The Meaning Behind Crests: Man United’s Red Devil, Panathinaikos’s Shamrock and More

April 24, 2020

With sports, including soccer, at a standstill, it’s a good time to delve into the history and culture of the game. Nowhere are those more evident than on club crests. They often just include a crown and a ball. But on occasion, logos feature an element inspired by a fascinating story or some esoteric or hidden meaning. We brought you two such lists back in 2017 (Part 1 | Part 2)
SI


The World Cup Final Is Upon Us. What Have We Learned?

July 15, 2018

“Here we are. The final match of the 2018 World Cup has almost arrived, and it has been as thrilling a tournament as I can remember. As Maximus, Russell Crowe’s character in ‘Gladiator,’ famously yelled, ‘Are you not entertained?’ Over the past four weeks, 32 teams from across the globe have come to Russia to play their hardest and to try their luck. One by one they have all gone home, often in heartbreak. There have been some shocking results, for sure. Germany didn’t even make it out of the first round; the formidable Spain was knocked out by Russia. Brazil looked invincible, and then Belgium brushed them aside. My home team, England, made it further than expected, before a gallant and tearful exit at the semifinal stage on Wednesday. Now it’s down to France against Croatia, on July 15.” NY Times


Stuck in Soccer Limbo, in the Shadow of the World Cup

July 4, 2018

“An odd thing happened in December when soccer fans in Crimea, the disputed Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, began trying to buy tickets to the World Cup. Some ticket seekers trying to make purchases through FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, encountered error messages on their computers. The problem, the president of Crimea’s soccer federation told reporters, was that FIFA still recognized Crimea as part of Ukraine. Fans on the peninsula feared that World Cup tickets had joined cellphones and credit cards on a list of imported items banned by international sanctions.” NY Times


Soccer and Doping? Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

June 27, 2018

“The World Cup continues to thrill, with exhilarating wins by England, Germany, Belgium and Colombia, and an equally exciting draw between Japan and Senegal. Away from the field, though, an old controversy has once again rumbled into view: doping. The Mail on Sunday, a British newspaper, reported over the weekend that a Russian player, Ruslan Kambolov, who was excluded from his country’s World Cup squad because of injury, had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs 18 months ago. And according to the paper, it gets worse: Both the Russian authorities and FIFA kept this information quiet.” NY Times


World Cup 2018: Serbia chief accuses Fifa of ‘brutal robbery’ after Swiss defeat

June 23, 2018

“The head of the Serbian Football Association has accused governing body Fifa of showing bias against his country at the World Cup in Russia. Slavisa Kokeza says Serbia were victims of a ‘brutal robbery’ during Friday’s loss to Switzerland, accusing Fifa of ‘directing’ officials to work against them. ‘We will send a protest to Fifa today,’ Kokeza told the BBC on Saturday. A Fifa spokesman confirmed a letter of protest had been received but that no further comment would be made.” BBC (Video)

Mexico Fans Stop Homophobic Chant, Excel at Good Chants
“Saturday’s match against South Korea went about as well for Mexico as its fans could have hoped. The 2–1 victory all but guaranteed a trip to the World Cup’s knock-out stages and bolstered El Tri’s chances of winning its tough group outright. The game also didn’t feature any homophobic chants, so it was a very fine day indeed. On Wednesday, FIFA fined the Mexico Football Federation $10,000 for its fans’ use of the ‘discriminatory and insulting’ puto chant during the opening match against Germany.” Slate


Europe And South America Are Growing In Soccer Power — That Wasn’t Supposed To Happen

June 20, 2018


“If there’s been a dominant trend in the first week of the 2018 World Cup, perhaps it has been how well European nations from beyond the continent’s traditional giants have performed. Iceland, Switzerland, Serbia, Sweden, Croatia and Russia are all off to a strong start. This should be no surprise. Only two nations from outside Europe and South America have made the World Cup semifinals (the United States in the inaugural competition in 1930 and South Korea in 2002). In 20 previous World Cups, only 12 countries have reached the final — all from Europe or South America — and only eight sides have won the tournament.” FiveThirtyEight


