Category Archives: FIFA

(JN) Na bola com mulheres bonitas – Nuno Melo

(JN) “Falamos de forma individual com todas as operadoras para que deixem de focar nas raparigas que podem ser consideradas atraentes. É trazer uma carga sexista desnecessária ao futebol”. O pedido mais idiota do fenómeno desportivo universal foi feito assim, pelo dirigente da FIFA Federico Addiechi. Se há certeza dos nossos tempos é que a imaginação delirante do “politicamente correto” consegue ser estupidamente infinita, mesmo na crença estranha de um mundo virtualmente assético e assexuado.

E se o jogo for de futebol feminino? E se se der o caso de as jogadoras, a começar, serem realmente bonitas? Não sendo olhar pecado – por este caminho, já não é certeza -, será que o italiano responsável pelo programa de diversidade da FIFA reparou alguma vez na sueca Josefine Oqvist, na brasileira Laisa Andrioli, na australiana Ellyse Perry, na americana Hope Solo ou na francesa Corine Franco, só para ter em conta alguns, poucos, exemplos ? Fazer o quê? Filmar poucochinho em campo, para que não se notem? E depois o quê? Não focar entre os adeptos os feios, os negros, os brancos, os amarelos, os coxos? É que onde acaba o sexismo também pode haver quem ache que começa a discriminação.

Dito isto, lá em Zurique, na sede da FIFA, não terão mesmo nada melhor com que se entreter? É que assim de repente, antes do pecado da beleza, expurgada das bancadas para uma espécie de “buraco negro” das teleobjetivas, há certamente outros assuntos que beneficiariam muito do zelo crítico e censório da FIFA. A tendência para uma certa prodigalidade nos gastos, os representantes corrompidos por causa das escolhas para a realização de campeonatos, os processos judiciais e detenções por fraude, extorsão e lavagem de dinheiro, o pagamento de 71 milhões de euros durante cinco anos a Joseph Blatter, Jerôme Valcke e Markus Kattner, até as campanhas descaradas de Michel Platini – inabilitado depois de receber de Blatter dois milhões de francos suíços – contra Cristiano Ronaldo, escolhido várias vezes com toda a justiça melhor jogador do Mundo, a contragosto do francês. Grande Cristiano…

Já agora, conviria que a FIFA se recordasse que durante muito tempo a atenção prestada às mulheres ajudou precisamente a mostrar que o futebol não é um desporto de homens apenas. Num estádio de futebol cabem todos. E na verdade, nas alegrias do fenómeno desportivo, todas as pessoas são bonitas. Deixem-nas lá em paz.

EURODEPUTADO

+++ P.O. (BBG) FIFA’s New Competition Will Destroy World Soccer: Alex Webb

P.O.

…In my opinion, and i agree with the Author, there is already too much discrimination between the rich and the poor Soccer Clubs.

…With this new proposed competition it will be the end of World Soccer as we know it.

…Between corruption and these idiotic measures one doesn’t know what is Fifa’s rationale anymore…

…Unless it is to perpetuate the “cosy club” in power there.

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(BBG) Another big pot for champions will worsen the divide between rich and poor clubs.

FIFA seems to be on the cusp of creating an oligopoly which could destroy club soccer around the world.

Two years after assuming the chairmanship of the sport’s global governing body, Gianni Infantino is seeking to create a new competition which will see the world’s top clubs compete for a $1.9 billion prize pot.

It risks exacerbating the wealth gap between the world’s biggest and smallest clubs to such an extent that the trend of recent years, where just a handful of clubs have any realistic chance of winning a title, is sure to get even more acute.

It’s unclear how entirely the league will be structured, but the Financial Times has reported that it will consist of 24 club teams competing in a tournament once every four years, which will be held in one region or country. It is likely that the top-performing teams from the continental tournaments (the respective Champions Leagues in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa) will then get a chance to compete for the global trophy.

The plan doesn’t have a straight shot to fruition. The Spanish are dead set against it, and controversy has prompted FIFA to delay the approval vote.

But were it to be realized, it would give the richest clubs a chance to become yet richer, giving them more financial clout to secure the world’s best players and qualify for the top prizes, and so on. England’s Premier League is instructive. English clubs competing in the Champions League, Europe’s top club competition, generated sales averaging 398 million pounds in the 2015-2016 season, according to consultancy Deloitte. The average Premier League club that didn’t participate in a European competition posted revenue of just 110 million pounds.

The ramification of that financial dominance is reflected in who has won England’s Premier League title. There are 20 clubs in the league at any one time, but just six teams have won it since its inception in 1992. With the exception of a single win each by Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City, the only winners have been Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Under Infantino’s new plan, the 24 teams from around the world that would compete would all receive some extra revenue, while the teams that get stuck in domestic leagues would receive no money. The 24 would also benefit from greater global exposure, letting them secure additional sponsorship and retail income.

It could be yet worse for non-European leagues. Competitions outside the region, including the continental ones, are significantly less lucrative. The handful of teams who qualify for Infantino’s championship would therefore benefit significantly from the vastly expanded income, which should translate into substantial dominance at home.

The logic from the FIFA side is clear. The organization secures a major payday once every four years from the World Cup, and so the timing of this new tournament could even out those peaks and troughs.

But at what cost? Not only could it create a further imbalance in the club game, the current plan will also see private companies take a 49 percent stake in the new venture, according to the FT. FIFA is, ostensibly at least, a nonprofit which aims to reinvest all surplus revenue back into the game. That’s all well and good if you agree with the premise of the tournament, but given its effect, the added factor of handing over so much power to private investors whose primary motive is profit rather than the good of the game is troubling.

When considered holistically, global soccer is a huge business. But individually, even the biggest clubs are really little more than SMEs: Manchester United’s 2017 revenue was 581 million pounds. FIFA has to ask itself: Is its primary motive to make a handful of clubs richer, or supporting the sport itself? This proposal achieves the former at the expense of the latter.

(BBG) FIFA July Top 100 World National Soccer Team Rankings (Table)

