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GENEVA (AP) FIFA’s unethical weakness for luxury watches earned a windfall for a soccer charity working in Brazil.
A total of 48 Swiss watches given to soccer officials at the 2014 World Cup have been recovered and donated to a non-profit organization, the FIFA ethics committee said on Thursday.
The Parmigiani watches – valued at more than $26,000 each – were handed out in Sao Paulo to members of FIFA’s often-discredited executive committee, presidents of national federations whose teams played at the 32-team tournament and officials from South American federations.
Michel D’Hooghe, the longest-serving FIFA executive committee member, told The Associated Press on Thursday the watch he got had been a “poisonous gift.”
The gifts were from the Confederation of Brazilian Football, whose then-president Jose Maria Marin has been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice in a widening bribery case which has rocked FIFA and helped force President Sepp Blatter from office.
Marin, who was extradited to the U.S. from Switzerland this month and is under electronic surveillance at his Manhattan apartment, oversaw the gifts in clear breach of FIFA’s Code of Ethics. It allows only for gifts of “symbolic or trivial value.”
Still, gifting luxury watches has long been a tradition for FIFA officials and all who took the presents – or did not report them – risked sanctions under the code which was made stricter in 2012.
After ruling they were unauthorized gifts, FIFA ethics prosecutors decided against opening cases against officials who received a watch on the condition that they returned it.
“After contacting all potential recipients, 48 watches were returned to the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee,” the FIFA ethics committee said in a statement.
A total of nine watches could not be returned, with six officials or federations saying they never had it in their possession, committee spokesman Andreas Bantel told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
One watch is still with an official who was arrested in Zurich on May 27 by Swiss federal police acting on a request by American prosecutors.
“He wanted to give it back but before he was able to, he was arrested,” Bantel said, declining to identify the man.
The CBF initially said 65 watches were distributed but the ethics investigation traced 57.
“We were very thorough in following up on this matter,” Bantel said.
FIFA earlier said the CBF obtained watches from its sponsor Parmigiani for $8,750 each. But an appraisal found they had a market value of 25,000 Swiss francs ($26,600).
A spokesman for the CBF, Fernando Torres, declined to comment on its role on Thursday stating that “this specific decision regards only FIFA.”
The watches will be given to an organization named streetfootballworld, “who will directly invest all resources generated through the sale of the watches into initiatives across Brazil that use football to drive social change.”
“The investigatory chamber of the ethics committee considers the matter to be closed,” it said.
D’Hooghe said he had no idea about the value of the “poisonous gift” which was within a bag featuring promotional material about Brazil.
“I had absolutely no interest in that watch,” D’Hooghe told The AP. “I found it in my bag and I did not know it was expensive. I gave it to a friend who visited the World Cup. I had to ask for it back.”
D’Hooghe, who was cleared by the ethics committee this year over a painting he received from a Russian friend during the 2018 World Cup bidding contest, said he now refuses any gifts.
“I don’t need any presents,” said the Belgian doctor, who was first elected to FIFA’s ruling panel 27 years ago. “I am an honorable man.”
AP Sports Writers Rob Harris in London and Samuel Petrequin in Paris contributed to this report
For the 14th week of the 2015-16 Premier League season, I put my neck on the line to predict the scores for all 10 Premier League matches.
[ MORE: Top 5 storylines to look for in PL ]
If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.
[ STREAM: Every PL game live online ]
Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out
BASICALLY, FREE MONEY
Tottenham 1-3 Chelsea – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, USA) – [STREAM]
Leicester 0-2 Man United – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]
Norwich City 0-3 Arsenal – (Sunday, 11:15 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]
Aston Villa 2-1 Watford – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]
DON’T TOUCH THIS…
Bournemouth 1-2 Everton – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]
West Ham 2-1 West Brom – (Sunday, 9:05 am. ET, USA) – [STREAM]
Man City 2-2 Southampton – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]
Sunderland 1-1 Stoke City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]
“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”
Liverpool 1-2 Swansea City – (Sunday, 11:15 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]
Crystal Palace 1-2 Newcastle – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]
Week 14 of the 2015-16 Premier League season is here as we end November with a flurry of feisty fixtures.
[ MORE: Latest transfer news ]
It all kicks off at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday as injury-hit Manchester City host Southampton (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) with Ronald Koeman‘s men looking to break into the top six, while City aim to recover from their heavy defeat to Liverpool last time out. Then its first vs. second: Leicester City host Manchester United (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) at the King Power Stadium. Can the Foxes, and Jamie Vardy, keep their incredible run going?
[ WATCH: Premier League via Live Extra ]
On Sunday there’s a triple header of games with a massive London derby at White Hart Lane starting things off as Tottenham host Chelsea (Watch live, 7 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra). Can Chelsea end Spurs’ 12-game unbeaten streak and continue their resurgence in a big way? Next up on Sunday, West Ham host West Brom at Upton Park (Watch live, 9:05 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra) in what is sure to be a rambunctious encounter between two teams who’ve fared well so far this season.
Week 14 comes to a close later on Sunday with Liverpool welcoming Swansea City (Watch live, 11:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) to Anfield, Jurgen Klopp seems to have found his best side and has key players returning from injury, while Garry Monk‘s Swans are struggling for form heading into this clash.
You can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports Live Extra and theNBC Sports Live Extra App.
If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here. They are available soon after the final whistle, but rights limit us to a certain number each week. Looking for game highlights? Try this. Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days. Enjoy.
