FIFA starts to redeem itself

December 22nd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were each banned for eight years by the FIFA ethics committee last night 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.

Good. This starts to restore a modicum of faith in FIFA.

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.

Another story gives the context:

A state of denial is a virulent affliction for football’s lake-dwellers – and Platini has a bad case of it. He cannot see how accepting $2 million from Blatter shortly before he (Platini) agreed not to challenge Blatter for the Fifa presidency might offend the sensibilities of those who think transparency and accountability are vital attributes of governing bodies.

if it looks like a bribe, sounds like a bribe and smells like a bribe, it probably is a bribe.

The suggestion it was for work done 10 years earlier is almost laughable. A few issues with that:

  • Who would wait ten years to be paid?
  • $500,000 a year for a part-time advisory role is ludicrous
  • There was no contract
  • The debt was never shown in the books
  • Any payment to an “insider” is a potential conflict of interest and should be approved independently and recorded

We all knew Blatter was corrupt, but sad that Platini has been found to also be corrupt. He was seen as one of the white knights, but it seems all their knights are just shades of grey,

Football corrupt, not just FIFA

November 29th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Transparency International have done a report on FIFA and national football associations. They find:

Between 2011 and 2014 FIFA distributed a minimum of US$2.05 million to each of its 209 member football associations (FAs). This included a one-off payment in 2014 of US$1.05 million following the success of the World Cup. During that same period FIFA also gave US$102 million to the six regional football Confederations. FIFA says the money is for football development. But other than a partial accounting on the FIFA web site, there is no clear way to track what the FAs did with all that money.

  • 81 per cent of FAs have no financial records publicly available
  • 21 per cent of FAs have no websites
  • 85 per cent of FAs publish no activity accounts of what they do

81% have no public accounts and 21% do not even have a website! Yet they get millions of dollars.

Only fourteen out of FIFA’s 209 football associations – Canada, Denmark, England, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden – publish the minimum amount of information necessary to let people know what they do, how they spend their money and what values they believe in.

Well done Football New Zealand.

42% of FIFA members publish no relevant information about their organisations.

They propose:

FIFA should mandate through a change in its statutes that all its members must make publicly available the following information as a pre-requisite for membership and financial assistance: audited financial accounts, an annual activities report, code of conduct/ethics3 and organisational statutes. This should supersede national legal requirements if they are less rigorous.

Seems a good idea to me. You want the money, you need to have some transparency.

Was Dempsey bribed?

October 30th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Former German football federation president Theo Zwanziger believes Swiss court documents indicate US$250,000 was paid to Oceania official Charlie Dempsey on the eve of the vote in July 2000 in which Germany won the right to stage the 2006 World Cup.

A court document in a trial of executives from the collapsed Swiss sports marketing company ISL show the sum was transferred to an anonymous recipient marked only as E16, according to a report in Germany’s Bild newspaper.

Zwanziger has presented reporters from Bild with the document in which it is suggested that former FIFA executive committee member Dempsey, the then Oceania confederation president from New Zealand, received the money as a bribe.

Zwanziger has written “Dempsey!” next to the payment made on July 5, 2000.

Next to a further transfer of $US250,000 dollars made a month earlier in a list of payments from ISL, Zwanziger has again written “Dempsey?”, but with a question mark instead of an exclamation mark, according to the document from 2012 published by Bild.

In the final round of voting for the 2006 World Cup on July 6, 2000, Dempsey, who died in 2008 at the age of 87, ignored the reported Oceania confederation instruction to vote for South Africa and abstained, allowing Germany to win a 12-11 vote against South Africa.


Possibly not enough for a conviction in court, but pretty  damning.

Can bank records find out who the money was transferred to? Or was it a cash withdrawal?

Clark to head FIFA reform?

October 19th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark would be an ideal candidate to head reform of Fifa, a prominent whistleblower says.

Bonita Mersiades, who was part of the Australian bid team for the 2018 World Cup, has repeated her calls for someone of Clark’s stature to lead reform of Fifa.

Mersiades presented evidence to the Fifa corruption inquiry chaired by Michael Garcia and is involved in the New Fifa Now campaign.

In an interview with German website, she said only an independent person not involved in football could lead the overhaul of Fifa.

“An American would be inappropriate, because US authorities are investigating the Fifa. I think to Kofi Annan or Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and today head of the UN Development Programme,” Marsiades said, according to a translation of the interview.

It’s not a bad idea, as only a total outsider would have credibility.

Would the last honest man at FIFA turn the lights out?

October 9th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini, the man who had been favored to take over as FIFA leader, were both suspended for 90 days late on Thursday, plunging football’s governing body deeper into crisis.

So that’s the President, and the likely next President.

Another presidential hopeful, Chung Mong-joon, was suspended for six years in a separate case and FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke was banned for 90 days.

And the top administrator, and a further presidential candidate.

Issa Hayatou, the longtime head of the African football confederation who was reprimanded in 2011 by the International Olympic Committee in a FIFA kickbacks scandal, will take over as acting president.

The Acting President does not have a clean record.