(Bloomberg) — Following is a table for the top 100 national men’s
soccer teams ranked by the Federation Internationale de Football
Association in Zurich. In July 2006, a new ranking procedure was introduced.
*T
===============================================================================
Country                    July   July  Change   June    May  April  March   Feb.
2016   2016      in   2016   2016   2016   2016   2016
Points   Rank    Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank
===============================================================================
Argentina                  1585      1       0      1      1      1      2      2
Belgium                    1401      2       0      2      2      2      1      1
Colombia                   1331      3       0      3      4      4      8      8
Germany                    1319      4       0      4      5      5      4      4
Chile                      1316      5       0      5      3      3      5      5
Portugal                   1266      6       2      8      8      8      7      7
France                     1189      7      10     17     21     21     24     24
Spain                      1165      8      -2      6      6      6      3      3
Brazil                     1156      9      -2      7      7      7      6      6
Italy                      1155     10       2     12     15     15     14     15
===============================================================================
Country                    July   July  Change   June    May  April  March   Feb.
2016   2016      in   2016   2016   2016   2016   2016
Points   Rank    Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank
===============================================================================
Wales                      1137     11      15     26     24     24     17     17
Uruguay                    1130     12      -3      9      9      9     11     11
England                    1107     13      -2     11     10     10      9      9
Mexico                     1044     14       2     16     16     16     22     22
Croatia                    1022     15      12     27     23     23     18     18
Poland                     1011     16      11     27     27     27     31     34
Ecuador                    1002     17      -4     13     12     12     13     13
Switzerland                 957     18      -3     15     14     14     12     12
Turkey                      915     19      -1     18     13     13     20     20
Hungary                     915     19       1     20     18     18     19     19
Austria                     875     21     -11     10     11     11     10     10
Iceland                     871     22      12     34     35     35     38     38
Slovakia                    867     23       1     24     32     32     26     25
Romania                     856     24      -2     22     19     19     16     16
USA                         855     25       6     31     29     29     30     32
Netherlands                 848     26     -12     14     17     17     15     14
===============================================================================
Country                    July   July  Change   June    May  April  March   Feb.
2016   2016      in   2016   2016   2016   2016   2016
Points   Rank    Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank
===============================================================================
Costa Rica                  840     27      -4     23     25     25     33     31
Northern Ireland            822     28      -3     25     26     26     28     29
Bosnia and Herzegovina      813     29      -9     20     20     20     21     21
Ukraine                     801     30     -11     19     22     22     27     27
Republic of Ireland         800     31       2     33     31     31     29     30
Algeria                     781     32       0     32     33     33     37     36
Czech Republic              768     33      -3     30     29     29     25     25
Peru                        765     34      14     48     46     46     42     43
Côte d’Ivoire               751     35       1     36     34     34     36     28
Ghana                       749     36       1     37     38     38     41     41
Albania                     739     37       5     42     45     45     35     36
Russia                      728     38      -9     29     27     27     23     23
Iran                        674     39       0     39     42     42     44     44
Sweden                      656     40      -5     35     36     36     34     35
Senegal                     651     41       0     41     43     43     48     45
Paraguay                    636     42       2     44     39     39     43     42
===============================================================================
Country                    July   July  Change   June    May  April  March   Feb.
2016   2016      in   2016   2016   2016   2016   2016
Points   Rank    Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank
===============================================================================
Egypt                       632     43       2     45     44     44     53     55
Denmark                     630     44      -6     38     41     41     40     40
Tunisia                     627     45       2     47     47     47     47     48
Venezuela                   621     46      31     77     74     74     75     81
Serbia                      612     47       7     54     56     55     50     51
Korea Republic              592     48       2     50     54     56     57     53
Norway                      588     49       2     51     49     49     51     50
Scotland                    584     50      -7     43     40     40     45     46
Panama                      580     51       5     56     52     52     55     60
Greece                      579     52     -12     40     37     37     39     39
Cameroon                    575     53       5     58     63     63     61     62
Morocco                     574     54       8     62     64     64     81     80
Jamaica                     573     55      -9     46     55     54     52     51
Uzbekistan                  569     56      10     66     66     66     74     71
Japan                       564     57      -4     53     57     57     56     58
Trinidad and Tobago         558     58       6     64     53     53     49     49
===============================================================================
Country                    July   July  Change   June    May  April  March   Feb.
2016   2016      in   2016   2016   2016   2016   2016
Points   Rank    Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank
===============================================================================
Congo DR                    555     59      -7     52     51     51     58     57
Australia                   555     59       0     59     50     50     67     68
Mali                        546     61       2     63     65     65     73     68
Cape Verde Islands          545     62     -13     49     47     47     31     33
Guinea                      544     63      -8     55     58     58     63     61
Slovenia                    542     64      -7     57     61     61     54     59
Saudi Arabia                540     65       0     65     60     60     60     55
Finland                     540     65       2     67     61     61     46     47
South Africa                530     67       1     68     70     70     70     73
Benin                       525     68       7     75     73     73     77     77
Uganda                      522     69       3     72     72     72     67     70
Congo                       514     70     -10     60     59     59     59     54
Nigeria                     514     70      -9     61     67     67     62     63
Belarus                     507     72       6     78     77     77     64     67
Burkina Faso                487     73       0     73     75     75     86     85
United Arab Emirates        484     74      -4     70     68     68     64     65
===============================================================================
Country                    July   July  Change   June    May  April  March   Feb.
2016   2016      in   2016   2016   2016   2016   2016
Points   Rank    Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank
===============================================================================
Guinea-Bissau               482     75      40    115    102    102    147    147
Israel                      471     76      -5     71     76     76     67     73
Bulgaria                    446     77      -8     69     69     69     70     75
Jordan                      438     78       2     80     82     82     82     82
Qatar                       425     79       5     84     83     83     80     78
St. Kitts and Nevis         423     80      12     92     92     92    121    118
China PR                    422     81       0     81     81     81     96     93
Honduras                    398     82       4     86     86     86     89     91
Antigua and Barbuda         393     83       0     83     85     85     90     90
Equatorial Guinea           389     84      -8     76     83     83     76     64
Cyprus                      387     85      -1     84     80     80     79     79
Central African Republic    386     86      10     96     96     96    110    112
Kenya                       386     86      43    129    116    115    103     99
Zambia                      385     88      -9     79     78     78     78     76
Botswana                    378     89      -2     87     91     91     92     92
Guatemala                   376     90       1     91     89     89     95     96
===============================================================================
Country                    July   July  Change   June    May  April  March   Feb.
2016   2016      in   2016   2016   2016   2016   2016
Points   Rank    Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank   Rank
===============================================================================
Sierra Leone                376     90      18    108    118    118    115    117
Liberia                     370     92      31    123    108    109    101    101
Libya                       366     93      29    122    112    112    107    105
New Zealand                 366     93      54    147    161    161    149    150
Montenegro                  365     95      -5     90     94     94     84     84
Mozambique                  362     96       1     97    101    101    100    102
Kazakhstan                  359     97      15    112    117    116    125    131
Gabon                       355     98     -10     88     88     88     83     83
Iraq                        354     99       3    102    104    105     91     89
Haiti                       350    100     -26     74     71     71     64     65
===============================================================================
*T
NOTE: For an explanation of the ranking procedure, visit:
http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/ranking/procedure/men.html

Source: Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)

(JN) TAS reduz suspensão de Platini para quatro anos. Francês demite-se da UEFA

(JNO Tribunal Arbitral do Desporto (TAS) reduziu para quatro anos a suspensão aplicada a Michel Platini, que vai demitir-se da presidência da UEFA, anunciaram os advogados do antigo jogador francês.

“Michel Platini anuncia que vai demitir-se da presidência da UEFA no próximo congresso do organismo”, refere o comunicado do grupo de advogados do francês.

Platini, que chegou a apresentar a candidatura à presidência da FIFA este ano, foi inicialmente condenado a oito anos de suspensão pela Comissão de Ética da FIFA, a 21 de Dezembro de 2015, mas a pena foi depois reduzida para seis anos pela Comissão de Recurso.

O líder da UEFA foi condenado por abuso de confiança, conflito de interesses e gestão danosa no caso do pagamento de 1,8 milhões de euros pelo ex-presidente da FIFA mundial, Joseph Blatter.

Por seu turno, o TAS reconheceu a “validade” do acordo verbal entre Blatter e Platini, mas “não está convencido da sua legitimidade”.

+++ (FT) Claudio Ranieri: The Tinkerman poised to win at last

(FT) Leicester City’s likeable manager is on the verge of a historic success, writes Simon Kuper.

© Joe Cummings

Many football managers look like enraged egomaniacs, but Claudio Ranieriresembles a benevolent Italian parish priest. White-haired, bespectacled and smiling, he is watching his Leicester City team counter-attack their way towards an astounding triumph. Leicester, which began the season as 5,000-1 outsiders, is on the brink of winning the English Premier League. On Sunday it drew 1-1 against Manchester United.

For the club from an unremarkable town in the Midlands, it would be the first title in 132 years, and for Mr Ranieri his first in 29 years as a manager. “He was the perfect loser, with a capital L,” says the Italian football writer Tommaso Pellizzari. “Everyone in Italy thought he was very nice, polite, kind, but please never call him to my team.” Has Mr Ranieri suddenly become a genius at 64?

He grew up in a flat above his father’s butcher shop in Rome. He supported AS Roma, and made his professional debut for them, but soon descended to smaller clubs. The gentlemanly full-back played 164 games in Italy’s top division without getting a yellow card. “He was a very intelligent player, a coach on the field,” recalls Gianni de Biasi, the Albania manager, a teammate at Palermo.

Mr Ranieri then became a respected manager in Italy and Spain, without ever achieving stunning success. In 2000 Chelsea brought him to England. His big smile, small ego, black Ferrari and fine Italian clothing won immediate admiration. Frank Lampard, then a Chelsea player, noted: “He had a keen sense of the football environment — how the way you dress and the car you drive are an inherent part of the impression you make at a club.”

Mr Ranieri then barely spoke English but revealed himself as a typical Italian manager of his generation: detail-oriented and defensive-minded. He told players to think like a boxer: “You defend, and at the right time you strike.”

But his coaching style didn’t suit a big club. Even after Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 and signed expensive stars, Mr Ranieri focused more on the opposition’s strengths. Mr Lampard recalls the manager describing before an Arsenal-Chelsea game “how they would destroy us over 90 minutes”. Mr Ranieri also unsettled players by constantly changing his line-up. “I’m the Tinkerman,” he admitted. The nickname stuck.

Mr Abramovich spent most of Mr Ranieri’s last season at Chelsea publicly looking for a new manager. The Tinkerman, in his own words, was “a dead man walking”. But throughout the humiliation, he maintained his dignity. He left Chelsea in 2004 admired as a man, if not as a manager. José Mourinho, his successor and later his nemesis, once taunted that when he asked Chelsea why they were replacing Mr Ranieri, “I was told they wanted to win”.

That jibe long seemed accurate. Mr Ranieri coached several big European clubs after Chelsea, but despite good phases never won a championship or lasted more than two seasons anywhere. He hit bottom in 2014, sacked as manager of the Greek national team after losing at home to the Faroe Islands.

When Leicester appointed Mr Ranieri last summer, The Guardian newspaper summed up the conventional wisdom: “If Leicester wanted someone nice, they’ve got him. If they wanted someone to keep them in the Premier League, they may have gone for the wrong guy.”

But Mr Ranieri had walked into a better situation than many realised. Media and fans fixate on the manager, yet what matters most is a club’s playing talent. Leicester had ended the previous season strongly, winning seven of their last nine matches, and the club’s scouts had unearthed the underrated Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kanté. Mr Ranieri saw the quality at his first training session, telling the Players’ Tribune website, “This player Kanté, he was running so hard that I thought he must have a pack full of batteries hidden in his shorts … I tell him, ‘One day, I’m going to see you cross the ball, and then finish the cross with a header yourself.’” The hard-running Mr Vardy was praised as “a fantastic horse”.

At Leicester, Mr Ranieri has had the humility to leave well alone. That may be a sign of age: he and his wife Rosanna, an antiques dealer, now live so quietly that a trip to a local lake counts as adventure.

He hasn’t bothered his team with complex new tactics, though he has made somecontributions. He gives his players at least two days off a week, and has been rewarded with the fewest injuries in the Premier League. He has instilled his favoured rapid counter-attacking game and has barely tinkered with the line-up.

