knew it was corrupt .

And word is that the gross corruption goes back 20 years. My theory is that Qatar was the breaking point....that after awarding the World Cup to a place that makes no sense governments could no longer ignore the corruptionx and that the USA was nominated to take down FIFA because our fucked up justice system can be bent to almost any purpose.
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Reply Sun 31 May, 2015 07:52 am
It took a major player like the US to kick everyone else up the arse. Our newspapers have been writing stories about Fifa corruption for years only to have Blatter dismiss them as British racism. Blatter recycled the sour grapes argument used when England lost 2018 to Russia by saying the US is only acting because it losr 2022 to Qatar.

As I mentioned earlier it is to Europe's shame that nobody, other than journalists, did anything about this before, especially the Swiss where Fifa has its headquarters. The promising thing is it's galvanised everyone to start taking action, the investigation seems to be spreading exponentially.
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Reply Sun 31 May, 2015 08:00 am
Greg Dyke on how Blatter built up his support.

Dyke, meanwhile, believes the whole presidential election voting system needs to be reformed.

All 209 Fifa member countries have an equal say in the vote, regardless of size or football pedigree.

"It is a very strange system," added Dyke.

"A democracy where everyone gets one vote looks completely fair but then you say hang on a minute, Turks & Caicos Islands get the same vote as England, Germany or America, that doesn't make any sense at all. At some stage, that might have to be changed.

"What Mr Blatter has done is gone around the world encouraging any small country he can find to join Fifa and that is a vote for him.

"The money is spread fairly evenly and for a lot of smaller countries that means almost their total income comes from Fifa, and they thank Mr Blatter for that."


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