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  • Soccer During War

    Soccer During War: Scenes From A Europa League Match In Ukraine
    Scott Keyes Posted on May 19, 2015 at 10:11 am

    KYIV, UKRAINE — In Kyiv, there’s a new four-letter word: “Putin.”

    “Putin khuilo!” fans around me shouted frequently and emphatically. “Putin is a dickhead!”

    Though no longer a feature of most front pages around the globe, outrage over the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine is omnipresent in the capital city. Last Thursday’s Europa League soccer match was a chance for tens of thousands of Ukrainians to vent their frustrations against a warring neighbor and a world with attention spans too short and diplomatic ties too complex to do much about it.

    I shouldn’t have been at the game. I was in Kyiv, and the Ukrainian side looking for its first Europa League (the continental competition, formerly the UEFA Cup) championship, FC Dnipro, usually plays its home games out east in Dnipropetrovsk. Though that city hasn’t seen much unrest, it’s about 200 miles from where MH17 was shot out of the sky last July. Now, European soccer authorities prefer they play “home” games in Kyiv instead.

    But following a 1-1 draw on the road against Napoli, an Italian club, the week before, the two sides met at Olympic Stadium in Kyiv amid pouring rain. Dnipro needed a win or 0-0 draw to advance.

    It’s difficult to do justice to the energy that pulses through the crowd at European soccer games without resorting to dull metaphors about electricity or the obscenity principle. How can words explain the shrill harp of 70,000 fans expressing hatred for their opponents not by booing, but by whistling? How can dots on a screen carry the tune of the crowd singing songs, some passed down for generations and others created in light of recent conflict, straining for more home field advantage? Add to the mix centuries of war and famine and invasion and toil, instant kinship between a stadium’s worth of brothers and sisters, a chance for a major championship, and oh so much alcohol. It’s no wonder officials kept two sections of the stadium, one on either side of the Napoli fans, empty.

    There is a storied history of people using soccer games as venues for political protest under Soviet rule. (Of course, this phenomenon is not restricted to eastern Europe; just ask Barcelona fans during the Franco era.) That tradition lives on today in Ukraine. Those looking to sports as an escape from the conflict would find none at the match.

    For as many Dnipro banners as were in the crowd, there were far more Ukrainian flags, many with patriotic slogans that were popular during last year’s Maidan protests like “Glory to Ukraine, Glory to the heroes” or “Ukraine above all” emblazoned atop.

    “Hey hey, who’s not jumping? That person is Putin!” the crowd began chanting a few minutes after the game began. I was in the upper deck, not the area for diehard club supporters. Surely my section was the more relaxed types just there to enjoy the game, I assumed. (Wrongly.) Within five seconds, every single person in my section was on their feet. For the next 90 minutes, by far the most reliable way to get fans up and jumping was for someone to begin this chant, or its cousin, “Hey hey, who’s not jumping? That person is from Moscow!”

    Halftime arrived with the score still knotted at 0-0. Popular revolutionary songs like “Hymn of Maidan” and “Pray for Ukraine” blared overhead as fans milled about. I spoke with one fan, Dmitry, about the crowd. He said that things were actually a bit calmer nowadays than they’d been a few months ago. “During the summertime, one person would dress up like Putin in the fan section and people would fake beat him up,” he said.

    Like sporting events in the U.S., there was a militaristic overtone as well. The red-and-black Ukrainian Insurgent Army flag was prevalent among Dnipro fans. But the feeling here was less one of pride than of desperation. The war is dragging on, after all, and it’s no secret that allies are not rushing to get militarily involved. Plus the immediate indignity of playing your home games in the stadium of a rival, Dynamo Kyiv. How would Yankees fans take to hosting games in Fenway?

    Not long after the second half began, Dnipro launched a counterattack and slotted home the game’s first goal. The crowd went bananas. A rainbow of flares erupted as 70,000-strong roared. The inebriated man sitting to my left gave me a hug strong and sincere enough to make me feel as though I were the goalscorer. Smoke wafted up from the diehard supporters’ section, and by the time the referee resumed play, we could barely see the match through the thick haze.

    Shouts of “Glory to Kievan Rus!” rang out for the rest of the match, a reference to the 9th century kingdom based in Kyiv that encompassed, among other areas, parts of Russia. These exclamations were invariably followed up with “Novorossiya suck dick!” referring to the breakaway region out east whose flag looks uncomfortably similar to the Confederate flag. Billboards plastered around the field asking fans for “Respect” did not have their desired effect. Perhaps if the signs had not been written in English they would have had more of an impact.

    When the whistle finally came, scores of fans rushed onto the field, rain and security guards be damned. Players posed for pictures with elated fans. Dnipro defender Artem Fedetskyi dedicated the win to the Ukrainian army. “This victory is for our soldiers, who now defend us, our land,” he said. “Praise them, praise our heroes.” Dnipro’s win means they will move on to face Sevilla in the Europa League championship on May 27th.

    We streamed towards the exit. Trios of soldiers, members of the right-wing (and even neo-Nazi) Azov Battalion militia who are fighting on the frontlines against pro-Russian separatists, were standing near the exits. The militia wasn’t an interloper at the game; Dnipro supporters had unfurled a massive Azov tifo banner at halftime, and the battalion’s emblem was plastered on flags and shirts around the stadium. The soldiers held out donation bins asking fans to support the war effort.

    They were overflowing.
    Soccer During War: Scenes From A Europa League Match In Ukraine | ThinkProgress

    æ, !

    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

  • #2
    I think the national spirit is great, but the people have still not changed. Don't know who started what, doesn't really matter. There was no need for a few Dnipro fans to throw things at the Napoli fans, even if they started it. Though the crowd responded well, gives you hope.



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    • #3
      Russia plans to use prison labor for 2018 World Cup
      The Associated Press JAMES ELLINGWORTH May 25th 2015 5:29PM

      MOSCOW (AP) — Russian authorities want to use prison labor to drive down the costs of holding the 2018 World Cup.

      The Russian prison service is backing a bid by Alexander Khinshtein, a lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party, to allow prisoners to be taken from their camps to work at factories, with a focus on driving down the costs of building materials for World Cup projects.

      "It'll help in the sense that there will be the opportunity to acquire building materials for a lower price, lower than there is currently on the market," Khinshtein told The Associated Press. "And apart from that it'll make it possible to get prisoners into work, which is very positive."