Leicester have also been lucky. The richest English clubs have all stumbled this season, something that had not happened in the Premier League before, and probably will not happen again. Leicester’s triumph is likely to prove a one-off, and for that reason the story has enchanted football fans worldwide.

Mr Ranieri says there is no explanation for the team’s success. Certainly he takes no credit himself. Instead he feeds the popular belief that Leicester’s secret is team spirit. But of course Leicester’s team spirit is good: they are winning. In football, spirit tends to follow results, rather than cause them.

Now the nice guy should finally finish first. Mr De Biasi says, “I think for him this is a big dream. He has had a dream for a long time to win a very important challenge.” When he does, neutrals everywhere will cheer.hjjtiuumerfvb

(AP) FIFA ethics court bans Blatter, Platini for 8 years

(AP – click to see) Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were each banned for eight years by the FIFA ethics committee on Monday in a stunning removal of world soccer’s most powerful leaders.

FIFA President Blatter and his one-time protege Platini were kicked out of the sport for conflict of interest and disloyalty to FIFA in a $2 million payment deal that is also the subject of a criminal investigation in Switzerland.

In a defiant news conference shortly after the verdict was announced, Blatter said he would challenge his ban at the FIFA appeal committee and then the Court of Arbitration for Sport, insisting he had done nothing wrong.

“I will fight,” said Blatter. “I will fight until the end.’

His last words after a spirited 52-minute performance holding court with international media were “I’ll be back, thank you.”

Blatter’s trademark fighting talk was delivered while still sporting a strip of surgical tape on his right cheek after a minor medical procedure five days earlier.

Still, his FIFA career is ending in disgrace after more than 17 years as president and 40 years in total with the scandal-hit governing body.

Platini’s bid to succeed his former mentor in the Feb. 26 presidential election is now likely over. Platini, a FIFA vice president and head of European governing body UEFA, is also expected to appeal.

In a brief statement, UEFA said it was “extremely disappointed” with the ruling and supported its leader’s right to clear his name.

Blatter made it clear he regretted his current position but declared he was innocent of any wrongdoing.

“I regret, but I am not ashamed,” he said. “I am sorry that I am a punching ball. I am sorry for football… I am now suspended eight years, suspended eight years. Suspended eight years for what?”

FIFA’s ethics judges decided that Blatter and Platini broke ethics rules on conflicts of interest, breach of loyalty and offering or receiving gifts.

Platini took $2 million of FIFA money in 2011 approved by Blatter as uncontracted salary for work as a presidential adviser from 1999-2002.

In Monday’s verdict, Blatter was fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,250) and Platini 80,000 Swiss francs ($80,400).

“Neither in his written statement nor in his personal hearing was Mr. Blatter able to demonstrate another legal basis for this payment,” the judges said. “By failing to place FIFA’s interests first and abstain from doing anything which could be contrary to FIFA’s interests, Mr. Blatter violated his fiduciary duty to FIFA.

“His (Blatter’s) assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber.”

Blatter hit back at that conclusion during his news conference, portraying the ethics committee as saying of Platini and himself: “He’s a liar and I’m a liar.”

“This is not correct,” Blatter said.

Responding to a reporter’s question, he said in French: “I’m sad. It can’t go on this way. It’s not possible. After 40 years, it can’t happen this way. .. I’m fighting to restore my rights.”

Blatter acknowledged an administrative “error” in failing to book FIFA’s debt to Platini in its accounts for eight years, though insisted: “This is nothing to do with the ethics regulations.”

Platini, the judges said, “failed to act with complete credibility and integrity, showing unawareness of the importance of his duties and concomitant obligations and responsibilities.”

Blatter, who turns 80 in March, said he wants to preside over the FIFA congress on Feb. 26 where his successor will be elected.

The 60-year-old Platini wants to clear his name, pass a FIFA integrity check and be declared an official candidate in the election he had been favored to win.

Platini’s campaign has stalled since he was questioned on Sept. 25 in a Swiss federal investigation of suspected criminal mismanagement at FIFA.

Switzerland’s attorney general has opened criminal proceedings against Blatter for the suspected “disloyal payment” of FIFA money to Platini and selling undervalued World Cup TV rights for the Caribbean.

Platini’s status in the criminal case is “between a witness and an accused person,” attorney general Michael Lauber said in October.

In recent media interviews, both men said Platini asked Blatter for a salary of 1 million Swiss francs. He got a contract for 300,000 Swiss francs annually, in line with FIFA’s then-wage structure, plus a “gentleman’s agreement” to get the rest later. Swiss law obliged FIFA only to pay the deferred money within five years.

Platini was paid in February 2011, just before Blatter began campaigning for re-election against Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar. Platini’s UEFA urged its members weeks before the June 2011 election to back Blatter, who was elected unopposed when Bin Hammam was implicated in bribery.

Few FIFA officials knew of the Platini payment which emerged during a wider Swiss probe of the governing body’s business affairs, including suspected money laundering in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.

Blatter said Monday that a Swiss bank where Platini held an account had been required to report the seven-figure payment to comply with monitoring of money laundering.

Platini was an icon of French football, a former national team captain and coach, when the newly-elected Blatter offered him a job in 1998.

He had led the organization of a successful 1998 World Cup, won by host France, and on the eve of the tournament had campaigned to help Blatter win the FIFA presidency.

Blatter appeared to see Platini as a protege in FIFA politics who could add ideas and credibility to his presidential office.

Their friendship cooled after Platini was elected UEFA president in 2007. It became strained when Blatter reneged on a 2011 promise to step aside in four years’ time, which could have left Platini a clear run at the FIFA top job.

Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term in May, beating Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan two days after American and Swiss investigations of bribery and corruption were unleashed on FIFA. Platini had urged Blatter to resign immediately but was ignored.

Just four days later, Blatter announced his resignation plans — provoking the Feb. 26 election — under pressure from the corruption crisis.

(JN) Blatter e Platini multados e banidos pela FIFA por oito anos

…Só…?

(JN – click to see) Os dirigentes futebolísticos foram banidos por oito anos – com efeito imediato – pelo Comité de Ética da FIFA. Em causa está um pagamento não autorizado de 2 milhões de francos suíços pela FIFA a Platini. A decisão poderá inviabilizar ambições de Platini à liderança da FIFA.

O presidente da FIFA suspenso, Joseph Blatter, e o presidente da UEFA, Michel Platini, foram multados e banidos por oito anos pelo Comité de Ética da FIFA esta segunda-feira, informou o organismo que regula o futebol mundial em comunicado.

A decisão, que os arreda de todas as actividades relacionadas com o futebol, tem efeito imediato. Acresce à mesma as coimas aplicadas a ambos os dirigentes, tendo Blatter sido multado em 50.000 francos suíços (cerca de 46 mil euros) e Platini em 80.000 francos suíços (cerca de 74 mil euros).

Segundo o comunicado emitido pelo comité, as acções de Blatter “desrespeitaram todas as leis e regulamentos aplicáveis, assim como o enquadramento regulatório da FIFA” e reflectem um “abuso da sua posição enquanto presidente da FIFA”.

Com esta decisão, escreve a Bloomberg, caem por terra as aspirações de Platini de vir a liderar a FIFA.

Os dois responsáveis foram suspensos por 90 dias em Outubro no âmbito da investigação sobre um pagamento não autorizado de 2 milhões de francos suíços (cerca de 1,85 milhões de euros) pela FIFA a Platini em 2011.

Ambos negaram quaisquer más práticas, argumentando que Blatter estava a cumprir um contrato oral com Platini pelos serviços prestados por este à FIFA entre 1998 e 2002, escreve a Bloomberg, tendo o pagamento final sido feito em 2011

A 16 de Dezembro, Platini informou que não iria comparecer à audição no Comité de Ética da FIFA para esclarecer este caso.

+++ (BBG) New Arrests Show How Hard It Will Be to Clean Up Global Soccer

(BBG – click to see) In Zurich, FIFA officials convened to announce plans to clean up global soccer. Swiss police had other plans: They arrested some of these self-professed reformers in a dawn raid on Thursday at a luxury hotel in the Swiss financial center.

Just as they had done in May, Swiss police swept into the Baur au Lac hotel, where guests pay up to $4,000 a night for five-star quality and sumptuous views of Lake Zurich. Their targets: two FIFA vice-presidents.

FIFA has publicly committed to leaving behind the old, corrupt ways of secret cash payments and rigged contracts spelled out in an indictment of 14 people unsealed May 27. But new charges Thursday took aim at 16 more soccer officials, spelling out fresh examples of criminal conduct that took place even after the U.S. rocked the soccer world with its initial charges.

Alfredo Hawit of Honduras is the head of Concacaf, soccer’s governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean. He ascended to the post after his predecessor was indicted. After May 27, he told a co-conspirator “to create sham contracts” to hide bribes, and to lie to U.S. agents, according to the indictment in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. Hawit, 64, was arrested at the Baur au Lac.

With 12 guilty pleas entered in sealed courtrooms, the Justice Department has now charged 39 people and two sports marketing companies. Despite this tightening net, prosecutors charge, the corruption extended to friendly matches that the Salvadoran national team played on May 31 in Washington and June 5 in Chile.

