Loud Booing, Bridge of Lies & South African Fix

What to do if you’re a Canadian soccer fan.

It is very simple.

Cheer the players: Boo the soccer officials.

Anytime a FIFA official walks on the pitch or addresses the crowd: boo and jeer them.

For good measure, make signs that denounce them.

At these international events, FIFA officials’ usual trick is to make sure they are only seen on the pitches accompanied by fashion models or small children in costumes. Ignore the models, respect the children, but jeer the FIFA officials.

Remember, this is an organization that now has to consider which executives it can send to Canada, in case they get extradited to the Untied States to face criminal charges. This is not what sport is supposed to be about.

Remember this is an organization whose second-in-command Jerome Valcke said in Brazil in 2013, “Less democracy is sometimes better for organizing a World Cup.”

Show FIFA officials what people in a democracy think of their values.

The world is watching.

Your booing will send a signal around the world.

Keep jeering, booing, chanting for a long time. This way the television broadcasts around the world cannot delay their signal until the protests stop.

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The Bridge of Lies?

 

Over at Sport Accord, the controversial Russian president Marius L. Vizer has resigned.

Vizer always was a whirling tempest. He tried to directly challenge the power of the IOC and establish an alternate sporting calendar. He failed after a dramatic meeting in Sochi (Dramatic by sports conference terms. Meaning Vizer actually said what he meant. This is highly unusual in those snooze festivals).

His actual resignation letter is bizarre. At one point, he goes on about the ‘Bridge of Lies’ – the romantic bridge in Paris where couples seal their love with a kiss and padlock.

Not sure what it says about Vizer’s love-life but it is up there with Blatter’s rambling speech at the end of the FIFA conference (my favorite bit was where he was going on about “FIFA is offshore at the moment”. There was a gasp in the audience as some of the delegates seemed to think, “Yes, we are offshore. That is where most of our money is kept!”) However, it was the usual Blatter nonsense that continued along the lines of FIFA needed to be directed back into a safe harbour.

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The Real Reason Why the South Africans Stopped the Investigation?

Some points about the FBI indictment.

  1. It was extraordinary thorough. There were twenty-five covert sources (co-conspirators) mentioned in the documents. Several of them had already pleaded guilty – Chuck Blazer, etc. There are numbered accounts, bank details, etc. This is robust stuff.

  1. It also showed the existence of an entire, parallel system within the marketing, television rights of FIFA. There is the public face and then there seems to a real, system where the decisions are actually made. Fascinating stuff, as the document takes it out of conjecture and allegations and into a clear, traceable system.

  1. Now I understand why the South Africans were so keen to shut down the match-fixing investigation.

To recap.

Last year, I did a story for the New York Times about fixing just before the 2010 World Cup. FIFA had investigated the issue for two-days then handed the file to the South Africans. In that brief time they had discovered that someone inside the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) had been working with the fixers.

The South African President directly ordered the investigation shut down. I could never understand why they had done that. It seemed a huge over-reach to protect an official in SAFA.

The South African government had also sent their sports minister to Zurich, to meet with FIFA and tell them that the only thing that would be investigated would be the match-fixing scandal in 2010. Nothing else was to be on the table.

Now comes this extraordinary paragraph from the FBI indictment:

At one point, [Jack] WARNER also directed Co-Conspirator #14 to fly to Paris, France and accept a briefcase containing bundles of U.S. currency in $10,000 stacks in a hotel room from Co-Conspirator #15, a high- ranking South African bid committee official.

Hours after arriving in Paris, Co-Conspirator #14 boarded a return flight and carried the briefcase back to Trinidad and Tobago, where Co- Conspirator #14 provided it to WARNER.

Get it?

The FBI has not only the person who accepted the money, but also the South African bid official who paid the money, talking to them.

This is bad.  This is really bad for the South Africans. If true, it means that Africa’s first world cup was gained by corruption and marred by serious match-fixing in the preparation.

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