      Russian prison labor schemes have faced allegations that prisoners are routinely underpaid or forced to work long hours. In 2013, the then-imprisoned ***** Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova went on hunger strike in protest at working conditions in her prison camp.

      Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service has been working with Khinshtein to draw up the proposals, said the lawmaker, adding that they will be submitted to parliament soon.

      The service declined to comment on the plan when contacted by the AP on Monday, but deputy director Alexander Rudy told the Kommersant business newspaper that his agency was keen to use prisoners for "tasks that, let's say, wouldn't appeal to the ordinary citizen."

      Workers' rights are a hot-button issue for World Cup organizer FIFA, which is under pressure over the high rate of deaths among migrant workers in 2022 host nation Qatar.

      When asked about the Russian plans to use prison labor, FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer told the AP: "We have not received any information on the below mentioned plans yet and as such cannot comment for the time being."

      Russia's move toward prison labor comes at a time when the World Cup budget of 637.6 billion rubles ($12.7 billion) is under pressure after the ruble dropped in value compared to last year, making imported materials more expensive. The ruble has recovered much of its lost value this year, but is still worth around a third less against the dollar than at the start of 2014, before international sanctions and a drop in the price of oil dented the Russian economy.

      Khinshtein said his plan to employ prisoners was "of course" an extension of the government's policy of so-called import replacement, under which Russian-made production is expanded to fill the gap left by costly imports.

      The workers would continue to live in their prison camps and would be transported to their place of work each day. A typical wage for a prisoner on such projects might be 15,000 rubles ($300) a month, Khinshtein said.

      There are no plans as yet to employ prisoners on World Cup stadium construction sites, he added.
      Russia plans to use prison labor for 2018 World Cup - AOL.com
      ==========================
      Uncle Vova is bringing back the gulags.

      æ, !

      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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      • #4
        Senate Hawks Want a FIFA President Who’s Less Into Russia
        Justine Drennan May 26, 2015 - 4:18 pm

        Americans may have come late to the soccer (football, properly speaking) craze that’s long gripped the rest of the world, but now that they’ve begun taking it up, they seem to care a lot about its politics.

        On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and John McCain urged the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, better known as FIFA, to withdraw its support for incumbent Sepp Blatter to serve a fifth term as the organization’s president. Their main complaint: Swiss-born Blatter’s support for Russia hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup, “despite Russia’s ongoing violations of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”

        Ahead of FIFA’s presidential elections on Friday, the Democrat from New Jersey and the Republican from Arizona write that “by allowing Russia to host the tournament, FIFA would offer an economic lifeline to the Putin regime in contravention of the multilateral sanctions that have been imposed by the international community.”

        “The next president of FIFA has a responsibility to ensure not only a safe and successful 2018 World Cup, but the endurance of the FIFA mission that claims to promote football ‘globally in the light of its unifying, educational, cultural, and humanitarian values,’” the senators write. “We strongly encourage you to elect a president who will uphold these values and work to deny the Putin regime the privilege of hosting the 2018 World Cup.

        There are plenty of reasons to oppose Sepp Blatter’s fifth term for president, from his support of Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup despite its rampant abuses of workers to allegations of FIFA corruption in awarding the tournament’s location.

        But it’s not surprising that well-known foreign-policy hawks McCain and Menendez are especially riled up Sepp’s apparent acquiescence to Russia hosting the World Cup. McCain has been vocal about his support for Ukraine’s anti-Russia movement since its birth, while Menendez’s push for sanctions against Russia last year got him, along with McCain and a handful of other lawmakers, banned from visiting the country. Both Senators previously signed a similar letter of protest to Blatter himself in April.

        That letter didn’t seem to make much of an impression, and it’s far from sure that this one will score any of its goals, either.
        Senate Hawks Want a FIFA President Who’s Less Into Russia | Foreign Policy

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        • #5
          NT TIMES Soccer
          FIFA Officials Arrested on Corruption Charges;
          Sepp Blatter Isn’t Among Them
          MATT APUZZO, MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT, WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM & SAM BORDENMAY 27, 2015

          ZURICH — Swiss authorities conducted an extraordinary early-morning operation here Wednesday to arrest several top soccer officials and extradite them to the United States on federal corruption charges.

          As leaders of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, gathered for their annual meeting, more than a dozen plain-clothed Swiss law enforcement officials arrived unannounced at the Baur au Lac hotel, an elegant five-star property with views of the Alps and Lake Zurich. They went to the front desk to get room numbers and then proceeded upstairs.

          The arrests were carried out peacefully. One FIFA official, Eduardo Li of Costa Rica, was led by the authorities from his room to a side-door exit of the hotel. He was allowed to bring his luggage, which was adorned with FIFA logos.

          The charges, backed by an F.B.I. investigation, allege widespread corruption in FIFA over the past two decades, involving bids for World Cups as well as marketing and broadcast deals.

          Several hours after the soccer officials were apprehended at the hotel, Swiss authorities said they had opened criminal cases related to the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups — incidents that, more than any others, encapsulated FIFA’s unusual power dynamic. “In the course of said proceedings,” the Swiss officials said, “electronic data and documents were seized today at FIFA’s head office in Zurich.”

          The arrests were a startling blow to FIFA, a multibillion-dollar organization that governs the world’s most popular sport but has been plagued by accusations of bribery for decades.

          The inquiry is also a major threat to Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s longtime president who is generally recognized as the most powerful person in sports, though he was not charged. Blatter has for years acted as a de facto head of state. Politicians, star players, national soccer officials and global corporations that want their brands attached to the sport have long genuflected before him.

          An election, seemingly pre-ordained to give Mr. Blatter a fifth term as president, is scheduled for Friday. A FIFA spokesman insisted at the news conference that Mr. Blatter was not involved in any alleged wrongdoing and that the election would go ahead as planned.

          The Department of Justice indictment names 14 people on charges including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. In addition to senior soccer officials, the indictment also named sports-marketing executives from the United States and South America who are accused of paying more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for media deals associated with major soccer tournaments.

          The soccer officials charged are Mr. Li, Jeffrey Webb, Eugenio Figueredo, Jack Warner, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Rafael Esquivel, José Maria Marin and Nicolás Leoz.

          The FIFA spokesman said that the case was a welcomed opportunity to clean up the organization, and that the group would cooperate with all inquiries.