Fabio Tordin, a Brazilian and former chief executive officer of Traffic Sports USA Inc. in Miami, agreed with a co-conspirator to pay a $5,000 bribe to a Salvadoran soccer official so that his team would play, according to the indictment. After the first indictment was unsealed, Tordin didn’t make the payment.

“In response, the Salvadoran official and others associated with him repeatedly pressured Tordin to make the payment, through telephone calls and letters and by traveling to the United States,” the indictment said.

In the indictment, prosecutors quoted defendants from conversations, suggesting they used recordings to build their cases.

Tordin met in Chicago on July 9 with two defendants, Brayan Jimenez and Hector Trujillo, according to the indictment. The men discussed how they had received bribe payments for the 2022 World Cup qualifying matches.

“Nothing should be said over the telephone,” Jimenez, the Guatemalan soccer federation president, said at the outset. “Nothing! Nothing! Nothing!”

Tordin met in Miami on Sept. 2 with Rafael Salquero, the former Guatemalan soccer president, according to the indictment. They discussed bribe payments, and Salquero said they should meet in person with a third defendant.

“The three of us are in the same s—,” Salquero said, according to the indictment.
Tordin, who is an executive with Media World LLC in Miami, pleaded guilty on Nov. 9, according to the U.S.

The arrests Thursday stole the spotlight from FIFA’s top executives, who were preparing to announce final proposals to reform the 111-year-old organization.

Days earlier, typically tight-lipped sponsors, including Coca-Cola Co., McDonald’s and Adidas AG, issued a second round of open letters calling for meaningful reforms and independent oversight.

FIFA’s proposed cleansing efforts include the introduction of term limits for top officials, a total overhaul of the management structure, the introduction of independent executives to oversee key financial decisions and compulsory integrity checks for members of all FIFA committees.

Another new defendant is Juan Angel Napout, head of South American soccer body Conmebol. He was arrested on Thursday. The night before, he was talking about plans to clean up world soccer.

In a Dec. 2 e-mail to Bloomberg News, Napout listed several of FIFA’s proposed measures and said Conmebol is “supporting all of it.” In an earlier exchange, he said he supported the U.S. investigation “from Day One.” Saying he’d had no contact with U.S. authorities, he added that the efforts to clean up the sport would “be amazing for Conmebol.”

Then he was woken from his bed, and walked into an unmarked car heading for a Swiss police cell. The indictment says Napout, who assumed Conmebol’s presidency in August last year, “sought to portray himself as an agent of reform, notwithstanding his own long-standing involvement in the solicitation and receipt of bribe and kickback payments.”

Instead, he was among South American soccer leaders who received an annual six-figure bribe from an Argentine sports marketer, it added. Napout awaits extradition to the U.S.

++ (OBS) Novas detenções no escândalo da FIFA

(OBS – click to see) O presidente da Concacaf, Alfredo Hawit, e o presidente da Conmebol, Ángel Napout, foram dois dos detidos desta quinta-feira num hotel em Zurique, acusados de aceitarem subornos de milhões.

AFP/Getty Images

A investigação conduzida pelas autoridades suíças e liderada pelos Estados Unidos iniciaram outra onda de detenções na Suíça na sequência do escândalo de corrupção que abalou a FIFA.

Agora, segundo informaram as mesmas autoridades suíças e comonoticiado no New York Times, foram detidos mais funcionários do órgão máximo que tutela o futebol mundial que vão ser ouvidos durante o dia desta quinta-feira para depois serem extraditados para os Estados Unidos.

Pelo menos uma das detenções foi realizada no hotel Baur au Lac em Zurique, o mesmo local onde um grupo de representantes da mesma instituição foi colocado sob custódia, no passado mês de maio, por suspeitas de corrupção.

O New York Times conta que as autoridades judiciais da Suíça confirmaram que os detidos são suspeitos de aceitarem subornos de milhões de dólares pela venda de direitos publicitários em torneios de futebol na América Latina, bem como em jogos de qualificação para Campeonatos do Mundo. Ou seja, os principais alvos desta nova fase da investigação foram atuais e antigos funcionários sob suspeitas que incluem extorsão, lavagem de dinheiro e fraude. Os representantes da América do Sul e Central podem ser os principais afetados com esta nova vaga de detenções.

detenções fifa

Citando fontes ligadas à investigação, o New York Times refere que entre os detidos estão Alfredo Hawit das Honduras e Ángel Napout do Paraguai. Hawit é o presidente da Concacaf, a confederação regional que engloba a América do Norte e Central e as Caraíbas. Napout, por sua vez, é o presidente da Conmebol, a confederação que tutela o futebol sul-americano. Os dois são vice-presidentes da FIFA e membros do comité executiva da instituição.

Segundo as mesmas fontes, muitos destes crimes podem ter sido orquestrados e preparados em solo americano, com pagamentos feitos através de bancos dos Estados Unidos. Ainda hoje podem ser divulgados, pela polícia, os nomes dos visados das detenções desta quinta-feira.

Entretanto, a FIFA já reagiu a estes novos desenvolvimentos. Num curto comunicado, a organização refere apenas que vai “continuar a cooperar plenamente com a investigação dos Estados Unidos” e que “não fará mais nenhum cometário adicional”.

Também o Ministério da Justiça da Suiça já confirmou, em comunicado, a operação: “Os dirigentes de alto nível da FIFA receberam alegadamente dinheiro em troca da venda de direitos de comercialização relacionados com torneios de futebol na América Latina, bem como dos jogos para as qualificações do Mundial”.

O ministério confirmou assim novas detenções, mas apenas fez referência a dois casos que tiveram por base “pedidos de detenção apresentados pelo Departamento de Justiça dos Estados Unidos a 29 de novembro de 2015”. Os dois “são suspeitos de terem recebido subornos”, disse o ministério.

“De acordo com os pedidos de detenção dos Estados Unidos, são suspeitos de terem aceitado subornos de milhões de dólares (…) Alguns dos crimes foram acordados e preparados nos Estados Unidos. Os pagamentos também foram processados através de bancos norte-americanos”, indica o comunicado.

A FIFA foi abalada por um escândalo de corrupção em maio, a dois dias da reeleição de Joseph Blatter como presidente do organismo máximo do futebol mundial, num processo aberto pela justiça dos Estados Unidos e que levou à acusação de 14 dirigentes e ex-dirigentes.

No início de junho, Blatter apresentou a demissão, abrindo o caminho para novas eleições, que foram marcadas para 26 de fevereiro de 2016.

A 25 de setembro, o Ministério Público suíço instaurou um processo criminal a Blatter, que foi interrogado na qualidade de arguido, por suspeita de gestão danosa, apropriação indevida de fundos e abuso de confiança.

A 08 de outubro, Blatter, o secretário-geral da FIFA, o francês Jérôme Valcke, e o presidente da UEFA, o também francês Michel Platini, foram suspensos provisoriamente por 90 dias pelo Comité de Ética da FIFA, por implicação no escândalo de corrupção que atingiu a instituição.

Na base das suspensões estão os inquéritos que decorrem no próprio órgão da FIFA, ainda que vários outros responsáveis do organismo mundial estejam também a ser investigados pelas autoridades suíças e norte-americanas.

(FT) Swiss make more arrests in Fifa corruption scandal

(FT) Swiss police have made two further arrests of top international football officials at the request of US authorities investigating scandal-hit Fifa, world football’s governing body.

The Fifa officials were suspected by the US of having accepted “bribes of millions of dollars”, the Swiss federal office of justice said. Their names would be announced later on Thursday.

“The high-ranking Fifa officials are alleged to have taken the money in return for selling marketing rights in connection with football tournaments in Latin America, as well as World Cup qualifying matches,” the Swiss authorities said in a statement.

The latest police action against Fifa followed the arrest of seven officials on May 27, which plunged Fifa into crisis and were followed by Sepp Blatter’s announcement that he would step down as Fifa’s president.

Mr Blatter has since been temporarily suspended from Fifa activities by its ethics committee — as has Michel Platini, president of Europe’s Uefa organisation, who had been seen as possible successor. Jérôme Valcke, Fifa’s general secretary, has also been suspended.Swiss-make-more-arrests-in-Fifa-corruption-scandal-FT

 

+ (BBG) World Soccer’s Financing Secrets Revealed in Document Leak

(BBG – click to see) Leaked documents from one of the biggest firms investing millions in soccer-player futures are providing a glimpse into a secretive — and now banned — financing practice for the global sport.

Invisible to even the most avid soccer fans, Doyen Sports Investments and other companies like it have become a critical source of financing for often cash-strapped soccer clubs. These investors pay teams for trading rights to select players, betting that the player’s trade value will rise. If that happens, Doyen realizes a profit when the player moves from one team to the next.

A spokesman for the company verified that the documents, released on Football_Leaks.com, were real, but declined to comment further.

Soccer’s Richest Trades

Accounts for the second half of 2011 reveal the company has been involved in some of soccer’s richest trades and turned a handsome profit. The company invested 25.6 million euros ($27.2 million) for trading rights for seven players, including some of the sport’s most expensive. Doyen spent 10 million euros for a 33.3 percent stake in Colombian striker Radamel Falcao’s trading rights. When he was traded two years later, the company netted a 4 million euro profit.

