(WFI) World Football Insider rounds up the 10 things you need to know about the global football business today.
New revelations in bidding scandal
FIFA is investigating claims made in another Sunday Times sting operation in which former general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen alleges two FIFA Ex-co members were prepared to accept bribes in exchange for their votes for 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts. Zen-Ruffinen, who worked for 16 years at FIFA before falling out with Sepp Blatter, was secretly filmed by undercover reporters posing as lobbyists for the USA bid. The newspaper quotes the 51-year-old, who allegedly offered his services as a fixer for the lobbyists, talking through a list of FIFA Ex-co names: “X is nice, he’s a nice guy, but X is money.” Of another member, he said: “X, it’s money, we can go to [a city] and talk with him on a terrace no problem.” Another Zen-Ruffinen described as “the biggest gangster you will find on earth”, claiming the minimum fee that member would demand would be $500,000. Zen-Ruffinen insisted that many of his comments were “impressions” and “exaggerated” to spark the lobbyists’ interest. He told the newspaper he was “totally against” bribery and had only offered to make introductions. Zen-Ruffinen allegedly adds that the Spain-Portugal 2018 bid had formed an alliance with Qatar 2022 to exchange votes, although both bids have denied collusion. Last week, FIFA suspended Ex-co members Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii, pending a full investigation by its ethics committee into allegations they offered to sell their votes for cash.
Blatter leadership under scrutiny
Under-fire Sepp Blatter faces a big week in his leadership of FIFA and his campaign to be re-elected as president at the FIFA Congress next May. Blatter will today meet with secretary general Jerome Valcke and other senior officials to discuss the damaging allegations centring around Zen-Ruffinen’s revelations. The executive committee meets on Thursday and Friday when the bid scandal will be top of the agenda. Members are also scheduled to decide the voting procedure for the Dec. 2 secret ballot. But one possible outcome of the Ex-co meeting is that the vote may be postponed.
Switzerland reviews corruption laws
Switzerland is examining its corruption laws following the bid scandal involving Zurich-based FIFA. Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung reported that sports minister Ueli Maurer has launched a review and may tighten the regulations. Switzerland is home to over 40 international sports federations, including FIFA, UEFA and the IOC. Federal sports office spokesman Christoph Lauener told the newspaper that corruption was a bigger problem for sport and its reputation than doping.
Only three bidders at International Football Arena
World Cup bid CEOs from Australia, Japan and Russia are presenting at the International Football Arena conference in Zurich tomorrow. Nearly 200 football executives are attending the Oct. 25 to 26 conference at the Dolder Grand Hotel, but there are few FIFA Ex-co members for the bid teams to impress. FIFA president Sepp Blatter is expected to be there for a short time, but with fresh allegations emerging
on Sunday in the bid bribery scandal he will be spending most of today and tomorrow in crisis meetings at FIFA headquarters. The other six 2018/2022 bids do not have a presence at the small-scale conference, preferring to concentrate their lobbying efforts elsewhere on the campaign trail.
UEFA denies Euro 2012 bribery claims
UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino has dismissed claims over bribes being given to UEFA officials to secure the 2012 European Championships for Poland and Ukraine. According to news reports over the weekend, Cyprus Football Association chief Spiros Marangos alleges that several members of UEFA’s ruling executive took bribes in exchange for their votes for the east European nations. The former head of the Polish FA, Michal Listkiewicz, also refuted the claims. Poland-Ukraine beat off competition from Italy and Croatia-Hungary in the UEFA vote in April 2007.
Serbia sanction over rioting fans?
Italy could be handed all three points from their Euro 2012 qualifier with Serbia. Rioting Serbian fans threw flares and fireworks onto the field at Stadio Luigi Ferraris and forced the Oct. 12 game to be abandoned after only six minutes. UEFA’s disciplinary body will deliver its ruling on the incident on Friday.
Bin Hammam hails Vision Asia
Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam has expressed satisfaction with the development of the Vision Asia initiative since its 2003 launch. He told AFC.com that it was a “positive sign” that there were already 12 member associations and 37 cities involved in the project. Speaking at the launch of Thailand’s Vision Chonburi League on Saturday, he said: “There are ups and downs [in Vision Asia programmes], but generally we are in a good progress and in an advancing stage.”
Beckham scores as Galaxy win title
David Beckham scored a crucial goal to help the LA Galaxy beat FC Dallas 2-1 to win Major League Soccer’s Western Conference title. Galaxy now enter the play-offs as the Western Conference’s top seeds and will face the Seattle Sounders in the semi-finals. The 35-year-old former England captain was applauded by Galaxy manager Bruce Arena, who said it was his best performance this season.“I felt last game was my best performance, but if Bruce says that, then I will take that,” he told the Galaxy website. After returning from an Achilles injury, he added: “I’m just trying to get my match fitness back, and the last couple of games, I felt really good, so I am happy that the manager thinks that about me. It was a good team performance tonight.”
Brazilian football legend Pelé celebrated his 70th birthday on Sunday. Edson Arantes do Nascimento, who played in three World Cups, scoring six goals in Brazil’s victorious 1958 World Cup campaign, netted 1,087 goals in 1,120 league appearances for Santos, won the Campeonato Paulista ten times and two Copa Libertadores.
Infront hospitality subsidiary relocates
Infront Hospitality Management, the hospitality arm of the international sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media, has relocated from Lustenau in Austria to Infront’s headquarters in Zug, Switzerland. The hospitality operation’s projects included 2010 World Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi. Markus Katschnig, the company’s new managing director, has event hospitality including work at UEFA Euro 2008 in Austria-Switzerland.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
Your best source of news about the global football business is World Football INSIDER