The world governing body of football, Fifa, was plunged into an unprecedented crisis on the eve of its congress in Zurich after Swiss authorities arrested a string of officials in a dawn raid and opened criminal proceedings over the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
More than a dozen plainclothed officers descended on the five-star Baur au Lac hotel on Wednesday, where officials had gathered for Fifa’s annual meeting.
The arrests were made on behalf of US authorities, after an FBI investigation that has been ongoing for at least three years. The US Department of Justice said authorities had charged 14 officials, nine of whom are current or former Fifa executives. Those arrested in Zurich face extradition to the US…
Separately, Swiss federal prosecutors said they had opened criminal proceedings in connection with the award of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. These decisions have been shrouded in claims of bribery and corruption ever since the vote in December 2010.
The Swiss authorities seized “electronic data and documents” in a raid on Fifa headquarters. Bank documents had earlier been collected from various Swiss financial institutions. Police will question 10 members of the Fifa executive committee who took part in the World Cup votes. The 10, all still current members of Fifa’s ExCo, include senior vice-president Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s sports minister who is head of the country’s 2018 World Cup organising committee. The others are Angel Maria Villar Llona (Spain), Michel D’Hooghe (Belgium), Senes Erzik (Turkey), Worawi Makudi (Thailand), Marios Lefkaritis (Cyprus), Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast), Rafael Salguero (Guatemala) and Hany Abo Rida (Egypt).
In a statement, the Swiss attorney general’s office said the executives were being questioned on suspicion of “criminal mismanagement” and money laundering. It said the timing of the operation was deliberately co-ordinated with the arrests on behalf of the US authorities “to avoid any possible collusion” between suspects and because a large number of those involved in the voting for the two World Cups were present in Zurich, where Fifa president Sepp Blatter was expected to be re-elected for another four-year term on Friday.
At a later press conference at Fifa headquarters, spokesman Walter de Gregorio denied Blatter was in any way involved with either investigation and said blah, blah, blah, blah.
I shan’t wander off into the scumbag details, now. RTFA. The tale is global. Corruption, bribery, payoffs, money laundering, kickbacks and profit from all of the above fill in the broad strokes of an outline of FIFA history for the last couple of decades. Money remains the most useful tool of corruption.
I am no longer shocked. Cynicism is not a necessity, it is a result. It is derivative.
I recommend following The GUARDIAN through the coming days unraveling the corruption that is FIFA. No one in the world of journalism has struggled longer and harder to bring that sporting body to a principled change.
Sadio Mané scores the fastest hat trick in Premier League history
Remarkable. Incredible. Amazing. There are perhaps no words to sum up what happened in under three minutes at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton on Saturday.
Sadio Mané scored the quickest hat trick in Premier League, as Southampton’s Senegalese forward netted three times in 2 minutes and 56 seconds of Southampton’s game against Aston Villa…
We couldn’t believe it while we watched it live, this morning.
Poor Tim Sherwood. One of our favorite managers – and Aston Villa performing like defense hadn’t yet been invented.
The Atlanta Falcons are being investigated by the NFL for creating artificial noise in their stadium for home games. The team confirmed the investigation’s existence Sunday after the league started looking into the noise level of the games the past two seasons.
The Falcons are accused of piping in noise while the opposing teams huddled to discuss plays.
Excessive noise, such as a rowdy crowd, can make it difficult for a team to run their offensive line, and thereby theoretically damaged their plays. Both the Seattle Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs have broken the record for being the loudest stadiums. Natural crowd noise is not considered a violation of the rules, but creating noise could be considered a competitive advantage…
The tactic, if used, did not help the Falcons. They were only 6-10 at home over the last two seasons and 4-12 away.
If the Falcons are found guilty, the punishment will be steep and could lead to losing a draft pick.
Um, OK. Home field advantage and crowd noise is even more distinctive in proper football. What Americans call “soccer”.
Supporters of visiting teams are often limited to a very small percentage of seats. Often as low as 5%. Tie that in with the global tradition of supporter songs and chants – louder than many Americans may ever experience – and you have serious supportage.
In most countries the only amplification ever allowed is for cheerleaders. Not the crowd. Cripes, I’d hate to imagine what it would be like in a tight noisy stadium like Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium. Supporters often reach 83db – though Liverpool’s Anfield has been measured recently at 97db.
That’s equivalent to modern “quieter” jetliners taking off.
The photo is from this weekend in Suzuka, Japan. The Japanese Gran Prix. It rained.
These two cars are driven by teammates who also happen to hold the top two positions in the world championship with four races left in the season. At that moment they were separated by a hair, a couple of points.
The driver on the left is Nico Rossberg. Catching him on the right in Lewis Hamilton. Competing with each other for the world championship truly is more important than team victories. Mercedes would not like it to be that way – but, it is and cannot be any different.
In the rain, slowing from perhaps 200mph to take this turn around 60 mph, braking in the rain, Lewis Hamilton is about to pass Nico Rossberg on the outside of the curve they are entering and go on to win the race.
Understand all of that in Shuji Kajiyama’s photograph.
A small town in Northern Michigan had the eyes of the soccer world watching it with the largest crowd in American history on hand to witness Real Madrid and Manchester United at Michigan Stadium. A grand total of 109,318 were in the stands to witness the event. The game was broadcast around the world in up to 40 countries, with an estimated economic impact of $15-20 million on Washtenaw county…
As expected, the atmosphere inside the stadium was even louder and more energetic than the one created outside of it leading up to the match. Fans had descended onto Ann Arbor from around the world, and once the game kicked off, it was easy to forget that the match was only a part of a preseason tournament. Nonetheless, Manchester United, only needed a point to reach the final in Miami, and Louis Van Gaal wanted his team to be there…
The game on the pitch was rather action packed, but it was those watching the match in the stands that really made it such a special occasion. Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor was proof that soccer has made it in North America.