The documents also show that the firm paid 6 million euros in August 2012 to buy the global sponsorship rights of Barcelona and Brazil forward Neymar, one of soccer’s most celebrated players. It also loaned 6.9 million euros to two Spanish teams, Atletico Madrid and Sporting de Gijon.

FIFA, the governing body for world soccer, last year banned investors from buying stakes in future trading rights of players, the biggest part of Doyen’s business. The practice — called third-party ownership — started in South America and has spread to large parts of Europe, raising concerns about investors influence over the sport. Doyen has challenged the ban in court.

Ties to Malta

The documents also reveal the source of the company’s funding to be two entities that share an address with Doyen Sports in Ta’Xbiex, a little town in Malta.

One of the companies, Benington Group Assets Limited, has a single shareholder, Malik Ali, a Turkish citizen in his early 30s. Ali, who loaned more than 54 million euros to Doyen, according to one of the documents, also owns all of Doyen’s Class A shares. The remaining 20 percent of its stock is in Class B shares, owned by another Maltese entity called Wood, Gibbins & Partners Limited.

Doyen Sports is owned by Doyen Group Ltd., a London-based firm that invests in commodities, construction, the energy sector, and real estate. It also owns the five-star hotel chain, Rixos Hotels.

The leak comes at a sensitive time for Doyen. It’s awaiting the result of a lawsuit at the Court of Arbitration for Sport after Portugal’s Sporting Clube refused to pay the fund profits it was due over the trade of Argentine defender Marcos Rojo to Manchester United. Sporting claims the contract with Doyen is abusive.

The exact size of Doyen is unknown but Chief Executive Officer Nelio Lucas said in 2014that the company turns over considerable amounts cash, though it remains small compared with the parent company.

“The group is backed from private families,” he said. “It’s very clear we have so many investments in so many things. So many billions in turnover. So 100 million it’s a little drop in the ocean. Now 200 million, that’s two drops in the ocean.”

(FT) Fifa: The fall of the house of Blatter

(FT)The inside story on the moves being made by football’s governing body to survive amid US and Swiss corruption investigations.

©Reuters

The “Home of Fifa” is an oblong building on a hill above Zurich. Wrapped in strips of grey netting it appears impenetrable, and for decades it seemed as if that was the way football’s governing body liked it. Fifa has always been a secretive club, accountable only to itself.But in May its world fell apart. Criminal investigations into corruption in both Switzerland and the US triggered an internal battle — still being played out — over how the organisation is run.

The fight, in which Fifa president Sepp Blatter and his allies have been largely sidelined, has left control of the organisation in the hands of Fifa’s legal director and a US law firm hired to restore Fifa’s reputation and ensure its survival — even as fresh evidence of a cover-up of corruption at the top is unearthed.

Fifa is facing an existential threat. Its revenues have been hit by the scandal, as new partners shy away, and there will be cost-cutting ahead. But inside the organisation many of those hoping to replace Mr Blatter when Fifa elects a new president in February remain in denial about the need for change, according to people close to the organisation.

“It is not a forgone conclusion that the company [Fifa] will survive,” says a senior person close to the body. “It is up in the air.”

This account of the past few months inside the headquarters of world football is based on interviews with Fifa officials and others with first-hand knowledge of the last days of the Blatter reign. Most asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.

Early morning wake-up

Mr Blatter was having his morning coffee when he learnt that Swiss police, acting on a request from the US Department of Justice, had swooped on the Baur au Lac hotel and arrested seven senior Fifa officials. It was 6am on Wednesday, May 27, and Marco Villiger, Fifa’s legal director, called Thomas Werlen to ask for help.

For six years, Mr Werlen was the general counsel to Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceuticals group, as it battled accusations from the DoJ that it illegally marketed a number of drugs and paid doctors to prescribe them. It eventually paid $422.5m to resolve criminal and civil liability in 2010. Two years later Mr Werlen became a Zurich-based partner at Quinn Emanuel, the US law firm which had begun advising Fifa in 2014.

Mr Villiger, who has worked at Fifa for nine years, also contacted Bill Burck, a one-time special counsel to George W Bush in Washington who is now a Quinn Emanuel partner. Today Mr Burck, who is also a former assistant US attorney in New York, acts as one of the main conduits between Fifa and the DoJ.

After Swiss police swept through the hotel, investigators from the public prosecutor’s office arrived at Fifa headquarters to begin their own probe.

In the aftermath, there was confusion about how to respond to the crisis. Senior Fifa figures, outraged at the timing of the raids — just two days ahead of a presidential election — accused the US of overstepping its authority.

“There were many different responses within Fifa,” says one person who has spent considerable time inside the Zurich headquarters over the past few months. “At the worker level there was real shock and fear and confusion but also a sense of: ‘What can we do about it to make it better?’ At the political level, it was very different. There was a defiance and lack of appreciation for the severity of the situation,” he says.

Even now, a number of Fifa’s leaders still “think this will go away”, says a person familiar with Fifa’s 25-strong executive committee, the cabinet that makes all major decisions. “Most of the executive committee are in denial. Only a small group understands,” he says.

Nevertheless, the pressure was enough to force Mr Blatter into an about-turn. Just days after he had been re-elected for a fifth term as president despite calls for him to quit, Mr Blatter said he would stand down after a fresh election.

Several people say the U-turn was triggered by warnings that he could become a target of the US investigators if he stayed on. “That is not true at all,” Mr Blatter told the FT in a recent interview. “I took personal advice not legal advice, from people I trust.” Among those he met was Mr Villiger, who explained Fifa’s legal position. After that, Mr Blatter says, he chose to go “to protect Fifa”.

The US indictments could destroy Fifa. The DoJ — which opened its investigations at least four years ago — is prosecuting Fifa officials under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act, legislation drawn up to target mafia syndicates that had taken over otherwise lawful organisations. The DoJ is currently gathering more evidence and some of the arrested Fifa officials have agreed to co-operate with the inquiry. More arrests are expected in the next six months.

If the DoJ charges Fifa with racketeering, its sponsors and broadcast partners would immediately have to cut their links and world football’s governing body — which had revenues of $5.7bn in the four years before the 2014 World Cup — would disintegrate.

But there is wiggle-room built into the indictments. Fifa is also named as a “victim” of the alleged crimes, both in the US and Switzerland. In the US, courts have sent Fifa four “victim notices” so far — automatic notifications from the court to the injured parties in upcoming cases.

“You can either be an entity set up to commit crimes, or you can be an organisation which has been used by individuals to commit crimes,” says a person familiar with Fifa’s legal woes.

Victimhood

Since the break-up of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm, in the wake of the Enron scandal, US prosecutors have been reluctant to chase companies into the ground, in order not to destroy the livelihoods of innocent workers, even if the organisation’s leaders are at fault.

But the Brooklyn-based US prosecutors looking at Fifa are not white-collar crime specialists; they deal in organised crime. “They probably would have charged Fifa as a mafia enterprise and that would have ended it. But someone high up at the DoJ might have recognised that would cause a problem. The victim status is an interim solution,” he says.

The key to maintaining “victim status”, according to the person close to Fifa, is to act like a victim. “What does a victim do? Someone who is a victim wants to find out what happened and get justice. Someone who is not really a victim looks the other way.”

From the outside, Fifa did not look like a victim. Instead, its leaders were denying any significant wrongdoing.

Fifa’s communications department was in meltdown. Quinn Emanuel hired Teneo, a strategic communications firm that had advised BHP Billiton, Novartis and UBS on their battles with US prosecutors to work with it on the Fifa case. The brief was to make the governing body appear transparent, less political and more co-operative says one person close to the organisation.

But not everyone bought into the strategy. On July 20, Quinn Emanuel gave a presentation to the executive committee outlining how Fifa needed to present itself as a victim.

“There was understanding. There were some nodding heads,” says a person present. “Then Blatter’s reaction was: ‘We have nothing to worry about, we are victims.’” Two other people present said it was not their impression that Blatter was trying to belittle lawyers’ advice

The tension grew over the summer, with the Fifa leadership lining up against Quinn Emanuel — which has devoted a team of around 10 lawyers to the case — and the legal department.

To the frustration of many, Mr Blatter continued to publicly condemn the US investigation as politically motivated.

“Everyone told Blatter respectfully and repeatedly not to make public comments denigrating the investigation. He was asked to focus on football,” says one of his advisers.

Even Lorenz Erni, Mr Blatter’s Swiss lawyer, asked him to stop speaking. But others advised him to get his message out. One of his close circle says Swiss banks were advised to “shut up” when they were in dispute with the US but that did not achieve much for them in the end: “I thought he should tell his story.”

Pressure continued to mount. Jérôme Valcke, Fifa’s general secretary who was considering a bid for president, was suspended after being implicated in a World Cup ticket scandal. In August, Fifa’s sponsors arrived in Zurich for talks. “They said they were supportive of the plans, but why was no one controlling the president,” says one person present. “And they wanted to know how long the investigations would last.” They were told that Fifa’s problems with the DoJ would last for another year. Swiss officials believe their investigation will take five to six years.

In October, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, AB InBev and Visa called for Mr Blatter to immediately resign. He was forced out six days later, bringing to an end a 17-year reign, when Swiss prosecutors said they were investigating him over a Sfr2m ($2m) payment to Michel Platini, the head of European football.