Mark Lawrenson’s pantomime punditry: a relic to cherish on the BBC

June 19, 2018

“Fifa are fond of telling us that football is a family. If so, Mark Lawrenson is the grumpy uncle one was compelled to invite to the gathering. But rather than simply sticking him in a secluded armchair and keeping him quiet with a gob full of Quality Street and cooking brandy, the BBC has let him loose on World Cup television viewers. Lawro has so far done two matches for BBC TV; reaction has been mixed. Which is to say, some people have hated it, and other people have really hated it. Or that has been the online response, anyway, with social media commentators vying to one-up each other with their spite and rage at his contributions to the France vs Australia and Belgium vs Panama matches.” Telegraph


Fifa’s Gianni Infantino hits rocky ground on 2018 World Cup eve

June 12, 2018

“The World Cup in Russia has sailed into view with a new Fifa captain at the helm, two and a half years since Sepp Blatter’s presidency crashed on the rocks of corruption and ethics breaches. Gianni Infantino seemed a callow, unlikely president when he was elevated to succeed the banned Blatter in February 2016 as, his tie slightly askew, he tapped his heart in wonderment at winning the vote of the Fifa congress.” Guardian


Hello, World

June 10, 2018

“In 1990, I spent one of the single greatest summers of my life as a counselor at a sleepaway camp in Maine. I was that requisite creepy English guy with cut-off denim shorts who spent seven glorious weeks attempting to fathom the American traditions of lanyard-making, Devil Dogs and skyhook wedgies. Yet my dominant memory remains America’s cruel indifference to the sport I love: soccer.” Washington Post


How Russian Meddling Gave Us This Year’s World Cup

June 9, 2018

“In the spring of 2010, Christopher Steele, a former British spy with a shock of graying hair and a quiet, understated manner, received some alarming news: Vladimir Putin, a lifelong ice hockey fan, had taken a sudden interest in soccer. This was years before Mr. Steele compiled his now famous dossier on Donald Trump, with its references to clandestine meetings in Prague and, of course, ‘the pee tape.'” NY Times


North American Bid for World Cup Gets High Marks, but Still Needs Votes

June 2, 2018

“The organization that controls soccer’s World Cup released a report Friday that raises serious concerns about Morocco’s ability to host the 2026 event, but the country’s bid was not disqualified. The assessment by evaluators for FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, could have essentially delivered the World Cup back to North America for the first time since 1994 had it outright rejected Morocco’s bid on technical grounds. Instead, Morocco’s survival sets up a furious two-week chase for votes against the other remaining bid, a combined entry from the United States, Mexico and Canada. …” NY Times


Morocco’s World Cup Bid: New Stadiums and ‘Very Low Gun Circulation’

April 5, 2018

“Morocco’s official proposal to host the 2026 World Cup highlights the country’s low murder rate and its ‘very low gun circulation’ — a not-too-subtle dig at a rival bid led by the United States, which is campaigning for the tournament amid a roiling national discussion about gun safety. …” NY Times


Haifa – A tale of two clubs

February 13, 2018

“It’s a cold Saturday afternoon in the Northern Israel city of Haifa, a passing Mediterranean storm has just drenched those who were braving the elements with a stroll on the windswept boardwalk. The beachfront is deserted at this time of year, the cafes and restaurants that are alive during summer have the hatches well and truly battened down and save for a few surfers who are reveling in the rough conditions it is safe to assume that the city’s population have stayed indoors thinking of the upcoming spring. …” backpagefootball


FourFourTwo’s 100 Best Football Players in the World 2017

January 19, 2018

“… No.26, Kylian Mbappe. Talk about bursting onto the scene: the teenager turned heads across Europe – and became the second-most expensive player in history – with his scintiliating performances in Ligue 1 and beyond. One football stats sage recently declared on Twitter that Kylian Mbappe is ‘the best teenager we’ve seen in the data era’. This is no time for another Proper Football Men vs Analytics Geeks debate – and in this case there’s no need anyway, as it’s a statement with which all parties can surely agree. …” FourFourTwo (Video)


Critics Say FIFA Is Stalling a Doping Inquiry as World Cup Nears

January 4, 2018

“LONDON — Dealing with Russia and its doping program haunted the International Olympic Committee for over a year. Now it’s FIFA’s turn. With the Russia World Cup six months away, leaders of the antidoping movement are criticizing soccer’s governing body over its failure to pursue more aggressively whether Russian authorities covered up positive doping tests belonging to the country’s top soccer players. Travis Tygart, the head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, said Tuesday that FIFA’s apparent inaction was ‘exasperating.’ Craig Reedie, the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said he expected FIFA to pursue any allegations of corruption and act decisively. …” NY Times