          Charges were also made against the sports-marketing executives Alejandro Burzaco, Aaron Davidson, Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis. Authorities also charged José Margulies as an intermediary who facilitated illegal payments.

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          Continue reading the main story

          “The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” said United States Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.

          United States officials also revealed that four people, including the former FIFA executive Chuck Blazer, and two sports marketing companies had entered guilty pleas. Blazer forfeited $1.9 million when he entered his guilty plea in 2013, and agreed to make a second payment at sentencing.

          The case is the most significant yet for Ms. Lynch, who took office last month. She previously served as the United States attorney in Brooklyn, where she supervised the FIFA investigation. Ms. Lynch and F.B.I. Director James Comey were scheduled to hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning in Brooklyn.

          With more than $1.5 billion in reserves, FIFA is as much a global financial conglomerate as a sports organization. With countries around the world competing aggressively to win the bid to host the World Cup, Mr. Blatter has commanded the fealty of anyone who wanted a piece of that revenue stream. He and FIFA have weathered corruption controversies in the past, but none involved charges of federal crimes in United States court.

          United States law gives the Justice Department wide authority to bring cases against foreign nationals living abroad, an authority that prosecutors have used repeatedly in international terrorism cases. Those cases can hinge on the slightest connection to the United States, like the use of an American bank or Internet service provider.

          Switzerland’s treaty with the United States is unusual in that it gives Swiss authorities the power to refuse extradition for tax crimes, but on matters of general criminal law, the Swiss have agreed to turn people over for prosecution in American courts.

          Critics of FIFA point to the lack of transparency regarding executive salaries and resource allocations for an organization that, by its own admission, had revenue of $5.7 billion from 2011 to 2014. Policy decisions are also often taken without debate or explanation, and a small group of officials — known as the executive committee — operates with outsize power. FIFA has for years functioned with little oversight and even less transparency. Alexandra Wrage, a governance consultant who once unsuccessfully attempted to help overhaul FIFA’s methods, famously labeled the organization “byzantine and impenetrable.”

          Law enforcement officials said much of the inquiry involves Concacaf, one of the six regional confederations that compose FIFA. Concacaf — which stands for Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football — includes major countries like the United States and Mexico, and also tiny ones like Barbados and Montserrat.

          According to the indictment, several international soccer events were tainted by bribes and kickbacks involving media and marketing rights: World Cup qualifiers in the Concacaf region; the Gold Cup, a regional championship tournament; the Concacaf Champions League; the Copa América; and the ASouth American club championship, the Copa Libertadores. The indictment also claims that bribes and kickbacks were found in connection with the selection of the host country for the 2010 World Cup.

          Concacaf was led from 1990 to 2011 by Mr. Warner, the longtime head of Trinidad & Tobago’s federation. A key powerbroker in FIFA’s governing executive committee, Mr. Warner had been dogged by accusations of corruption. He was accused of illegally profiting from the resale of tickets to the 2006 World Cup, and of withholding the bonuses of the Trinidad players who participated in that tournament.

          Mr. Warner resigned his positions in FIFA, Concacaf and his national association in 2011 amid mounting evidence that he had been part of an attempt to buy the votes of Caribbean federation officials in the 2011 FIFA presidential election. A 2013 Concacaf report also found that he had received tens of millions of dollars in misappropriated funds.

          But according to the rules of FIFA at the time, Mr. Warner’s resignation led to the immediate closure of all ethics committee cases against him. “The presumption of innocence is maintained,” FIFA said in a short statement announcing his departure.

          Many observers found the bid process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to be flawed from the start: the decision to award two tournaments at once, critics said, would invite vote-trading and other inducements. Since only the 24 members of the executive committee would decide on the hosts, persuading even a few of them might be enough to swing the vote.

          Even before the vote took place, two committee members — Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Reynald Temarii of Tahiti — were suspended after an investigation by The Sunday Times caught both men on tape asking for payments in exchange for their support. It was later revealed by England’s bid chief that four ExCo members had solicited bribes from him for their votes; one asked for $2.5 million, while another, Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay, requested a knighthood.

          complete read:
          http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/28/sp...them.html?_r=0

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          • #6
            Football - Polishing up a tarnished trophy
            The arrest and indictment of FIFA officials may be a turning-point for football’s scandal-hit governing body
            May 30th 2015 THE ECONOMIST

            SPORT is riddled with graft, from the bungs given to officials who help hand tournaments to undeserving countries, to the betting syndicates that rake in ill-gotten gains from match-fixing with help from unscrupulous players. Football’s world governing body, FIFA, more than any other sports organisation, has become a global symbol of this pervasive corruption.

            It has been beset by scandal in recent years, connected to, among other things, the distribution of global marketing rights and the awarding to Russia and Qatar of the rights to stage the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals respectively. Numerous investigations have been held, and several reports penned. But they have failed to stop the rot at the Zurich-based organisation.

            That may change after the events of May 27th. Swiss police, at the request of American prosecutors, swooped on a Zurich hotel and arrested seven of the organisation’s officials on suspicion of receiving bribes totalling more than $100m. Among those marched off was a FIFA vice-president, Jeffrey Webb, a Caymanian who heads CONCACAF, the bit of FIFA that oversees North and Central America and the Caribbean—the last of which regions has been at the centre of many palm-greasing allegations over the years. Also arrested were officials from Uruguay, Brazil and Costa Rica, one of whom had been due to join FIFA’s executive committee this week.

            America’s FBI has been probing FIFA’s shenanigans for at least four years. Though no football superpower, the United States would have jurisdiction over any transactions that flowed through its financial system, were paid in dollars or were planned on American soil. Switzerland won’t extradite its own citizens but is willing to send foreigners, if certain conditions are met.

            The biggest kerfuffles at FIFA have concerned the circumstances surrounding its awarding of the next two sets of finals. But the American investigation stretches back much further. In an indictment unsealed on the day of the arrests, the United States charged nine FIFA officials (including the seven arrested in Zurich) and five others with racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering that allegedly began almost a quarter of a century ago. Some of the allegations relate to the collapse in 2001 of ISL, a marketing agency affiliated with FIFA. Marketing executives allegedly paid over $150m in bribes to obtain media and marketing rights to tournaments.