“No one laid any bear traps, but when the situation arose, they made sure the right thing was done,” says a person close to Fifa. Mr Blatter’s friends blame Quinn Emanuel and Teneo. “They have Fifa under control. No decisions are taken without their OK,” says one. Mr Blatter puts it more bluntly: “Quinn Emanuel is in charge of Fifa,” he says.

His office, a 1,500 sq ft suite, has been cleared of his personal items, the pictures and souvenirs from around the world. Last Wednesday, his appeal against his suspension from all footballing activities was rejected. Since his departure, he has had a lengthy spell in hospital after suffering a “total failure of everything apart from his heart and brain”, says a spokesman.

Fresh investigations

In July, Quinn Emanuel created an off-site data room to conduct its own investigation into Fifa. After sifting through thousands of emails, several more examples of suspected corruption — and apparent efforts to cover them up — were unearthed and forwarded to the Swiss authorities, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.

“The evidence has opened new channels of investigation,” says one person close to Fifa. “A lot of it has been actively concealed. In the past four years there are no examples of open and notorious stuff but of senior people concealing their activities.”

But the DoJ has grown impatient with apparent foot dragging by Swiss authorities. “They want to see results,” says the person. The Swiss criminal code prevents foreign authorities operating within Switzerland without consent and the Fifa case has highlighted a transatlantic clash of legal cultures.

Folco Galli, a spokesman for the Swiss justice ministry, says there is a treaty with the US that allows for “legal assistance” but admits: “We have not yet provided the evidence that the US authorities are asking for. It will take time.”

Fifa’s administration, led by Markus Kattner, the acting secretary-general, is planning for a less rosy future. The executive committee met last month, when Mr Kattner gave a presentation on Fifa’s revenues and costs and how the crisis was affecting the organisation.

“The shortfall this year means costs need to be trimmed,” says a person at the briefing. “No one has been signing up sponsors.”

The most important reform, stripping the committee of its executive powers and giving operational control of Fifa to an appointed chief executive, is also winning support. “The reforms will go through even if [member] countries do not want them, otherwise they will be hit in the pocket. They need the reforms to get the revenues they want because otherwise the sponsors will leave,” he adds. Others close to Fifa are studying the creation of a “bad bank” structure, where Fifa’s historic operations are left behind to co-operate with the DoJ while the organisation forms a new arm to move into the future.

“You want the body in charge of world football to survive and carry on without living in a constant state of crisis,” says one person familiar with the talks.

What is clear is that Fifa’s low, grey, oblong headquarters will have to become more transparent to survive, whether its leaders want it to or not.Fifa_-The-fall-of-the-house-of-Blatter-FT

 

++ (BBG) FIFA Ethics Investigators Recommend Sanctions Against Blatter

(BBG – click to see) FIFA investigators probing allegations of corruption are recommending sanctions against world soccer boss Sepp Blatter and the sport’s European head, Michel Platini.

“The investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has submitted its final reports containing requests for sanctions against Joseph Blatter and Michel Platini,” it said in a statement Saturday.

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini
Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini
Photographer: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

An adjudicatory chamber within the Ethics Committee will review the reports and make a decision on possible sanctions, which could include a warning, fine or a ban from the sport, said Andreas Bantel, a spokesman for the investigatory chamber. He said the hope is to have a decision by Jan. 5, when their 90-day suspensions expire.

Blatter, who has overseen FIFA for nearly two decades, and UEFA president Platini were suspended in October from all soccer activities after Swiss prosecutors opened an investigation into a delayed 2 million-Swiss franc ($1.96 million) payment from Blatter to Platini. The move essentially ended Blatter’s 17-year presidency and delivered a blow to Platini’s chances in the Feb. 26 elections for FIFA president.

(BBG) FIFA’s Sepp Blatter Taken to Hospital After Suffering Breakdown

(BBG – click to see) Suspended FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter is recovering in the hospital after suffering a “small breakdown,” his spokesman said.

Blatter, will probably remain in the hospital until Tuesday, Klaus Stoehlker said by phone on Wednesday.

“He’s laughing and his whole charm is back,” Stoehlker said. “He’s a little bit weak so that’s why he will stay until he’s fully recovered.”

The Swiss attorney general in September opened a criminal investigation into allegations that Blatter, the head of global soccer’s governing body, was involved in an illicit payment to European soccer chief Michel Platini.

Blatter is confident of appealing the suspension, Stoehlker said. The 79-year-old has delivered “meters and meters” of documents to prove his innocence.

+ (BBG) Ex-Brazilian Soccer Official Pleads Not Guilty in FIFA Probe

(BBG – click to see) A former Brazilian soccer official pleaded not guilty in the U.S. to bribery charges as global corruption probes into the sport’s governing body widen to target banks in Europe.

Jose Maria Marin, one of seven people arrested in Switzerland, appeared in Brooklyn, New York, federal court Tuesday on charges that he took bribes from marketing executives seeking lucrative media rights to international soccer tournaments.

Marin is the fourth of 14 defendants charged in an indictment unsealed in May to appear in a U.S. court. Extradition efforts remain pending in Switzerland, Argentina, Paraguay and Trinidad for the others.

The 83-year-old sports administrator, attired in a teal sweater, blue shirt and dark pants, seemed not to be feeling well at one point, as he was ushered to a chair and given a glass of water. His lawyers and prosecutors stood around him as the judge wondered if he were in any discomfort. The hearing resumed, with Marin seated in his chair while everyone else stood.

Marin stood later to embrace his wife when she approached him.

U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie allowed Marin to remain out of jail and under house arrest in his Trump Tower apartment. The judge set bail at $15 million, which is to be secured by $1 million in cash, the $3.5 million value of the property and a $2 million surety bond. Marin is scheduled to appear in court again Dec. 16.

Marin listened to the proceedings through a translator and nodded when the judge addressed him, saying little otherwise. His attorney, Charles Stillman, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

“We will be preparing to deal with the charges,” Stillman said in an e-mailed statement after the hearing.

Corruption probes of the organizers of the sport now also include banks and national sport associations involved in transactions linked to FIFA. UBS Group AG said Tuesday it received inquiries from Swiss authorities about its banking relationship with FIFA officials, days after Credit Suisse Group AG disclosed it was also questioned.

In Germany, prosecutors and police raided the country’s soccer association in a probe into a 6.7 million-euro payment ($7.4 million) to FIFA linked to the country’s application to host the 2006 World Cup.

The case is U.S. v. Webb, 1:15-cr-00252, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

++ (OBS) Portugal mantém quarto lugar no ‘ranking’ FIFA. Bélgica é a nova líder

(Observador) A seleção portuguesa de futebol manteve-se hoje em quarto lugar do ‘ranking’ mundial da FIFA, agora liderado pela Bélgica, que ‘destronou’ a Argentina, terceira, atrás da Alemanha

A seleção portuguesa de futebol manteve-se hoje em quarto lugar do ‘ranking’ mundial da FIFA, agora liderado pela Bélgica, que ‘destronou’ a Argentina, terceira, atrás da Alemanha.

A atualização da lista alterou o pódio, manteve Portugal em segundo e colocou o Chile na perseguição direta à “seleção das quinas”, depois de a equipa sul-americana ter “saltado” quatro lugares.

A Áustria subiu um degrau e encerra agora o ‘top-10’ mundial, enquanto o País de Gales saiu do ‘grupo de elite’ e caiu para o 15.º posto.

Entre os outros países lusófonos, Cabo Verde continua a ser o melhor, subindo mais nove lugares, para 32.º. Angola desceu uma posição, para 98.º, Moçambique 18 lugares, para 125.º, enquanto a Guiné-Bissau subiu seis posições, para 141.º.

São Tomé e Príncipe protagonizou a maior “escalada” entre os lusófonos, ascendendo 36 lugares, para 157.º, enquanto Timor-Leste também subiu, mas para a posição 162.

O Irão, treinado por Carlos Queiroz, ocupa o 43.º lugar e o Gabão, orientado por Jorge Costa, é 73.º.observador-2

+ (BBG) UBS Says It Has Received FIFA-Related Inquiries From Authorities

(BBG – click to see) UBS Group AG said it has received inquiries from authorities about its banking relationships with FIFA officials, days after rival Credit Suisse Group AG disclosed it was being questioned in the corruption probe that has engulfed soccer’s global governing body.

The inquiries are about FIFA and “other constituent soccer associations,” Zurich-based UBS said in its third-quarter financial report, declining to name those bodies.

The arrest in May of seven soccer officials in Zurich on the eve of FIFA’s congress and the indictment of seven others on charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering has led to a widening series of investigations in Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S. The scandal spread in September with the Swiss Attorney General opening criminal proceedings into FIFA President Sepp Blatter over a 2 million-franc ($2 million) payment he made to European soccer chief Michel Platini. Both men have said they did nothing illegal but have been suspended by FIFA for 90 days.

Several banks, including Zurich-based Julius Baer Group Ltd., started internal investigations after the U.S. Justice Department named them in the May indictment. In the U.K., Standard Chartered Plc, has said it’s looking into two payments it cleared that were mentioned in the FIFA indictment. HSBC Holdings Plc and Barclays Plc, both based in London, are also studying transactions to ensure proper procedures were followed, the Sunday Times reported in May.

