Tag: Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter, FIFA president

FIFA donates 48 scandalous watches to non-profit organization

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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

FIFA ethics committee seeks lifetime ban against Platini; Blatter refuses comment

FIFA President Sepp Blatter (R) gestures next to UEFA President Michel Platini prior to the opening ceremony of the 57th congress of the World football's governing body 30 May 2007 in Zurich.  AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Forget 90 days, and also banish 7 years from your mind. What FIFA wants to do to Michel Platini would last quite a bit longer.

The suspended UEFA president will be banned from soccer for life if FIFA’s ethics committee gets its way.

[ MORE: Blatter was “close to dying” ]

Platini’s legal team is up-in-arms over the threat, which comes after the Frenchman picked up nearly $2 million from disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

As of post time, Platini is still seeking the FIFA presidential chair when his 90-day suspension is completed.

From Sky Sports:

Platini’s lawyer Thibaud d’Ales described FIFA’s life ban demand as a “scandal” and “excessive”.

Blatter’s representatives refused to comment on whether the same request has been made against the Swiss official.

The report did not say whether Blatter’s representatives did grimace, wink, and tug on the collars of their shirts while making their statement.

If either of these men end up running FIFA, something has gone horribly awry. For Platini, it’s the cost of doing business with Blatter.

Report: Blatter was “close to dying”, now faces seven-year suspension

Germany v Portugal: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images
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That invincibility cloak Sepp Blatter seems to think he owns? It’s apparently part of the emperor’s new clothes.

The disgraced FIFA president is serving a 90-day suspension for a payment to UEFA boss Michel Platini, who is suspended for the same period of time.

[ MORE: Palace chairman hoping for American sale by Christmas ]

And while Blatter is also under investigation by the FBI and could face a long time in, well, an American prison, he’s also staring down a long suspension from his beloved football.

From the BBC:

Fifa’s ethics investigatory committee is likely to have pushed for a minimum seven-year ban for both Blatter and Platini.

This is based on the similar length of time that Harold Mayne Nicholls – the man who wrote the technical inspection reports for 2018 and 2022 World Cup candidate nations – received for breaching “conflict of interest” rules.

Blatter’s had more serious concerns lately, having suffered through a health scare, one he thought could cost him his life:

“I was between the angels who were singing and the devil who was lighting the fire, but it was the angels who sang,” said Blatter.

“I was close to dying. At some stage the body says ‘no, enough is enough’.”

Right when you were feeling sympathy for the man, he goes and deems himself a John Milton for the soccer set.

Is that cold? Probably, and that’s because at some point covering the Blatter saga starts to feel like scenes with your least favorite character in your favorite TV show. Stay healthy, Mr. Blatter, and stay away.

FIFA rejects Blatter, Platini appeals against 90-day bans

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ZURICH (AP) Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have lost their appeals against their 90-day bans for financial wrongdoing.

[ MORE: Behind-the-scenes at Wembley ]  

The provisional bans prevent Blatter from working as FIFA president and stop UEFA President Platini from campaigning for the FIFA election on Feb. 26.

Their appeals were rejected Wednesday by FIFA’s appeals committee.

The two can file further appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), with numerous reports stating that Platini intends to appeal via CAS.

[ MORE: France react to “special” night

The bans were imposed last month by FIFA’s ethics committee pending full investigations into a $2 million payment Blatter approved for Platini in 2011 as backdated salary.

Blatter and Platini are expected to appear before FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eckert in December.

Switzerland’s attorney general has also opened criminal proceedings against Blatter and questioned Platini for suspected criminal mismanagement of FIFA money.

No pay, less power: Bahraini sheikh’s FIFA presidency pitch

Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa
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MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) A Bahraini sheikh is going for simplicity and fan-appeal with headline pledges to transform a discredited FIFA: Relinquish much of the power Sepp Blatter built up over 17 years at FIFA and take no salary.

Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa was a late, seemingly reluctant candidate to lead FIFA’s recovery from a corruption crisis that is likely to see fresh revelations of wrongdoing emerging long after election day in February.

[ FOLLOW: All the latest FIFA news ]

“I don’t want too much power with the president – the power has to be shared,” Sheikh Salman said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I believe in doing things in a different way, not being centralized where the president has to do every detail in running the business.”

That means taking no money for being the face of FIFA.

“I don’t want to be an executive president,” the sheikh said. “And if I’m not an executive president I don’t see how I do deserve to be paid.”