FIFA’s Dirty Wars

December 21, 2017


“Toward the end of the 2010 World Cup, Julio Grondona made a prediction, or perhaps it was a promise, to a group of journalists in the gilded lobby of Johannesburg’s Michelangelo hotel, the five-star Italian-marble palace where FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, had established its tournament headquarters. Argentina had just been humiliated, 4-0, by the Germans, but Grondona wasn’t worried about the backlash. In 31 years as president of the Argentina’s national soccer association, he’d endured personal scandal, government turmoil, economic collapse, and the ardent passions of the beautiful game’s fans. ‘Todo Pasa,’ read the inscription on his big gold ring. All things pass—all things except, of course, Julio Grondona. ‘No one is kicking me out until I die,’ he told the reporters. …” New Republic


Ostersunds FK: Rise of Swedish club under English manager Graham Potter

December 14, 2017


“Rewind to July in Istanbul, and a little-known team from Sweden stand on the brink of history as the clock ticks down on the second leg of their Europa League qualifier against Turkish giants Galatasaray. With five minutes remaining, Ostersunds FK chairman Daniel Kindberg rises from his seat and makes his way down the steps of the Turk Telecom Arena to join his players in celebrating a 3-1 aggregate victory – the biggest result in the club’s history. Kindberg knew the players would have to handle the final whistle right, just as they had the 180 minutes of football that preceded it. …” BBC (Video)


Applause at the Draw, but Will Russia Keep Cheering?

December 3, 2017


“MOSCOW — Half a million fans — by current, suspiciously optimistic, estimates — will descend on Russia next year for what Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president, has already decreed will be the ‘best’ World Cup in history. Every single fan, he has decided, will have “an amazing experience.” Billions of dollars have been spent on new, or renovated, stadiums to host the finest players in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, on Friday promised a ‘major sporting festival of friendship and fair play.’ …” NY Times, The Ringer: The Four Must-Watch Games of the 2018 World Cup Group Stages (Video), NY Times – World Cup Draw: Group-by-Group Analysis


Next Generation 2017: 60 of the best young talents in world football

December 3, 2017


“From Vinicius Júnior, who has already signed for Real Madrid, to ‘the Romanian Donnarumma’ the Guardian identifies 60 of the best players in the world born in 2000. Check the progress of our 2016 class | 2015 | 2014 … and check out our Next Generation 2017 picks for the Premier League …” Guardian


Ahead of World Cup, Fans Are Warned About Homophobia and Racism in Russia

November 30, 2017

“EINDHOVEN, the Netherlands — An anti-discrimination organization that has partnered with FIFA to control fan behavior at the World Cup has issued warnings to gay and transgender fans and people of certain races and ethnicities for next summer’s tournament, highlighting ongoing concerns about threats they may face in Russia. …” NY Times


The Illustrated History of Football – Hall of Fame

November 21, 2017


“Welcome back to the imitable work of illustrator David Squires.Most football fans can only dream of pulling on the shirt of their favourite team and running out in front of thousands of adoring fans. Pitch invaders aside, few of us get to experience that adrenalin rush. Of those who do make it as a professional footballer, even fewer realise the giddy heights of success. In the Illustrated History of Football- Hall of Fame, cartoonist David Squires returns to celebrate those who straddle the game like giants; those talented, determined souls who were juggling tennis balls in the back streets before they could talk. There’s more than one way to attain football immortality though, and Squires also turns his comic eye to the mavericks, the pioneers, the forgotten legends and the anti-heroes. From Pele to Meazza, Maradona to Socrates, you will be taken on an unforgettable journey through the good, the bad and the Hagi.” boomerangbooks, amazon


How Did a Tiny Swiss Company Quietly Secure Valuable World Cup TV Rights?

