Polish Association in Corruption Scandal

The chairman of the Polish Football Association (PZPN) is facing a government select committee amid allegations of his involvement in a corrupt building contract deal.
Polish Football Association chairman Grzgorz Lato. (PAP)
Grzgorz Lato answered questions Thursday, just a day after PZPN secretary general Zdzisław Kręcina resigned in the wake of a video emerging last week that implicates himself and Lato in corrupt deals when the FA’s new headquarters was under construction.
After confirming that Krecina had offered his resignation to the PZPN board Wednesday, Lato told the Parliamentary Committee on Sports, Culture and Tourism: “I will not deny that some things of a private nature were raised before things became heated.”
The corruption claims have come up at an awkward time for the PZPN with just seven months to go until Euro 2012 is due to kickoff in Poland and the Ukraine.
Lato will leave the hearing Friday morning for the tournament’s group stage draw in Kiev.
He also dismissed claims made by the media that he made around $36,000 a month, saying “I earn [$15,000], gross”.
But the FA chairman does not have much support from colleagues, as former Polish international goalkeeper and teammate MP Jan Tomaszewski told reporters Thursday: “Lato used to be my friend but now he is in disrepute”.
Transparency International Withdraws From FIFA
Transparency International has withdrawn from assisting FIFA with its anti-corruption reforms because the organization believes it would not be “truly independent”.
Mark Pieth was introduced Wednesday as head of FIFA’s Independent Governance Committee. (WFI)
Senior adviser for sport Sylvia Schenk told Bloomberg News that the organization had turned down an invitation to join the outside committee because its Chairman Mark Pieth is on the payroll of FIFA.
“All members of the commission are supposed to be independent, you can’t be independent if you have a contract with FIFA,” Schenk said.
He then went on to suggest that any funds needed for such an independent body should come from a wide group including sponsors, broadcasters and football associations.
However, Pieth himself was not pleased with Schenk’s comments, stating it’s normal practice for companies to pay for outside auditors to evaluate their businesses.
“We can’t start asking audit firms to do their job for free just to make sure they are independent,” Pieth told Bloomberg. “What you’ll get is something quite pathetic.”

English FA Launches Strategy Refresh
The English Football Association has launched its National Game Strategy Refresh, which includes a significant amount of investment
in grassroots football.
The four-year plan is a continuation of the original four-year strategy launched back in 2008.
The plan includes a number of priorities, foremost of which is investment in grassroots football to the tune of more than $300 million over the next four years.
The strategy came together after the FA consulted with around 25,000 members of the English game including the National Game Board, County FAs, schools and the members of the Big Grassroots survey.
FA General Secretary Alex Horne said in a statement: “By publishing our new refresh, we are able to let all our football stakeholders know that we have a robust framework in place to ensure funding is used to get more people playing the game, to protect facilities and provide a fun and safe football experience.”
Roger Burden, Chair of the National Game Board, added: “An enormous amount of work has been delivered and it’s important that the hard work of all those involved at the grassroots level of the game is acknowledged.
“There are more boys and girls playing the game than ever before, more coaches and officials are gaining qualifications, and behaviour on and off the pitch has shown improvement.”
FIFA Latest
FIFA and the worldwide player’s union FifPro have unveiled the 55 players shortlisted for their World XI 2011.
The winning World XI will be revealed at the FIFA Ballon d’Or in Zurich on Jan. 9. The shortlist was selected by the 50,000 professional footballers belonging to the players’ unions across the world in a secret ballot.
Spain’s Primera División garnered the most nominees with 22, followed closely by England’s Premier League with 18 and Italy’s Serie A with 9. Four nominees came from Germany’s Bundesliga and one each from respective World Cup hosts Russia’s Futbolnaja Premjer-liga and Brazil’s Série A.
FIFA also launched Thursday the eighth edition of the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC), promising it would be the most expansive version of the online video game tournament yet.
The 2012 edition will feature six online qualification seasons and 11 live qualifier events determining the best 23 players in the world. The winner will then join reigning FIWC Champion Francisco Cruz from Portugal at the Grand Final to be held in May 2012.

By INSIDER’s Christian Radnedge

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