            Besides Mr Webb, those charged included Jack Warner, his Trinidadian predecessor. American officials said four of the accused had already pleaded guilty (including Mr Warner’s sons). Mr Warner has consistently dismissed allegations against him as “unholy” and “damn foolishness”. CONCACAF’s offices in Miami were also raided this week. The case was bolstered by the co-operation of a former FIFA official, Chuck Blazer, who wore a wire.

            America’s actions should encourage other countries to probe FIFA more assiduously. Tellingly, in a separate case, Swiss law enforcers this week raided FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, seized electronic records and said they had opened criminal proceedings against “persons unknown” on suspicion of money-laundering and other possible offences in connection with the 2018 and 2022 competitions. Ten FIFA members who participated in the voting, including Russia’s sports minister, are to be questioned.

            FIFA officials had been gathering at the Baur au Lac hotel for the organisation’s annual congress. In a vote on May 29th, after we went to press, they were to elect a president. The incumbent, Sepp Blatter (who was not among those arrested or accused) was the strong favourite to clinch a fifth term in charge, thanks to strong support from African and Asian members. The only other contender is Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, others having pulled out in recent weeks, citing an atmosphere of autocracy. (Mr Blatter was once dubbed “the most successful non-homicidal dictator of the past century”.)

            At a hurriedly convened press conference, a FIFA spokesman insisted that the election would go ahead. The raids were, he suggested, somewhat implausibly, part of FIFA’s reform process. UEFA, European football’s umbrella organisation, called for the vote to be postponed and talked of boycotting it if it were not. If it went ahead, and Mr Blatter were to win, more international opprobrium would surely be heaped on FIFA’s tin-eared leaders. The 79-year-old may not have been charged with anything, but he has presided over the darkest chapter of FIFA’s chequered history.

            The big question for FIFA in the short term, apart from who will run it, is whether it can be made to reconsider awarding the next World Cup finals to Russia and Qatar. It should, though it looks unlikely to. The American case does not focus on the voting for those tournaments. Even if the Swiss probe, which does, unearths something, it would have to be highly damning for the 2018 bidding to be reopened; an alternative host would be hard-pressed to get ready in three years. Qatar is more vulnerable, but having survived a variety of scandals already, including one over its treatment of migrant workers, it may yet survive this one.

            The longer-term question is what this week’s events mean for reform of FIFA. Like most other international sports governing bodies, the organisation has a natural monopoly on its sport due to the daunting barriers to entry for any potential rival organisation. Football associations in rich countries might boycott its tournaments—there has been talk of this within the European federation—but then they would lose the riches that come with hosting international tournaments, including sponsorship deals. Associations in poor countries depend on FIFA’s handouts and are most vulnerable to bribes. (The alleged bribing in the Qatari vote was mostly directed at African delegates.)

            Switzerland has long benefited from the organisation’s presence on its soil—so FIFA still enjoys a favourable tax status and minimal regulation. On their past record, any extra oversight of FIFA by the Swiss authorities in the wake of the investigations may be modest.

            Some of the World Cup’s biggest sponsors expressed concern at how the scandals had “tarnished”, as Coca-Cola put it, the image of the tournament. Visa said that if FIFA failed to make changes, it would reassess its sponsorship. The best hope for reform may well come from the corporations that bankroll the World Cup, as they fear the taint will attach to them.

            Change can be effected, as the experience of the International Olympic Committee shows. In the 1990s it had a series of scandals, including one about gift-giving ahead of the 2002 Salt Lake City winter games. It has since improved governance with a series of measures, including expulsions of bad eggs, stricter bidding rules and term limits for committee members. FIFA has introduced some reforms, and a whistleblower hotline, but it remains murky and conflict-ridden.

            America receives plenty of flak for stretching the long arm of its law across the world. In this case, many of its critics will be grateful that it has lobbed a legal grenade into an organisation that has got away with too much for too long. Prince Ali called May 27th “a sad day for football”. It may yet be seen as a happy one—if the reverberations help to bring about a long-overdue clean-up at the world’s most notorious sports organisation. Polishing up a tarnished trophy | The Economist
            =================
            Blatter, a ex wedding singer, turned head lord of medieval fiefdom, has yet to be implicated.

            Putin ranting & raging. Once the Swiss track the exchange of money bags, Russia will surely lose the staging of World Cup 2018.

            æ, !

            Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

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            • #7
              Fifa corruption inquiry: Sepp Blatter defies calls to quit
              BBC 5/28/2015

              Fifa president Sepp Blatter has told an emergency meeting of football's governing body he will not quit, amid growing political pressure over a corruption scandal.

              Seven top Fifa officials were arrested in Zurich on Wednesday, among 14 people indicted by US prosecutors.

              UK PM David Cameron urged Mr Blatter to resign but Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed him for a fifth term.

              Fifa's congress has opened. The vote for president will go ahead on Friday.

              Michel Platini, the head of Uefa, the European football governing body, had asked Mr Blatter to resign after the crisis talks in Zurich, which involved heads of the six international confederations. The president refused.

              Mr Platini later said that if Mr Blatter were re-elected, Uefa might have to discuss its relations with Fifa.

              Key sponsors have expressed concern over twin corruption investigations by both the US and Swiss authorities.

              Uefa threat

              The emergency meeting was Mr Blatter's first appearance since the crisis began on Wednesday.

              He was not among the 14 people who were charged by the US authorities on Wednesday with racketeering, fraud and money laundering.

              At a Uefa news conference later, Mr Platini said he had asked Mr Blatter "as a friend" to resign, saying: "I have had enough - enough is enough, too much is too much.

              "I say these things with tears in my eyes. I don't like it this way. But there are just too many scandals."

              But the president told Mr Platini it was too late, as Fifa's congress was about to start. The opening ceremony has now begun in Zurich, with Mr Blatter in attendance.

              Uefa agreed at its meeting on Thursday to throw its weight behind Jordan's Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Mr Blatter's only challenger, in Friday's vote.

              Mr Platini said that if Mr Blatter won, Uefa could hold an extraordinary meeting in Berlin at the time of the Champions League final.

              When asked if this could include withdrawing from Fifa competitions, Mr Platini said: "We will raise all possibilities."

              Pressed on the possibility of a World Cup boycott, he said: "There may be proposals. I honestly don't wish that."



              Mr Platini said the other confederations had wanted the vote to go ahead "and let the best man win".