October 27, 2017


“LONDON — Investigations over the last few years by United States and Swiss law enforcement officials into corruption in global soccer have exposed dozens of people and companies that, according to prosecutors, conspired to illegally reap profits from broadcasting and sponsorship deals tied to the sport’s biggest events. One company never named in any of the charging documents, but referred to obliquely, is a little-known entity based in the canton of Zug in Switzerland: Mountrigi Management Group, a three-person operation that illustrates how some of the biggest deals at the top of the world’s most-popular sport were put together. …” NY Times


Odd Man Out

October 8, 2017

“In November’s Fifa rankings, Macedonia FYR fell to 155th place, the worst position in the country’s history. Their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup have all but disappeared, the national team reflecting the desperate state of Macedonian football. Milko Djurovski is a former Yugoslavia international and the brother of the former Macedonia FYR head coach Boško. …” The Blizzard


In Soccer’s Hinterlands, World Cup Expansion Opens a Door

January 19, 2017

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Uganda, celebrating a goal against Botswana, is one of the teams that are likely to benefit the most from the coming World Cup expansion.
“While the soccer world was chewing over FIFA’s controversial decision on Tuesday to increase the size of the World Cup finals to 48 teams from 32, Milutin Sredojevic was trying to block out the noise. Sredojevic, a Serbian coach, is in Dubai preparing Uganda’s national team for the Africa Cup of Nations, the continental championship that begins Saturday in Gabon. Uganda, which is in the tournament for the first time since 1978, is a heavy underdog. Yet despite Sredojevic’s best efforts to focus on the task ahead, news of the expansion, which could benefit smaller federations like Uganda’s, filtered through anyway.” NY Times


FIFA to Expand World Cup to 48 Teams in 2026

January 19, 2017

“The World Cup will grow to 48 teams within a decade under a plan approved unanimously on Tuesday by FIFA’s governing council, an enormous expansion of soccer’s showpiece tournament that was hailed by supporters as a victory for inclusion but that was derided by critics as the latest money grab by an organization still emerging from a series of financial scandals. The move, which will take effect in 2026, was the largest expansion, in percentage terms, for the World Cup since it went to 24 teams from 16 in 1982, and the first since it moved to the current 32-nation format in 1998.” NY Times


Forever Pure – Football and Racism in Jerusalem

December 22, 2016

“Documentary which follows events at Israel’s most notorious football club. Beitar Jerusalem FC is the most popular team in Israel and the only club in the Premier League never to sign an Arab player. Midway through a season the club’s owner, Russian-Israeli oligarch Arcadi Gaydamak, brought in two Muslim players from Chechnya in a secretive transfer deal that triggered the most racist campaign in Israeli sport and sent the club spiralling out of control. Forever Pure follows the famous football club through the tumultuous season, as power, money and politics fuel a crisis and shows how racism is destroying both the team and society from within.” BBC (Video)


The best World Cup format–that FIFA would never consider

December 8, 2016

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“The World Cup might grow to 40 teams, or it might wind up with 48. It might be eight groups of five or four groups of 10, or there might be 16 seeds and a straight 32-team knockout round to get to join them in the format we have now. Or it might be 16 groups of three. Either way, the endless gigantism stimulated by FIFA presidential elections, as candidates promise more and more nations that they, too, can play in a World Cup, means that the competition will be even more bloated, even more unwieldy by then. Of course, this is 2026 we’re talking about, so there’s a significant chance global political elections by then will mean that by then, as George Orwell foresaw, it’s just three teams: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


L’Internationale exhibition – London comes alive for Euro 2016

November 2, 2016

“Oxford House in Bethnal Green, London, recently played host to L’Internationale, an exhibition of photos taken in London during Euro 2016. Liam Aylott, by day a professional fashion and advertising photographer, tracked down fans of all twenty-four participating nations and captured the agony and ecstasy of supporting one’s nation. The exhibition and Liam’s work was supported by Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Federation’s Fans for Diversity fund, which was set up to help fans celebrate the extraordinary power of football to unite people from a diverse set of backgrounds.” Football Pink


Belgium – The Farce FIFA Needs To Fix

September 15, 2016

“Belgium must have some kind of special glamor power with football’s governing body, or the country collectively holds an awful lot of photos of top FIFA bods at Christmas Karaoke parties going through an enthusiastic Abba medley.  The most under-achieving country in terms of talent vs results are still being rewarded for their purely theoretical footballing prowess by holding fast in the FIFA rankings in second place. Second!” BeinSports – Tim Stannard


Waiting for Con – Ireland’s sports writing colossus

July 30, 2016

“Considering the circumstances of one’s own conception is a curious concern. Dispensing with the questions that are perhaps too crude to contemplate – where, when, and, the most dreaded of all, how – the possibility of ‘why?’ can, on occasion, generate some intriguing answers. Born in mid-March, 1991, a standard gestation would suggest my own ‘seedtime’ fell somewhere in or around June of the previous year. An incongruous month of boring, goal-stricken football for most, Italia ’90 cemented Ireland’s nationwide fascination with a sport whose appeal had been suitably whetted two years previously at Euro ’88.” Football Pink


