27 May, 2015

It's Going Down For Real

With just 48hrs to go before the election of FIFA president in Switzerland, 6 arrests were made by the Swiss in conjunction with the FBI over racketeering, bribery and money laundering done on US soil by several CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and CAFU (Central America's soccer federation) as well as executives from a handful of sports marketing companies.

Among those indicted:

Jeffrey Webb: Current Fifa vice-president and executive committee member, Concacaf president, Caribbean Football Union (CFU) executive committee member and Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) president.
Eduardo Li: Current Fifa executive committee member-elect, Concacaf executive committee member and Costa Rican soccer federation (FEDEFUT) president.
Julio Rocha: Current Fifa development officer. Former Central American Football Union (UNCAF) president and Nicaraguan soccer federation (FENIFUT) president.
Costas Takkas: Current attaché to the Concacaf president. Former CIFA general secretary.
Jack Warner: Former Fifa vice-president and executive committee member, Concacaf president, CFU president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) special adviser.
Eugenio Figueredo: Current Fifa vice-president and executive committee member. Former Conmebol president and Uruguayan soccer federation (AUF) president.
Rafael Esquivel: Current Conmebol executive committee member and Venezuelan soccer federation (FVF) president.
José Maria Marin: Current member of the Fifa organising committee for the Olympic football tournaments. Former CBF president.
Nicolás Leoz: Former Fifa executive committee member and Conmebol president.
Four of the defendants were sports marketing executives:
Alejandro Burzaco: Controlling principal of Torneos y Competencias SA, a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.
Aaron Davidson: President of Traffic Sports USA Inc (Traffic USA).
Hugo and Mariano Jinkis: Controlling principals of Full Play Group SA, a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.

As you can see, everyone's favorite their, Jack Warner made the top 14 list.  While he denies any wrong doing, as he always does, it's of note that this all came down through testimony of Fat Man Santa Impersonator, Chuck Blazer as well as Jack Warner's son, who was arrested and held in Miami by the FBI on money laundering last year.

For those of you that might recognize the name Traffic Sports but not remember why, they own several sports teams in Brazil, one in Portugal and also Ft. Lauderdale's new pro soccer team.  Of those teams, Freddy Adu played on 3, and Gale Agbossoumonde played on 2 as both were owned by Traffic Sports.  And when I say owned, I mean that Traffic Sports has bought up the rights of quite a few players and then sells shares of those players to the public and then also to the teams they play for in hopes to enrich themselves.  This was recently banned by FIFA as third party ownership complicated many transactions because some owners would not want to give up their shares of a player if they thought they were worth more and as such, we saw many player sales out of South America fall through.

Make no mistake.  This is a 47 count indictment with heavy evidence against them all.  Throughout it all, Sepp maintains that he's innocent (read that as he wasn't stupid enough to run his money through US banks).  That said, Swiss authorities have now opened criminal investigations into the awarding of both Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 and seized electronic documents from FIFA HQ as well as having already collected bank statements from Swiss banks over the past year that lend to evidence there may be an issue.  One would assume, a release of the Garcia Report, in full, will follow.

So what does all this mean?

As of right now, the election for Friday is going on as planned.  Forty-eight hours ago, the lone opponent to King Sepp was approached by a third party with an offer to release many financial details suggesting Sepp bribed his way to the top (hopefully seized) as well as an offer to provide 47 votes in the election.  80 is needed to force a runoff wherein a simple majority wins the election.  If only one candidate reaches that threshold, then they win.  All this information was turned over to an investigative group in the UK, so presumably, they will forward that onto the DOJ.  Again, so far Sepp remains in the clear, but since his platform was his "legacy at FIFA", this just further shows that a lot of people need to go and he needs to step down.

As an aside, many people have come forward in the media stating that Sepp is a likable guy.  That doesn't mean he's honest, but that does lend to the belief that keeps running for re-election because he doesn't know what to do with his life without all these titles and people throwing money and deals his way.  He's just been so corrupt for so long.

Loretta Lynch, the US Attorney General has now stated that Lynch says $110m in bribes were related to next year’s Copa América Centenario in the United States alone.

We'll try to keep you updated on all this, but for an up to the minute, go here to the Guardian's live updates.
Photo: Austin Powers


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