              The Confederation of African Football (Caf) said in a statement that it opposed any delay to the vote.

              Meanwhile, Britain's David Gill said he would not take up his post on Fifa's executive committee if Mr Blatter were re-elected.

              French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had earlier urged a delay in the vote, saying Fifa's current image was disastrous.

              Mr Putin, however, said the allegations against Fifa were a clear attempt by the US to stop Mr Blatter's re-election.

              Swiss investigation

              Fifa on Wednesday provisionally banned from football-related activity 11 of the 14 people charged in the US. On Thursday it added another, Aaron Davidson.

              Some of the 14 are accused of receiving bribes to influence the outcome of bids to stage football tournaments, such as the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the 2016 Copa America in the US.

              South African government officials have denied the claim.

              One of those indicted, Chuck Blazer, the former top American official at Fifa, has already pleaded guilty to four charges and has been a co-operating witness for the FBI since he quit football in 2013.

              In addition to Coca-Cola and Visa, major sponsors Adidas, McDonald's, Hyundai Motor, Budweiser and Gazprom are also pressing Fifa to take immediate action to restore its reputation.

              Swiss prosecutors plan to interview 10 Fifa executive committee members as part of a separate investigation into the bidding process for the World Cup tournaments in 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar.
              Fifa corruption inquiry: Sepp Blatter defies calls to quit - BBC News

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              • #8
                Revocation of Russian Federation’s hosting of the 2018 FIFA World Cup
                Posted on May 28th,2015 CANADIAN UKRAINIAN CONGRESS

                Revocation of Russian Federation’s hosting of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Ukrainian Canadian Congress

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                • #9

                  Friday, May 29, 2015 RADIO FREE EUROPE
                  Fear, Conspiracy, And Loathing As Russians React To FIFA Arrests

                  MOSCOW -- Before the Kremlin commented on the shocking legal drama unfolding over alleged activities at global soccer authority FIFA, the Russian Internet and other media lit up as Russians reacted to news of investigations that could cast a harsh light on Russia's successful bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

                  Swiss authorities on May 27 arrested senior soccer officials for alleged corruption in connection with a U.S. case targeting FIFA executives and launched their own criminal proceedings relating to the way the World Cups in 2018 and 2022 were awarded to Russia and Qatar.

                  From the droll to the pugnacious, Russian commentary blended jokes at the expense of Russia's World Cup bid, fears that Russia could lose its 2018 host status, the usual smattering of conspiracy theories, and a healthy dose of anti-Americanism.

                  The latter dovetailed with the comment that the Russian Foreign Ministry finally released in the evening, calling the arrests "the latest case of illegal extraterritorial application of American legislation."

                  "We again insistently call on Washington to stop trying to set itself up as a judge far outside its borders," Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said in the statement.

                  That message was echoed by a doctored photograph posted on Twitter, apparently by someone in Belarus, that showed two burly FBI agents wrestling a man made to look like FIFA President Sepp Blatter to the ground.

                  The official Russian comment came many hours after early morning trolls were on the prowl on Twitter, with several undersubscribed Russian-language accounts pumping out identical messages casting the investigation into FIFA as an anti-Russian conspiracy.

                  "The West is degenerating," said one tweeter. "The USA want to take the football World Cup away from Russia.":

                  By afternoon, Russia's widely read Sovietsky Sport publication was conducting a poll on its website, asking readers about possible conspiracies.

                  The survey asks if the real reason for the investigation is: a "conspiracy against Russia," an attempt to oust FIFA President Sepp Blatter, whose reelection bid was set to be decided on May 29, or an internal battle within FIFA.

                  Over at pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia, Valery Chukhry, the former head of FIFA in Moscow, said the "arrests in Zurich are in no way a coincidence. It was all planned beforehand" to coincide with Blatter's reelection effort.

                  Chukhry warned that the investigation could threaten Russia and Qatar's host status: "After all, all the independent investigations that have been conducted in the last two years linked to accusations by the English, have also touched Russia."

                  "Looks like that's it," wrote "Vsyo Plokho" (Everything Is Bad):

                  Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny wrote simply, "Oops," as it became clear the Swiss investigation would touch on Russia's 2018 championships:

                  INTERESTING & FUNNY - CONTINUE READ

                  additional excerpt:
                  An English-language parody account of Vladimir Putin alluded to how an inquiry in November into the awarding of the 2018 World Cup bid hit a dead-end after Russia said it had destroyed the computers it used for its bid and could not provide evidence.

                  Fear, Conspiracy, And Loathing As Russians React To FIFA Arrests

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                  • #10
                    20:37 29.05.2015 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
                    Blatter re-elected FIFA president for fifth term

                    Joseph Sepp Blatter of Switzerland has been re-elected president of the association football world governing body, FIFA, for his fifth term.

                    Blatter, 79, has headed the organization since 1998.

                    His rival, Prince Ali bin al-Hussain of Jordan, 39, withdrew from the election following the first round of the voting.
                    ==========================================
                    Will UEFA boycott any future World Cups, if Blatter doesn't step down? The European votes may not be enough to bring Blatter down, but the continent accounts for 14 of the top 20 FIFA teams. The prospect of a World Cup w/o countries like Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and England would attract few fans and fewer sponsors. Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Visa, Adidas, Budweiser and McDonald's have all expressed their concerns. They are currently discussing withdrawing their sponsorship. Mktng polls indicate 95% soccer fans are in agreement w/sponsor withdrawal.

                    Who will replace FIFA's 'tarnished' sponsors?

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                    • #11

                      Corruption in football - At last, a challenge to the impunity of FIFA
                      The arrest of officials should be the first stage in a thorough cleansing of a discredited organisation
                      May 30th 2015 THE ECONOMIST

                      FEW arrests can have provoked such Schadenfreude as those of seven senior officials of FIFA, football’s world governing body, early on May 27th at a swish Swiss hotel. The arrests are part of a wide-ranging investigation by America’s FBI into corruption at FIFA, dating back over two decades. The indictment from the Department of Justice named 14 people on charges including racketeering, wire fraud and paying bribes worth more than $150m. They are likely to face charges in a US federal court. As more people start talking in a bid to sauve qui peut, the investigation will with luck reach into every dark and dank corner of FIFA’s Zurich headquarters (see article).