Credit Suisse said on Oct. 30 that it’s cooperating with U.S. and Swiss investigations into whether financial institutions allowed the processing of suspicious transactions, or failed to observe anti-money laundering laws in their dealings with FIFA.

+ (JN) Credit Suisse investigado nos Estados Unidos e na Suíça devido a escândalo na FIFA

(JN – click to see) As autoridades norte-americanas e suíças estão a investigar o banco Credit Suisse por causa das relações do banco com os dirigentes da FIFA envolvidos nas acusações feitas em Maio.

Os Estados Unidos da América e a Suíça estão a investigar se as entidades bancárias, incluindo o Credit Suisse, permitiram transacções suspeitas e indevidas ou ignoraram as leis contra o branqueamento de capitais nas relações com a federação internacional de futebol, escreve esta sexta-feira, 30 de Outubro, a Bloomberg.

O banco referiu, no relatório dos resultados trimestrais, que “o Credit Suisse está a cooperar com as autoridades neste caso”.

As autoridades estão a investigar várias instituições financeiras, mas o Credit Suisse foi o primeiro banco a confirmar a investigação. Ainda assim, outros bancos, como o Julius Baer Group deram início a investigações internas depois de terem sido referidas pelo departamento de justiça norte-americano no caso da FIFA.

O procurador-geral suíço Michael Lauber disse, em Junho, que havia 53 movimentações bancárias suspeitas de infringirem as leis contra o branqueamento de capitais.

Recorde-se que, a 27 de Maio, a polícia suíça deteve nove executivos da FIFA e outros cinco dirigentes desportivos por chantagem, fraude e branqueamento de capitais a pedido das autoridades norte-americanas.

++ (FT) Lunch with the FT: Sepp Blatter

(FT) His reputation may be spoiled but his legacy remains intact, the suspended president of Fifa insists over ‘Mama Blatter’s salad’ in Zurich.

Illustration by James Ferguson of Sepp Blatter©James Ferguson

Sepp Blatter likes to start the day just before 6am. He skips breakfast but drinks a cup of coffee and does a little dance to stay in shape. “Rhythm, rhythm of life is very important. Also in football, but everywhere,” he says.

But on May 27, 15 minutes after he woke up, his morning routine was broken by a phone call. Swiss police, acting on extradition requests from the US Department of Justice, launched a raid on Zurich’s Baur-au-Lac hotel and arrested seven senior Fifa officials on suspicion of taking more than $100m of bribes between them.

The arrests, which were followed by another raid on Fifa’s headquarters on a hill above Zurich, came as hundreds of football officials were gathering in Switzerland for an election to choose a new Fifa president. “I felt like a boxer who was just going into round 12 and said, ‘I’m going to win.’ But then: BONG!” says Blatter, 79, mimicking a knockout blow.

The effect was seismic: although the vote went ahead two days later, and Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term, he stepped down the week after, claiming he needed to “protect Fifa”. It was not enough. Swiss prosecutors put Blatter under investigation and, on October 8, he was suspended from all football activities and evicted from his office at Fifa. While you can physically remove Blatter from Fifa’s headquarters, separating the man from the organisation he has built in his image for the past 40 years — first masterminding football programmes in Africa, then becoming general secretary and finally president — is a tricky proposition.

We meet at Sonnenberg restaurant, which in its literature describes itself as the “Fifa Club”, run “under the patronage of Joseph S Blatter” and as a place “where football fans from the worlds of Swiss business, politics and sports meet with their guests for business lunches, exquisite dinners and networking”. I arrive early but Blatter is already waiting, chatting to the restaurant’s head chef, whose white jacket is embroidered with Fifa’s blue logo. We are ushered into a private room with magnificent views over vineyards, then over the city and all the way down to Lake Zurich.

The door shuts behind us and there is an awkward silence. The man who has served for years as a lightning rod for so many shocking accusations of corruption and backroom-dealing suddenly seems frail as he fidgets with his cutlery and rubs his hands together. It turns out that he has a great deal to get off his chest, and several grenades to toss into the fragile process to find his successor, but it is difficult to know where to begin.

We clink glasses of a Swiss sauvignon blanc and I ask him how he feels now that the end is in sight. In February, he will permanently leave Fifa after a fresh presidential election. Others have told me that it will be an existential crisis for Blatter and hinted darkly that he may not be able to bear it. He freely admits that he is a monomaniac who cannot, and will not, stop thinking about Fifa.

He lives alone in an apartment in Zurich and works from a “very small” office with a desk, a computer, a football and a picture of the Matterhorn on the wall. “I regret I cannot go back to my office [at Fifa HQ], because my office [there] was a little bit more than an office; it was the ‘salon’ we were living in,” he says in accented and slightly topsy-turvy English (he is most comfortable in German or French but also speaks Italian and Spanish).

Blatter still wakes early, however, and scans the news for any developments about Fifa. “I answer my personal mail; there is a lot of mail. I am following very carefully what is happening in the office of Fifa and around this office. For the time being, I have not had any possibility to say, ‘Now I go a few days on holiday’,” he says. “I am following everything. I cannot just say I switch off because I am not any longer in the office. Because my office is my memory,” he says, tapping a finger to his forehead.

. . .

A waiter enters with a treat from the head chef: plates of salmon, cucumber and caviar. But Blatter is allergic to seafood, he says, shooing the dish away. “They know this. I do not know why they serve it.” He orders cured beef instead, which he eats with his hands, together with some bread.

An edited and condensed transcript of Sepp Blatter’s Lunch with the FT interview at Sonnenberg restaurant in Zurich.

As we settle into our conversation, he quickly pinpoints the moment when Fifa’s troubles — and his downward spiral — began. “It is linked to this now famous date: December 2, 2010,” he says, referring the day he pulled Qatar’s name out of the envelope as host of the 2022 World Cup.

“If you see my face when I opened it, I was not the happiest man to say it is Qatar. Definitely not.” The decision caused outrage, even among those who do not follow football. “We were in a situation where nobody understood why the World Cup goes to one of the smallest countries in the world,” he says.

Blatter then drops a bombshell: he did try to rig the vote but for the US, not for Qatar. There had been a “gentleman’s agreement”, he tells me, among Fifa’s leaders that the 2018 and 2022 competitions would go to the “two superpowers” Russia and the US; “It was behind the scenes. It was diplomatically arranged to go there.”

Had his electoral engineering succeeded, he would still be in charge, he says. “I would be [on holiday] on an island!” But at the last minute, the deal was off, because of “the governmental interference of Mr Sarkozy”, who Blatter claims encouraged Michel Platini to vote for Qatar. “Just one week before the election I got a telephone call from Platini and he said, ‘I am no longer in your picture because I have been told by the head of state that we should consider . . . the situation of France.’ And he told me that this will affect more than one vote because he had a group of voters.”

Blatter will not be drawn on motives. He says he has only once spoken to Sarkozy since the vote and did not raise the issue. He does admit that the vote for the World Cup, carried out by a secret ballot of Fifa’s executive committee, was always open to “collusion”. “In an election, you can never avoid that, that’s impossible . . . when you are only a few in the electoral compound.”

One month after Fifa’s 22-strong executive committee voted 14-8 in a secret ballot in Qatar’s favour, the Arab state announced that it had begun testing French Dassault Rafale fighter jets against rival aircraft for a fleet upgrade. In April 2015, Qatar bought 24 of the jets for $7bn, with an option to buy 12 more.

. . .

The waiter arrives with our “Fifa salad”, a mix of lamb’s lettuce, croutons, lardons and diced egg. “This is Mama Blatter’s salad,” Blatter says cheerily. “We always made it with whatever greens were in season, and you put some croutons and a little bit of bacon.”

Blatter is from the small Alpine town of Visp (population: 7,500), about two hours from Zurich by train. A Roman Catholic, he plans to return there this weekend for All Souls’ Day. His father worked in a chemical plant and his only daughter, Corinne, still lives there, teaching English. He has a 14-year-old granddaughter called Selena. Blatter admits that his troubles have hit her hard. “I think she was suffering more than me,” he says, indicating that he lets criticism wash over him while she takes it personally.

When I ask Blatter what he thinks of Platini, he sits back in his chair, pauses, and then gives a diplomatic, if strained, response. “Platini was an exceptionally good player. He is a good guy. He could be a good successor, yes. It was foreseen, once, that he shall follow [me].”

Platini is still in the race for the Fifa presidency, but his campaign was effectively derailed following his suspension, at the same time as Blatter, after a SFr2m payment from Fifa to his bank account in 2011 came to light. “You do not need to have a contract written down [ . . .] according to Swiss law,” Blatter says of the Platini payment, adding that even witnesses are not necessary. “Handshake contracts are valid. The Anglo-Saxon system is not the same as the system here in central Europe.”

He is correct — Swiss law does provide for oral contracts — but I point out that this is not the way that large companies behave. “But we are a club,” he responds. When I point out that the payment was not accounted for, he shuts down the conversation.

While Blatter pays lip-service to the idea of reform at Fifa, saying there “must be more than a few changes”, he remains brass-necked about the culture of handshakes, favours and secret deals that he encouraged. “The system is not wrong,” he says, adding that if he had been allowed to remain as president, “then we would be in the right way”. His successor, he believes, should not try to change what he has created.