The interim leader of UEFA will be Spanish federation head Angel Maria Villar, who remains at risk of being sanctioned from the FIFA ethics committee in its investigation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.

And the acting European Head is under investigation!

Hands up if you are surprised

September 7th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Former Oceania football boss Charlie Dempsey was paid nearly $400,000 to abstain from the vote for the 2006 World Cup hosting rights, a new book alleges.

The Scottish-born New Zealander, who died in 2008, was a central figure in the controversial vote in 2000 which awarded the tournament to Germany.

The book by investigative journalist Andrew Jennings, The Dirty Game: Uncovering the Scandal at FIFA, alleges Dempsey was paid US$250,000 (NZ$398,000) not to vote for South Africa, thereby awarding the tournament to Germany.

An extract from the book has been published in the Daily Mail, outlining how Germany got the hosting rights.

Dempsey declined to take part in the final round of the voting process. He had voted for England in the first two rounds but was under instruction to back the South African bid once England were eliminated from contention.

Instead, he abstained and left the vote at 12-11 in favour of Germany. Had the vote been tied, Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who had previously expressed his desire for football’s biggest tournament to be held on the African continent, would have held the deciding vote.

The book alleges a German man “fixed” Dempsey.

“Anticipating the possibility of a 12-12 draw, the arrangement was that Charlie would leave the vote, go back to the Dolder Grand hotel and collect a briefcase left for him in the cloakroom. It contained US$250,000. A cab would rush him to the airport for the flight home.”

This would surprise no-one. FIFA is to global sports what the mafia is to sanitation services.

Now that is a good prank

July 23rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A British comedian disrupted a news conference by Sepp Blatter overnight, showering the FIFA president with fake money.

As Blatter took his seat, performer Simon Brodkin rose from a front-row seat to confront him.

“This is for North Korea 2026,” Brodkin said as he put the bills on the desk in front of Blatter. “Thank you very much. As a North Korean football ambassador, I’m delighted that I’ve been able to seal the deal with FIFA and North Korea for the 2026 World Cup. It makes sense for everyone.”

Brodkin then tossed the notes into the air as security led him away.

“Here we go Sepp,” he said. “Thank you. Cheers Sepp. It’s all there, as discussed. Thank you. Good doing business.”

Classic. It’s funny because it is so close to the truth.

Blatter goes – finally

June 3rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Sepp Blatter has stunned the world of football,  resigning as Fifa president just four days after being re-elected to a fifth term.

The 79-year-old, who has held office since 1998, announced the decision in Zurich on Tuesday (NZT Wednesday), six days after Swiss police, acting on a request from United States authorities, raided a hotel in the Swiss city and arrested several Fifa officials in a corruption investigation. Blatter has not been charged.

“While I have a mandate from the membership of Fifa, I do not feel I have a mandate from the entire world of football – the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at Fifa,” Blatter said.

“This is why I will call an extraordinary congress to be held as soon as possible, for a new president to be elected to follow me.”

Domenico Scala, head of Fifa’s independent audit and compliance committee, said there would need to be four months’ notice for any new presidential election.

“The decision for the timing of the election of the next president will be up to the executive committee and will take place any time from December until March.”


This is good news for football, but why the change of heart? He was totally defiant just two days ago.

One possibility is that the corruption probe was getting close to him personally. The $10,000,000 payment to Jack Warner was apparently made by the FIFA Secretary-General. How credible is it Blatter would not have known?

But I think the bigger issue, is that the next World Cup was facing a boycott. Having chatted to a number of friends in Europe, there was strong support for UEFA to refuse to participate while Blatter remained in charge, and corruption so rampant. And a World Cup without Germany, Italy, Spain and France would be meaningless. Plus the commercial money would dry up without the Europeans.

Hopefully the next President will be someone of unimpeachable integrity – but also someone who will seek and get a mandate to fundamentally restructure FIFA so that future world cup venues will be decided by merit, not bribes.

The FIFA arrests

May 28th, 2015 at 6:37 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The United States is seeking to extradite corporate executives and officials of Fifa, the international association responsible for governing football  and the World Cup, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Wednesday (Thursday NZT).

Swiss authorities arrested six defendants in a dawn raid at a swanky hotel in Zurich on Wednesday on charges stemming from taking bribes, including from countries bidding to host the World Cup.

Those arrested have been taken into custody, a law enforcement official said. If they fight the extradition order, the case could drag on for years, the official said.

Swiss authorities said that six of seven individuals arrested on corruption charges will contest their extradition to the United States, but that one person agreed to be extradited.

In a brief statement which didn’t disclose names, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice said US officials now have up to 40 days to submit formal and detailed extradition requests to Swiss authorities.

“Extradition proceedings will be resumed as soon as these requests have been received,” the justice office said in a statement on Wednesday.

It’s been an open secret that FIFA is basically corrupt, and that there must have been bribes for Qatar to win the World Cup hosting for 2022. Very impressed that finally someone has done something about it, and that charges have been laid. That is the way to stop it in future.

European football’s  governing body UEFA has called for Friday’s Fifa presidential election, where current president Sepp Blatter will seek a fifth term against Prince Ali bin Al Hussein to be postponed, secretary general Gianni Infantino told reporters.