                      American extraterritorial jurisdiction is often excessive in its zeal and overbearing in its methods, but in this instance it deserves the gratitude of football fans everywhere. The hope must be that FIFA’s impunity is at last brought to an end and with it the career of the ineffably complacent Sepp Blatter, its 79-year-old president, who was nonetheless expected to be re-elected for a fifth term after The Economist had gone to print.

                      The evidence of systemic corruption at FIFA has been accumulating for years, but came to a head in 2010 with the bidding for two World Cups. When the right to hold the competition in 2022 was won by tiny, bakingly hot Qatar, against the strong advice of FIFA’s own technical committee, suspicions that votes had been bought were immediately aroused. Thanks to two female whistleblowers and the diligent investigative work of the Sunday Times, a wealth of damning evidence was unearthed involving a Qatari FIFA official, Mohamed bin Hammam, who allegedly wooed football bigwigs in Africa with a $5m slush fund.

                      Under pressure, Mr Blatter eventually agreed to set up a FIFA “ethics court”. He also appointed Michael Garcia, the American lawyer who helped oust Eliot Spitzer from the position of New York governor, to investigate the allegations of vote-rigging and kickbacks. Incredibly, Mr Garcia, who spent more than a year looking into the allegations, never interviewed Mr bin Hammam or examined the trove of e-mails acquired by the Sunday Times. Only a summary version of his report, itself condemned by the investigator as “erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions”, was ever published. Mr Garcia resigned and Mr Blatter sailed serenely on, reneging on a commitment not to stand for election again. The idea that a clearly tainted World Cup bidding process should be reopened was firmly squashed.

                      The underlying problem at FIFA is that it controls television and marketing rights (worth $4 billion at last year’s World Cup in Brazil), which can be used by those in power to win the loyalty of football federations from poor countries, particularly in Africa. Corruption is tolerated, as long as the money is spread around. Critics of FIFA are dismissed as bad losers and racists.

                      The language it understands

                      Even now, there is no certainty that FIFA will embrace reform. The initial test of its willingness to clean house should be the replacement of Mr Blatter with someone who can be trusted with that mission, which must begin with reopening the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups under conditions of complete transparency. If nothing changes, others must act. UEFA, European football’s umbrella organisation, should leave FIFA and take its teams out of the World Cup. Europe’s broadcasters should decline to bid for rights. And FIFA’s biggest sponsors—the likes of Adidas, Coca-Cola, Visa and Hyundai—should realise that association with it risks damaging their brands. They must hit the organisation where it hurts most: in its bulging wallet. Until now the stench from FIFA has prompted people to do nothing more than hold their noses. That is no longer an option. At last, a challenge to the impunity of FIFA | The Economist

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                      • #12

                        Sepp Blatter's FIFA - The man who wouldn't give up
                        May 30th 2015, 8:01 by M.V. THE ECONOMIST

                        “UNITED PASSIONS” is a film made last year about the history of FIFA, in which Tim Roth plays Sepp Blatter, president of football’s world governing body. Made with FIFA’s co-operation, it is said to be a toe-curlingly apologist piece of work. (The film is yet to be released in Britain.) But real life can be even more ridiculous: in the theatre of the absurd that is FIFA, the villain of the piece is, apparently, the saviour; the alleged bribe-takers the victims; the corruption-fighters thinly veiled political opportunists.

                        Before going on to win a fifth term in office on Friday May 29th, Mr Blatter had insisted that he was the right man to lead the organisation out of the dreadful mess in which it finds itself—even though, as president for 17 years, he has consistently failed to deliver meaningful reform in response to wave after wave of scandal. Hours earlier Jack Warner, a former FIFA official from Trinidad, had suggested that the latest batch of corruption allegations against him were motivated by racism and sour grapes in Western countries that had missed out on hosting big tournaments. That is a view with which, his latest utterances suggest, Mr Blatter has some sympathy—even if his spokesman risibly described the latest, American-led corruption investigations as being in tune with, and even part of, FIFA’s existing “reform” process.

                        For longtime followers of FIFA’s antics, it would have come as no great surprise that Mr Blatter secured yet another four-year term in charge, even though the vote by FIFA’s 209 member countries came two days after seven top FIFA officials were arrested as part of an American fraud inquiry that has indicted 14 people and allegedly involves the giving or receiving of more than $150m in bribes and kickbacks. The investigations relate to the granting of broadcast and marketing rights for international football competitions stretching back more than 20 years, and alleged vote-buying in the awarding of World-Cup hosting rights to South Africa in 2010, Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

                        You might expect the boss to be thrown out on his ear when the lid is blown off a giant graft scandal that has been simmering for years. But, alleged bribes aside, many national and regional football associations have enjoyed lavish patronage from FIFA headquarters, in the form of perfectly legal development funding, cementing support for Mr Blatter over the years. It was clear long before the ballot that he would enjoy strong support from Africa and Asia.

                        As it turned out, it was not all plain sailing. The only other contender—and, as many in the West see it, the only hope for real reform—was Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, a FIFA vice-president from Jordan (and brother of King Abdullah). In the first round, he managed to get three more votes than the 70 needed to take it to a second round. That left Mr Blatter needing a straightforward majority of 105 second time round. As the voting was getting going again, Prince Ali took to the stage with a brief but dramatic announcement: he was withdrawing from the race.

                        The prince had been backed by most of the countries in UEFA, the umbrella group for European associations, though not Spain or Russia, whose president, Vladimir Putin, has berated the Americans for overstepping their authority in seeking the arrest of foreign FIFA officials (never mind that America is perfectly entitled to go after anyone who uses its financial system, transacts in dollars, or plans or carries out illegal schemes on its soil). In the end, the prince’s lack of support in developing countries, including his own region, proved too steep an obstacle.

                        The 79-year-old Mr Blatter (who has not been charged with anything) had initially appeared shaken by the dawn arrests in the middle of the week, and stayed out of the public eye. But by Friday he had regained his swagger. Speaking just before the vote, somewhat euphemistically, of FIFA being in “troubled times”, he accepted that “events have thrown a shadow across” the organisation. He was the man to lift this, he insisted, appealing for “unity and team spirit”. Speaking with gusto, he refused to take responsibility for the sins of others, being unable to “constantly supervise everybody in football”. Mr Blatter reminded the soon-to-vote delegates that, with him, “you know who you’re dealing with”, adding that “we don’t need revolutions” (and he was all smiles when the Palestine Football Association withdrew a motion to have Israel ejected from FIFA on the grounds of restricting the movement of players).