Rather than a bitter election fight until Feb. 26, the sheikh hopes there is a smooth succession, with the five candidates currently vying to run football whittled down before election day.

“I’d like to see most of the continents agreeing on a single candidate but we have to work for this in the next few weeks,” the sheikh said during an hour-long interview in the Bahraini capital Manama.

[ MORE: Blatter in hospital after “small breakdown” ]

Had it not been for Michel Platini injudiciously claiming 2 million Swiss francs ($2 million) from FIFA four years ago, this Manchester United-supporting member of Bahrain’s royal family would not now be a front-runner to become the first Arab leader of FIFA.

Having been among Platini’s early campaign champions, Sheikh Salman entered the race once it became clear the UEFA president’s suspension over that 2011 payment made the election outcome far more uncertain. The Asian Football Confederation president would not have wanted Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan to have a clear path to the presidency.

The decision to stand was effectively a toss-up between Sheikh Salman and fellow FIFA executive committee member Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti who built his powerbase through the Olympic movement.

“We felt after Michel’s ban we felt one of us has to go,” Sheikh Salman said. “And I think that he looks at it as (a job for) the president of a confederation … it wasn’t a difficult choice between us.”

Platini is out of contention while awaiting the full verdict from FIFA’s ethics judge which could result in a long ban for the former France captain.

“I think damage has been done,” Sheikh Salman said. “But he has the right as well to defend himself. We cannot judge.”

The sheikh has already faced the judgment of many. With little name recognition profile among football fans outside the Asian region he has led for barely two years, his international spotlight usually comes when challenged on human rights abuse allegations he denounced as lies.

[ MORE: Platini: “I am the most able to run world football” ]

Despite complaints against his candidacy from rights groups, the sheikh was last week approved as a candidate by FIFA’s election watchdog alongside four other men: Prince Ali, UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino, former FIFA official Jerome Champagne and apartheid-era former Robben Island prisoner Tokyo Sexwale.

How many names are on the ballot paper in Zurich in February could depend on whether Platini defies expectations and is cleared before election day.

“If he comes back and he still wants to run, I think we would have to sit together … and assess the situation,” Sheikh Salman said. “I am sure there will be an agreement. At the end of the day we all need to support each other … (and) come with a compromise to hopefully have a good solution for everybody.”

Whether that agreement could include the 49-year-old sheikh quitting the campaign is unclear.

“Anything is a possibility if it’s for the good of the cause,” he said. “But I didn’t go in and commit myself to give a full presumption I might withdraw. I’m in to go for the election.”

The sheikh had expected to gain Europe’s support until UEFA surprisingly endorsed Infantino on candidate deadline-day last month. Infantino, who will stand aside for Platini if his boss his cleared before election day, has been touted for a potential role running the FIFA administration under a Sheikh Salman presidency.

“I’d like to feel like we are working together, not against each other – working for one cause to make that change,” the sheikh said. “We have to sit and talk and come to a solution of what’s best.”

A Salman presidency would look very different from Blatter’s reign, potentially blander in terms of public statements. Expect fewer rash pronouncements on changes to the game and awkward asides in speeches.

[ MORE: Blatter: “I hope to be back as FIFA president” ]

The sheikh is yet to produce his manifesto, but said he would consult the confederations before emulating Infantino and pledging to expand the World Cup by eight teams to 40. Discussing whether the use of technology should be expanded beyond ruling on disputed goals, the sheikh said: “The simple it is the better it is.”

If elected until 2019, the sheikh would have to grapple with the impact of Russia hosting the 2018 World Cup. Beyond ongoing geo-political concerns, Moscow has faced renewed accusations about the probity of its bid since Blatter suggested there was a backroom deal to award the showpiece to Russia for the first time.

“With any vote regarding a World Cup probably the ExCo will talk to say `Yes – how do you feel this and that?”‘ said the sheikh, who was not on the executive committee at the time of the 2010 vote. “Definitely it’s not rigged. You share your views … that doesn’t mean you already made an agreement.”

The agreements that will be a priority for the next FIFA president are with sponsors. Only seven of 14 available positions in FIFA’s top two commercial categories have been filled, with Dubai-based airline Emirates and Sony among those sponsors yet to be replaced.

“Once people see there is stability and there is a will to do things in the right way I think they will come back,” the sheik said.

“There is no place for, you know, hiding issues away from the public or away from our members.”