“We strongly believe the Fifa Congress should be postponed with new Fifa presidential elections to be organised within the next six months,” he told reporters at the Sheraton Hotel.

Blatter may not have been charged himself, bit it happened on his watch.

US officials gave details of a case in which they said they exposed complex money laundering schemes, found millions of dollars in untaxed incomes and tens of millions in offshore accounts held by Fifa officials.

Can’t wait for the trials.

On radio a week or so ago I compared FIFA to the mafia, and reflected afterwards that I may have been too harsh. But as we learn about the offshore bank accounts, I think not.

Editorials 30 June 2010

June 30th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald focuses on Fiji:

The second was the introduction of a grandly titled Media Industry Development Decree. It means, among other things, that the Fiji Times, the country’s oldest and largest newspaper, has three months to remove Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd as its owner or face closure.

If the first development borders on farce, the second should remove any lingering illusions about the regime’s view of democratic niceties. The decree effectively eliminates freedom of expression in Fiji.

Aside from the restriction on foreign ownership, a tribunal has been established to ensure nothing is printed or broadcast against the “national interest or public order”.

In essence, Fijians will no longer know what their rulers are up to. Special attention is being paid to the Fiji Times because, according to the Attorney-General, it has been “the purveyor of negativity, at least for the past three years”.

The move against the media is part of an ongoing removal of Fijians’ rights. This has included the abrogation of the constitution, the squashing of dissent and the dishonouring of pledges for a return to democracy.

There is sadly no evidence that there will be a return to democracy. I can’t see a scenario where the Commodore will give up power and let Fijians actually decide on their Government.

This step should also occasion a rethink by New Zealanders who spend their holidays in Fiji. Tim Pankhurst, of the New Zealand Media Freedom Committee has suggested a boycott.

He has a point. Tourists might like to say that Fijian businesses and jobs should not be penalised for the sins of the regime. But they are undermining their own country’s diplomatic efforts.

Fiji’s tourism-driven economy attracts 60 per cent of its patronage from New Zealand and Australia. No official boycott can be imposed, nor should it be.

But a rethink by would-be tourists would apply further pressure. And if, ultimately, it is up to the Fijian people to send Commodore Bainimarama back to the barracks, tourists temporarily moving away from Fiji for other Pacific destinations would hammer home a message about the pariah status of their rulers.

Rather than out all the onus on consumers, the media could play their part. Rather than just write editorials, APN and Fairfax could refuse to accept advertising for Fiji tourism. That would be a sign of solidarity with their colleagues in Fiji, and show real commitment rather than just words.

The Press lashes FIFA:

Football prides itself on being the “beautiful game”, but the current World Cup in South Africa has been marred by too many ugly refereeing decisions.

One of the most egregious occurred this week when England’s Frank Lampard was not awarded a goal against Germany despite the ball clearly crossing the goal line after hitting the crossbar.

This must serve as a wake-up call for Fifa boss Sepp Blatter and his top officials to get their heads out of the sand and harness the electronic technology successfully used by so many other sports.

It is a no brainer.

The Dom Post looks at smoking in prisons:

But surely an outright ban goes too far? How about halfway measures first, such as a prison smoking-room, or a ban on smoking in cells? If she is wedded to a total ban, what are known as “cessation assistance” programmes – already available to anyone, including the incarcerated, who want to quit – must be funded appropriately. …

As usual with any broadbrush proposal, the devil will be in the detail. But that detail should acknowledge union unease. The minister has already attended the funeral of one prison guard this year – a political show that bore an uncanny resemblance to former prime minister Helen Clark’s infamous appearance at the Folole Muliaga funeral in 2007. Ms Collins does not want the option of attending another.

What an incredibly stupid comparison, in terms of funerals. Jason Palmer was employed by the Government and died doing his job, and as a result of his job. I don’t know anyone who thinks a Minister should not attend the funeral of law & order professionals who get killed by criminals. In fact it is almost disrespectful not to go.

What that has in common with the circus generated around the Muliaga’s I don’t know.

The ODT also looks at smoking:

With this background, it may have surprised some readers to learn that the inmates of our prisons are permitted to smoke, including in their cells, unlike in Canada, some British prisons, and those in some Australian states, where the practice is banned.

The intention of the Minister of Corrections to ban smoking in our jails from July next year is certainly easily justified on health grounds alone, and the overseas precedent suggests the fears being raised here by vested interests are largely groundless. …

Objectors have raised two main issues: the right of prisoners to smoke in what is effectively their “own home”; and the potential for violent reaction from prisoners required to cease smoking.

The first claim is groundless.

Prisoners are, in effect, tenants.

The State, as landlord, can and does impose conditions of use.

Additionally, prisoners who do not smoke – and prison guards – are entitled to not be confined in conditions where their own health may be damaged by second-hand smoke.

The department has anticipated prisoner reaction by giving a year’s notice of the measure, and by its intention to offer a cessation programme, including nicotine replacements, for those who seek such help.

That approach is not unreasonable.

Meanwhile 65% of people in Labour’s poll say they back the ban, so I expect we will see them come out backing it shortly.