I ask him about the money, the allegations of bribery and corruption that have dogged him for years. Did he, or people working on his behalf, ever hand out cash to win the support of Fifa’s members?

He invokes his parents as he denies it all. “We have a principle in our family. The basic principle is to only take money if you earn it. Secondly, do not give money to anybody to obtain the advantage. And the third one is if you owe money, pay your debts. These are the principles I have followed since [I was] 12 years old,” he says. “That is why I am claiming that my conscience, as far as money is concerned, I am totally clear and clean.”

Is he a rich man? No, he says, he only earns what Fifa pays him — a sum that he refuses to disclose because Fifa releases its leadership payments only in aggregate; last year it paid $39.7m to its “key management personnel”.

“What do I do with my money? My daughter has an apartment. I have an apartment, one here and one there. That is all. I am not spending money just to show I have money. If you look at the richest Swiss people, I cannot approach the richest 3,000, because they are up to $25m.”

Sonnenberg

Hitzigweg 15, 8032 Zurich, Switzerland
2 x Passuger sparkling water SFr22

Bottle of Clavien Sauvignon

Blanc SFr73 2 x Fifa salad

(Mama Blatter recipe) SFr30

Veal chop SFr59r

Potato rösti SFr9

Boiled beef with julienned vegetables SFr37

2 x espresso SFr13

Total: SFr243 (plus SFr20 tip)

The waiter returns with our main courses. For me, a surprisingly large veal chop; for Blatter, a plate of boiled beef and julienned vegetables. He picks at it slowly. “I have to tell you that I don’t eat so much because you cannot eat more than you burn,” he says.

After a pause, he sketches out what he thinks were his two main achievements at Fifa: the Goal project, which sends millions of dollars to the world’s poorest countries and claims to have built more than 700 football facilities since 1998, and the decision to rotate the World Cup around the continents and, especially, to bring it to Africa in 2010.

He bats away my suggestion that the development money was another way of distributing favours and was a source of money for corrupt officials: “There is a percentage, perhaps 2 per cent or 3 per cent, which have not worked.”

His success in maintaining an iron grip on Fifa hangs partly on the support of African countries, which he has courted assiduously. The shadow of colonialism still lingers, and African football officials often feel that Europeans treat them as second-class. Blatter, by contrast, is unwavering in his vocal support for African football and worked tirelessly to bring the World Cup to South Africa. He has also delivered commercial success: in the four years leading up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Fifa had total revenues of $5.72bn.

In his view, he has created a virtuous circle: Fifa helps kids in developing countries play football by building them pitches and then benefits when they get home and watch big matches on TV. This work, he insists, cannot be undone: “My reputation is spoiled, because I was bitterly attacked, as responsible for everything. But it will not damage my legacy.” With the benefit of hindsight, he wonders whether it might have been better for him to stand down after the high of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

When I ask about the ISL case, in which it was revealed in 2008 that a sports agency founded by Horst Dassler of Adidas had paid SFr138m in bribes to senior Fifa officials, Blatter refuses to discuss it. He was not found guilty of any wrongdoing and, he says, the case is now closed and jokes about double indemnity: “In American law it is said you cannot be condemned twice!”

I bring up the case in the US in 2006 where Fifa paid a $90m settlement to MasterCard for reneging on a contract in order to sign a more lucrative sponsorship deal with Visa. “We were not very very clever,” admits Blatter. “It was wrong. But sometimes, because you were working hard you make mistakes. You cannot just hang somebody.”

As we pass over the thorny questions about his wealth, about Fifa’s corruption and secrecy, Blatter is calm. He believes he is a man more sinned against than sinning, and he repeats that he has little control over the behaviour of Fifa’s executive committee, whose members were not appointed by him, but by the six continental football federations.

“Regrets? I do not regret,” he says. “The only regret I have is that in my life in football I am a very generous man in my thoughts and I think people are good and then I have realised that most of the time I was, let’s say, trapped by people. You trust someone 100 per cent and then you see that all this trust was just to get some advantage. I have done it not only once, I have done it more than once. I have to bear that and I bear it.”

Meanwhile, he lambasts Switzerland for not protecting him. “I am a Swiss citizen. I was even a soldier! I was the commander of a regiment of 3,500 people. I served my country!” he protests, referring to his service in the 1960s as colonel in command in the army’s supply unit during the cold war.

These days, he has few allies left. He says he counted on one hand the number of friends he could call on for help when deciding whether to step down after years at the top of football. He admits his reputation has been destroyed. But he cannot stop. He remains proud of his life’s work. “Could somebody else have done it? If he was fool enough to only live for football, then he could have. But it is difficult to find people that have been in the game with not only their body, not only their mind, or with their heart, but with their soul. And I was therein. And if you ask me what I am doing later, I am still therein.”

We do not order any dessert, simply a cup of espresso and some petits-fours in the shape of small footballs. Blatter is looking forward to the evening, when his girlfriend, Linda Barras, a 51-year-old with two children, is flying in to see him. She lives in Geneva, but Blatter is happy with the situation.

“The distances are not detrimental to a good understanding,” he says. “Perhaps it is even better for the guy who has devoted all his life to football. When you are 100 per cent in your job and your job is really something you believe in, then obviously even by being a generous man, at a certain time the person living with you cannot be happy,” he says.

Then he stands up, suddenly small and frail again, signs a football for the restaurant’s manager and disappears into a black Mercedes.Lunch-with-the-FT-Sepp-Blatter-FT

++ (FT) Blatter accuses US of being ‘bad losers’ over Fifa probe

(FT) Sepp Blatter believes he would still be in charge of world football if he had succeeded with a secret plan to award the World Cup to the US.

The 79-year-old blamed American and Swiss authorities for forcing him to give up power by arresting several senior Fifa officials and threatening to prosecute Fifa as a mafia organisation.

The US had decided to pursue Fifa, he claimed, after it was beaten in the race for the 2022 World Cup by Qatar. “It took a political dimension,” he said. “I am looking now to see what were the political reasons. The easiest thing would be to say [they are] bad losers.”

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Blatter said there had been a secret deal between Fifa’s top leaders to rig the vote.

“The solution that has been agreed, not in writing, but it has been agreed [was] let’s go to the two superpowers in the vote for the World Cup: let’s go to Russia and let’s go to the United States,” he said. “And would this have been realised as it was foreseen, then I don’t know where I would be now. I would be on an island (on holiday)!”

Asked if Fifa’s full executive committee had decided on the deal, he said: “It was not a decision of the Exco. It was behind the scenes when we also said let us do two World Cups, let’s go to big markets. There was not a meeting where we came together. It was diplomatically arranged.”

But Mr Blatter said the pact had been disturbed by Michel Platini, head of European football’s governing body, who voted for Qatar together with three of his allies, after an intervention by Nicolas Sarkozy, the then French president.

“I found out after having made this, let’s say, gentleman’s agreement where we shall go. Just one week before the election, I got a telephone call from Michel Platini and he said: ‘I am no longer in your picture because I have been told by the head of state that we should consider the situation of France,” said Mr Blatter.

Mr Blatter said he did not know why Mr Sarkozy had intervened. “I do not know that, I cannot enter into it,” he said. One month after Qatar won the World Cup, it said it was evaluating the purchase of French Rafale jet fighters to upgrade its fleet.

The solution that has been agreed … [was] let’s go to the two superpowers in the vote for the World Cup: let’s go to Russia and let’s go to the United States

England’s Football Association has also said it may consider legal action after discovering that the vote for the 2018 World Cup was agreed in advance.

Mr Blatter said he had taken the decision to lay down his mandate, shortly after being elected for a fifth term as Fifa president, because of “pressure” but refused to comment on whether he had been in talks with the US Department of Justice.

At the end of May, Swiss police, acting on extradition requests from the US, arrested seven senior Fifa officials on corruption charges. Mr Blatter said he had stepped down to protect Fifa. “I am strong enough to defend myself, but I want that Fifa shall not be considered as just a (criminal) enterprise as they have shown,” he said.

Mr Blatter insisted that there was “nothing wrong” with the system he had built over the years at Fifa and warned his successor not to try to change too much.

He said the US-led attacks on Fifa had also put pressure on sponsors to speak out against him. Coca-Cola, Visa, AB InBev and McDonald’s all called for Mr Blatter to go. “It is the American companies. The other companies haven’t said anything. So you are intelligent enough to make the connection with American companies and the American investigation. I do not need to underline that.”

I am strong enough to defend myself, but I want that Fifa shall not be considered as just a [criminal] enterprise as they have shown

Mr Blatter also said he had considered stepping down as Fifa president after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but that an attack by Uefa, Europe’s governing body, on Fifa persuaded to him to stay and defend the organisation. “That would have been a good opportunity to step down,” he said.

But he said Uefa had wanted to take over Fifa and water down its role to just being a manager of the World Cup, with a separate board to decide on the rules of the game. The other continental football confederations had urged him to stay, he said. “Uefa has [the] idea that they are the best, they are the richest, the most intelligent, that they have the best players and that is why they must be in charge of Fifa,” he said.Blatter-accuses-US-of-being-‘bad-losers’-over-Fifa-probe-FT.p