                        Also speaking from the podium before the vote, rather flatly, and seldom looking up from his notes, Prince Ali had said: “Everything is at sta...We cannot ignore the clamour outside our doors...I will not hide amongst your ranks when things are bad.” In an ominous sign, however, he received much smaller applause from delegates than the incumbent did, though he was better received on the press benches. He may have withdrawn when he did simply because he saw no chance of getting the extra 32 votes he would have needed for victory, or perhaps because he feared that the very public statement about discord within FIFA that had been made by the first-round vote could have been diluted in the second, if some of those who had voted for him defected to Mr Blatter when things got serious.

                        Now that Mr Blatter has been re-elected, all eyes will be on UEFA. Its head, Michel Platini, had called on the Swiss supremo to go, “as a friend”, the day before the vote. (Mr Blatter refused, because it was “too late”.) There had been talk of UEFA boycotting the election, but there was not enough support for such a drastic move.

                        There is lively debate within UEFA over whether to disengage or stay in the tent. David Gill, a UEFA board member, and a former chief executive of Manchester United football club, had said he wouldn’t take up his role as vice-president of FIFA if Mr Blatter won; some colleagues were urging him to take the job and fight for change from within. The British have led calls for UEFA to boycott the 2018 World-Cup finals, and Mr Platini has said nothing is off the table. That move would pack punch: it is hard to imagine fans in Europe and America being glued to their television sets without the participation of teams like Germany and Italy. But with UEFA not even boycotting the vote, the odds are against it.

                        The comments and actions of FIFA’s biggest sponsors will also be important in the coming weeks. Coca-Cola, Visa, Adidas, McDonald’s, Hyundai and Budweiser have all expressed concern over the crisis. Visa has taken the strongest line: “As a sponsor, we expect FIFA to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organisation. This starts with rebuilding a culture with strong ethical practices in order to restore the reputation of the game for fans everywhere,” the card network said in a statement. Nike has also been sucked into the storm, having allegedly paid millions of dollars into a Swiss bank account in connection with a sponsorship deal with Brazil, which hosted last year’s World Cup.

                        As for Mr Blatter, the glint had returned to his eye for the victory speech. By the time he gave an interview to Swiss television hours later, he was once again throwing punches: FIFA had been subjected to a “hate” campaign; the indictments were an attempt to “interfere” with the congress; their timing “doesn’t smell good”. He went on to berate law enforcers for passing judgment on his organisation “without being certain of what has happened”.

                        It looks highly unlikely that Mr Blatter will countenance revisiting the decision to give 2018 to Russia and 2022 to Qatari. Neither, in all probability, will he voluntarily stand down before his four years (his last, he assured delegates) are up; he talked of handing FIFA over stronger at the end of his tenure. Will he bring in meaningful reforms? Even if he does, they might seem hollow while he is still there, ducking responsibility for the organisation's past transgressions.

                        The other group to watch, however, are the West’s prosecutors. America’s attorney-general said this week that its investigations have a lot further to run. The head of the IRS’s criminal-investigations unit said late on Friday he was “fairly confident” that more indictments would be handed down before long. Switzerland’s attorney-general is also on the case, looking specifically at the voting for Russia and Qatar. Britain’s Serious Fraud Office is believed to be probing the role of banks in processing dodgy payments. If further waves of arrests take place, even Mr Blatter may be rocked for more than just a day or two.Sepp Blatter's FIFA: The man who wouldn't give up | The Economist

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                        • #13
                          British Banks to Review of Possible Corrupt FIFA Payments
                          VOICE OF AMERICA May 31, 2015 12:03 PM

                          Two British banks say they have launched internal reviews into how allegedly corrupt payments were funneled through their institutions as part of the years-long world football bribery scheme.

                          Barclays and Standard Chartered were among dozens of banks mentioned in the U.S. indictment last week charging 14 media and marketing executives and officials at FIFA, the sport's global governing body, in a $150 million bribery scandal related to the award of sports media contracts.

                          No banks have been charged with wrongdoing in the case.

                          But as the indictments were announced, U.S. prosecutor Kelly Currie said "part of our investigation will look at the conduct of the financial institutions to see whether they were cognizant of the fact they were helping launder these bribe payments.

                          "It's too early to say if there is any problematic behavior," he said.

                          On Friday, Britain's Serious Fraud Office said it "continues actively to assess material in its possession and has made plain that it stands ready to assist ongoing international criminal investigations."
                          British Banks to Review of Possible Corrupt FIFA Payments

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                          • #14
                            The Economist explains- How America is pursuing FIFA
                            Jun 1st 2015, 9:02 by M.V. THE ECONOMIST

                            Who has been charged in America, and with what?
                            A 47-count indictment has charged 14 defendants with offences including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, in connection with the alleged taking and giving of bribes and backhanders over 24 years. This was allegedly to secure support for World Cup hosting rights, or to ensure that tournament broadcast or marketing rights went to certain parties. Those charged include current and former senior FIFA officials, including Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner, the current and former presidents of CONCACAF, the regional football organisation in North and Central America. The defendants also include several sports-marketing executives who allegedly paid or agreed to pay well over $150m in bribes and bungs for media and marketing rights to tournaments.

                            What laws are the Americans using?
                            The case is essentially about bribery, yet there are no bribery charges. That is because federal bribery laws cover only bribery of government officials, not those from non-governmental bodies like FIFA. So prosecutors had to get creative—something they are increasingly doing in America, sometimes controversially. One of the laws they are bringing charges under is the Travel Act, points out Heather Lowe of Global Financial Integrity, an advocacy group. The relevant part of the law essentially says that it is illegal to engage in interstate or foreign travel, or use the mails or “any facility in interstate commerce” to promote, manage, establish or carry on an illegal activity. That activity can be illegal under either federal or state law. Bribery is definitely included on the list of what is considered an illegal activity under the Travel Act. Any relevant transaction, even if it is only tangentially related to America, can be targeted. In one instance, a representative of FirstCaribbean International Bank in the Bahamas flew to New York to pick up a cheque for $250,000 (the alleged bribe) from the bribe recipient to transport it safely back to the defendant’s bank account.

