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.

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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.

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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.

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