Major League Soccer continues to grow in strength, reputation and competitive level. Reflecting not only the growth of proper football in the United States; but, the reputation and ability of teams throughout our regional association CONCACAF.
Today’s record attendance broke the existing record by almost 10% – and that was a match between Brazil and France. Not in Michigan.
The match was fun BTW. Man of the Match was Mr. Potatohead – which is not a negative in my mind for Wayne Rooney from Man U.
“Ethical behavior of coaches is always in the spotlight,” said lead researcher Mariya Yukhymenko, PhD, a visiting research associate at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Our study found several negative effects related to abusive coaches, including a willingness by players to cheat to win games.”
Men’s teams were much more willing to cheat than women’s teams, according to the study, and men’s football, basketball and baseball teams reported the highest willingness to cheat at large universities in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, where players are often under intense pressure to win…
Both men’s and women’s basketball teams were much more likely to report they had abusive coaches than any other sport, although the reasons weren’t clear from the study, said researcher Thomas Paskus, PhD, a quantitative psychologist and the NCAA’s principal research scientist. Almost one-third (31 percent) of male basketball players and one in four female basketball players at Division I schools said their head coaches put them down in front of others, according to the survey results. “I think that raises some questions about the culture in that sport, even though there are a lot of coaches doing it the right way,” Paskus said…
Abusive behavior by college coaches has been a growing concern, following several high-profile incidents of coaches being fired or sued by players for alleged abusive behavior, including screaming insults, shoving or kicking athletes. This study looked only at verbal abuse by asking players whether a coach ridiculed or put them down in front of others. The study did not determine whether abusive coaches actively encouraged or permitted cheating by their teams, but there was a correlation between abusive coaches and an increased willingness by players to cheat in order to win.
Players who said they had abusive coaches also were more likely to report that their coaches didn’t create an inclusive team environment and that both their coaches and teammates were less respectful of people from other racial or ethnic groups and less accepting of differing viewpoints and cultures, according to the study…
The researchers recommended that college athletic departments conduct workshops or other programs to improve ethical leadership by coaches. “The impact that athletic coaches have on their athletes potentially affects everything from retention and chances of graduation to how these student athletes coach future generations of young athletes,” the study noted.
Offhand, I can’t think of a team sport at the collegiate level where I haven’t witnessed players diving to gain an advantage.
How strong has this become at the high school level?
While thousands of Russian fans were left devastated by their team’s early exit from the World Cup tournament, one Orthodox priest has openly rejoiced at their failure, denouncing the contest as a “homosexual abomination.”
Priest Alexander Shumsky seems to have taken particular exception to the brightly colored footwear on display in Brazil, writing in his column on Christian website Russian People’s Line that players who wear green, yellow, pink or blue shoes helped promote the “gay rainbow.”
“Wearing pink or blue shoes, [the players] might as well wear women’s panties or a bra,” Shumsky wrote, adding that he was also offended by the “unthinkable” hairstyles of some of the players in Brazil.
The 2014 World Cup has seen competitors from across the globe sport a range of colorful shoes, with all three of the major sporting brands — Adidas, Nike and Puma — unveiling brightly colored designs at the tournament in an effort to capture something of the Brazilian carnival flair.
But for Shumsky, the marketing campaigns appear to have had the opposite effect.
“The liberal ideology of globalism clearly wants to oppose Christianity with football. I’m sure of it. Therefore I am glad that the Russian players have failed and, by the grace of God, no longer participate in this homosexual abomination,” the priest wrote in his online column.
Shumsky is still pissed-off that Robbie Coltrane beat him out for the part of Rubeus Hagrid in HARRY POTTER.
Tim Howard’s stunning performance against Belgium in Tuesday evening’s epic last-16 contest in Salvador was the talk of the US yesterday after his remarkable, bloody-minded refusal to let the ball past him in the 90 minutes of normal time captured the hearts of sports fans Stateside.
But its true significance may take years to gauge because the preformance, and the reaction, may prove the tipping point which confirm the US as a real football force, establishing the sport as a real rival to American football and baseball.
Howard may have eventually succumbed in extra-time but as the New York Times put it yesterday morning: “All around the country, from coast to coast and through the nation’s belly, sports fans of every kind were inspired by the performance of a soccer goalkeeper. In a loss.”
Howard’s performance was the best statistically by a goalkeeper at any World Cup since 1966. The Everton man made a record 16 saves according to Fifa, starting as early as the 40th second when he denied Divock Origi after the Belgian striker broke through. That was one of four stops in the first half but it was after the break, when Belgium turned up the heat, that Howard came into his own and the American captain transformed into a footballing Captain America. He made eight saves in a gripping second period to keep Belgium at bay – leaping high to paw away two Origi efforts, while using his feet and legs to block a series of low strikes.
It was only with substitute Romelu Lukaku running at a tired American defence in extra-time that his resistance was broken; Lukaku, his team-mate at Everton last season, set up Kevin de Bruyne before lifting one over Howard himself. If Lukaku’s first action at the end of the match was to embrace Howard, it is a feeling shared by millions of Americans.
The goalkeeper’s heroics went viral on the internet in the hours that followed, with the hashtag “ThingsTimHowardCouldSave” inspiring pictures of the 35 year-old rescuing Bambi and the swimmer from Jaws. US vice-president Joe Biden tweeted: “Proud that our guys, just like our country, never gave up. Tim Howard – most valuable player in the World Cup.”
RTFA for more details about the whole team. We’re getting there. Nice to see we can catch up with the rest of the world in an area with social value. Lifetime sports can be a passion for spectator as well as participants.