                            Why does America have the ability to do this sort of thing?
                            The arm of American law is famously long. The country’s law enforcers claim the right to go after anyone using dollars, its banking system or its territory to plan or conduct an illegal act. It can try them in its courts, subject to successful extradition. Chuck Blazer, a defendant who turned co-operator, was based in New York. Accused FIFA officials and marketing executives allegedly discussed or engaged in palm-greasing while passing through America; several of the more than 30 banks and branches that handled tainted transactions are American. For any bank or company that does substantial business in the country, corporate charges have to be taken very seriously—and are usually settled promptly.

                            What next?
                            Loretta Lynch, the United States Attorney General, made it clear that those charged are not the only ones in her sights. Another official spoke of being “fairly confident” that there will be further indictments. It is not clear if Sepp Blatter, FIFA's president, is a target. He has denied all knowledge of wrongdoing. Some of those already in trouble might offer to co-operate and give up others to save their own skins, just as Mr Blazer did after being accused of tax evasion.

                            Will other countries join America’s crusade against corruption in football?
                            Switzerland’s attorney general has launched a probe into how Russia and Qatar won the right to host the World Cups of 2018 and 2022, respectively, targeting a number of officials for suspected “criminal mismanagement” and money-laundering. Said to be in the works for months, the probe was made public on the same day America unsealed its indictments. The Swiss have frozen some FIFA officials’ accounts and seized records. Britain’s Serious Fraud Office has launched its own investigation, into the role of banks that handled questionable transactions.

                            Might bankers face charges too?
                            At least 31 different banks or bank branches, located in at least 14 different countries, were identified (though not charged) in the indictment—including Barclays and HSBC. There is only one instance in the reams of indictments of a bank raising any objection to a transfer request. So the case could be a big test of bank liability in such matters. The case comes at a time when regulators have sharply raised their expectations for banks' efforts to spot, monitor and report suspicious transactions. And even if banks were not knowingly involved in laundering money, they could be subject to big fines, if their anti-laundering controls were shown to be wanting. However, according to the indictments some of the bribe payments were designed to evade such controls. One official, for instance, allegedly had the bribe payer pay the company that was building his pool instead of paying him directly. Such attempted deception could provide banks with legal cover for not having reported transactions.

                            Why is it America that has launched the first serious assault on corruption at FIFA when the organisation is based in Europe?
                            America has a long history of being tougher on white-collar crime and corruption than other countries. In this case the type of legal system it has also played a part. A common prosecutorial tactic in America is to collar someone you suspect of being part of a conspiracy, threaten them with all sorts of charges and decades in prison, and offer them leniency in a plea deal if they spill the beans. As well as Mr Blazer, two of Mr Warner’s sons have also pleaded guilty and given up information. This aggressive approach is double-edged: it makes it easier to break open illegal schemes when evidence is hard to collect, but it sometimes leads to the innocent pleading guilty or making up evidence against alleged co-conspirators, for fear of otherwise being put behind bars for an eternity. European judicial systems generally do not have plea-bargaining for precisely this reason.

                            How has the rest of the world reacted to the charges?
                            Most of Europe is happy, believing that FIFA has long been a cesspit of corruption in desperate need of fresh faces and reform. But Spain voted for Mr Blatter in the election held last week, and Russia is an avid supporter. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, congratulated him warmly on his re-election, praising his “experience, professionalism and high authority”. Mr Putin has suggested that the American attack on FIFA is an unjustified attempt to wield its power extraterritorially, driven by geopolitics.

                            Though widely welcomed in the FIFA case, American extraterritoriality is often controversial. Sometimes it seems that prosecutors stretch legal theories, and jurisdiction, too far. For instance BHP Billiton, an Anglo-Australian mining group, was recently fined $25m by American regulators for paying for 176 African and Asian government officials to attend the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, even though there was no specific quid pro quo. Banks, meanwhile, complain that the Department of Justice has overreached in indicating that hiring relatives of officials counts as bribery. But it is hard to deny that America’s tough stance has made companies and other organisations more likely to weed out corruption in their ranks. The Economist explains: How America is pursuing FIFA | The Economist

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                            • #15
                              FIFA U-20 World Cup - Ukraine hit Myanmar for six
                              (FIFA.com) 02 Jun 2015

                              A Valerii Luchkevych and Viktor Kovalenko-inspired Ukraine stormed to a 6-0 win over Myanmar, scoring all of their goals in the second-half to put one foot in the FIFA U-20 World Cup last 16.

                              After a drab first 45 minutes the Europeans found their rhythm as Luchkevych became the catalyst for an avalanche of goals, with Kovalenko leaving the field with a brace and two assists to his name.

                              It was rare that the game flowed in the opening stages, though Ukraine were certainly in command of the early passages of play. But their first sight of goal would largely characterise the half. Artem Bieseidin was slid through inside five minutes, but he dallied and his lack of composure allowed keeper Myo Min Latt to smother.

                              Myanmar grew into the game, but an absence of cutting edge was regularly evident as Ukraine spurned a hatful of chances. There was one moment to get the Myanmar fans off their seat, who have been turning out in their droves for the Asian underdogs, as a mazy run from halfway by Aung Thu – skipping past three men in blue – deserved more than the corner his deflected shot earned.

                              That will have felt a long time ago 12 minutes into the second half, largely thanks to the introduction of Luchkevych. He only played a small part in the opener, where Yevhan Chumak's cross picked out Roman Yaremchuk to head home, but he was instrumental from there on.

                              Well found by Viktor Kovalenko – who was domineering in the centre of middle – in acres of space on the right flank, he delightfully chipped the keeper from the edge of the box. Another fine run saw him create the second, as Min Latt saved his shot only for Kovalenko to slot in the rebound, completing a nightmare six minutes for the Asian debutants.

                              Another Kovalenko pass picked out full-back Eduard Sobol to make it four, before Luchkeyvich was at it again as his neat turn in the box allowed him to set-up Bieseidin for an easy finish. The Dnipro midfielder, absent from the first game because of his involvement in UEFA Europa League final, should have had a second, but Thiha Htet Aung's handball on the line saw the defender sent off.

                              Pavlo Polehenko missed the resultant spot-kick, but great work by Biesieden down the right allowed Kovalenko to double his tally for the afternoon with a simple finish.
                              Ukraine hit Myanmar for six - FIFA.com

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