FULL TV SCHEDULE
10 a.m. ET: Manchester City vs. Southampton – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Sunderland vs. Stoke City – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Crystal Palace vs. Newcastle United – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Aston Villa vs. Watford – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Bournemouth vs. Everton – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Leicester City vs. Manchester United – NBC [STREAM]
7 a.m. ET: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea – USA [STREAM]
9:05 a.m. ET: West Ham vs. West Brom – USA [STREAM]
11:15 a.m. ET: Liverpool vs. Swansea City – NBCSN [STREAM]
11:15 a.m. ET: Norwich Ciy vs. Arsenal – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
With a tumultuous 2015 in the books for the U.S. national team, head coach and technical director of U.S. Soccer Jurgen Klinsmann has been reflecting on the past 12 months.
[ VIDEO: Foxes, United title battle? ]
In an interview posted by U.S. Soccer on their website, Klinsmann, 51, spoke about a variety of topics but a few things stuck out.
The German coach had high praise for Darlington Nagbe who played in both of the USA’s World Cup qualifier in November with the Portland Timbers midfielder finally getting his U.S. citizenship.
Klinsmann also expressed concerns over both full back positions, is more than happy with four points from the USMNT’s opening two 2018 World Cup qualifiers and challenged the youngsters in his squad to battle for starting spots internationally and reach the highest level possible in club play.
[ MORE: Bender, Pato to Arsenal? ]
Below are a few snippets we’ve selected from Klinsmann’s chat. Overall, 2015 has been one that has had highs (beating Germany and the Netherlands away from home in friendlies) but there have been plenty of lows with the Gold Cup failure and the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico. Its also been a tough year for Klinsmann as many are calling for his departure as USMNT boss but U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati is sticking by his man.
What have your impressions of the U.S. national team in 2015 been? Are you hopeful for 2016 as World Cup qualifying continues and the Copa America Centenario takes place in the U.S.?
Here’s what Klinsmann had to say on a few selected topics from U.S. Soccer…
The challenge to younger players has been to push the established guys for starting spots. What is the importance of that process and how has it gone within the team?
JK: “When asking the younger players to step up and challenge the experienced ones, you want them to challenge themselves on a higher level, whether it’s going to the highest club level as quickly as you can and become a starter there and make your statement, like DeAndre Yedlin does now at Sunderland. In camp, we want them to fight harder to push established players for the spots, because if you want to steal the spot, you have to do more to try and move him out. This is an interesting process between two World Cups. Taking the example of Jones, he’s not ready to give his spot up. He’s 34 years old, but he’s a rock. He’s in there every time it matters, he stands his man. He makes it clear to the younger players that he’s not giving up his spot. These kind of competitions are real important with the team.”
A lot of people had positive things to say about Darlington Nagbe. What did you learn about him from this camp?
JK: “We found a player that is really good handling the ball in both directions. He is responsible defensively, to always go behind the ball and to defend, and help out. When we go forward, he knows when to pass, when to dribble, when to keep things racing forward, and also when to take some risks in a certain moment. He has a change of pace in one-on-one situations when he goes at defensive midfielders. He has the confidence to get past them and to get closer to the box. Darlington is a real nice option now going forward. He had to wait a long time, and we’ve been waiting for him as well, but it’s a great fit and we are glad to have him on board.”
In these last two games you also expanded the team’s options at key positions, including both fullback spots. What type of flexibility does this provide moving forward?
JK: “2015 made it clear that we struggled in a couple of areas. The most difficult area for us is the fullback positions. We moved the center backs to the fullback position. We moved Fabian Johnson from left back to right back, which is the position he played in the World Cup – and was probably one of the best right backs in the World Cup in Brazil last year. But he ended up in his club team in Germany playing left winger. So moving him constantly from left winger to left back or to right back, it doesn’t really help him. And for us, one question remains: how do we fill in those left back and right back positons with a high-quality solution? In the last games, we had Tim Ream helping us out as a left back. He plays center back in Fulham. We had Michael Orozco out as a right back, which he did tremendously well, but he’s playing center back for Tijuana. Hopefully in 2016 it will help us develop younger players in the fullback positions. For us, the next important team to look at is the Olympic team and see what Andi Herzog brings through that team in order to develop a younger player into that full back position for the senior team.”
Going into Port of Spain, Trinidad to face the Soca Warriors was a tough match. Are you pleased with how the team dealt with the challenges of that game on the road?
JK: “I think with the game in Trinidad & Tobago, we all knew it was going to be a tricky one. It’s a good team that proved that in the Gold Cup. And away from home, there’s a rule: don’t lose. At least get one point and don’t give the home team the three points. I think we achieved that. Did we want to win both games? Yes, it would have been nice to have six points now, but four points is ideal going into the two games now with Guatemala. Winning those two games would mean that we are qualified for the next round, so our big goal for March is going to Guatemala and get three points right away, at home in Columbus, one of our favorite places to go, and then look forward to the next round.”
How do you view the midfield partnership between Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones?
JK: “It’s real critical between Bradley and Jones, like all the fans know, they are important to our team. These two always coordinate themselves on the field. They are experienced and know what to do in specific situations. We constantly go over their tactical approach in a game because they can play many different ways. Now you can complement a Jermaine Jones or a Michael Bradley with a more defensive midfielder, like a Kyle Beckerman, or you can complement them with more offensive midfielders, like a Darlington Nagbe or Mix Diskerud. But the heart of this team is always in the center of the park, which is Bradley and Jones.”
What did you see from Jozy Altidore throughout 2015?
JK: “2015 for Jozy Altidore has been a transition year, but it has become a year where he has gotten stronger toward the end. He had some injury issues. He had some fitness issues in the beginning of the year. We had the episode in the Gold Cup where he was not in the shape where he needed to be. Toward July, August and September he got more into a flow. He started to score goals for Toronto and he got stronger for the National Team, as well. This is a very positive sign for us to have Altidore playing well. We plan to bring him into a very busy 2016 with the biggest highlight of Copa America next June.”