History of the Ball

April 17, 2016

“According to official FIFA regulations, a soccer ball must be spherical, made of leather or another suitable material, the circumference must be between 68 and 70cm, the weight must be between 410 and 450g, and the internal pressure must be between .6 and 1.1 atmospheres. Within these regulations, however, there can be a lot of variation. The history of the modern soccer ball began in 1862 with the invention of the rubber bladder.” Soccer Politics


Group of death: FIFA officials’ financial secrets exposed in new Wikileaks-style trove

April 12, 2016

“Mossack Fonseca, a prominent law firm headquartered in Panama—with offices in 36 other jurisdictions—sprung a leak last year. That leak produced approximately 11.5 million documents revealing over 200,000 entities and 14,000 clients, surfacing relationships that had remained behind a veil of secrecy and attorney-client privilege. The leaked emails and documents reveal a wide spectrum of clientele—from politicians to celebrities, athletes, the ridiculously wealthy and powerful, and corporations—who have been turning to the firm for decades to create offshore shell companies, corporate vehicles that leave virtually no ownership footprint.” Fusion


Is the integrity of international football under threat?

March 28, 2016

“Mid-March is upon us and the business end of the football season has arrived where we start to get an idea of the future destination of all the big prizes in both domestic and European football. As Sir Alex Ferguson famously remarked ‘It’s squeaky-bum time’. It also sees the arrival of the calendar year’s first worldwide international break where top level football across Europe takes a week’s break for a round of international matches. With 2016 being an even-numbered year and in addition a European Championships year for UEFA’s members, this batch of friendly matches has more of an edge to it than your traditional drab and half-hearted friendly international fixture that takes place prior to the start of the European league season in early August.” Outside of the Boot


FIFA, Knowing Prosecutors Are Watching, Makes Some Changes

March 2, 2016

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“ZURICH — Soccer’s governing body used an election on Friday to try to break with the past. FIFA chose a new president, the Swiss administrator Gianni Infantino, while approving reforms intended to overhaul the multibillion-dollar organization that the American authorities said last year was overrun with criminals. A new era has begun, Mr. Infantino said, addressing fellow FIFA officials in a stadium here but surely hoping that United States prosecutors were listening from afar. In their continuing case, the federal authorities in Brooklyn have depicted the Switzerland-based FIFA as a victim, hijacked by depraved leaders — corrupted but not corrupt. The organization hired top defense lawyers and crisis managers from the United States to share information with investigators and help advance that characterization in the nine months since charges were first unsealed.” NY Times
NY Times: The Baur au Lac and Me (Video)
NY Times: Sepp Blatter, on Eve of FIFA Election, Is Exiting ‘a Happy Man’


Familiar Story for Thai Soccer as an Election Prompts ‘a Civil War’

February 11, 2016

“Surawut Maharom was looking stressed. His job had seemed simple when he had first arrived: to oversee an election on Thursday to choose a new president of the Football Association of Thailand. But nothing is simple when it comes to soccer in Thailand. ‘This is a civil war,’ Surawut said. ‘It’s the most difficult case that I’ve dealt with.’ In October, FIFA, global soccer’s governing body, dismissed the executive committee of the Thai soccer association after its president, Worawi Makudi, was suspended pending an ethics investigation.” NT Times


Why FIFA should hit Mexico with harsher penalties for ‘puto’ chants

February 7, 2016

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“Two years later, FIFA has finally fined Mexico for fans chanting puto at games. I already explained back in 2014 why this term is offensive and heterosexist. Yes, lots of Mexico fans say they don’t mean it “that way,” but recall the early 1990s when Americans used the word ‘gay’ to mean ‘stupid’? Yeah, that was offensive. It still is. Puto is no different. The LGBTQ community in Mexico finds the term offensive, has made that point well known, and the so-called ‘tradition’ is less than two decades old. It needs to go and the time is ripe to make it happen. Still, one problem remains: FIFA’s impotency.” Fusion


World Cup 2018 – peace at last

January 17, 2016

“Amid the dying embers of 2015 there was a spark which spoke volumes about the nature of football and politics, which are always one and the same. And it all revolved around the fallout from the bids for World Cup 2018. In Russia, as we know, all football clubs are political vehicles. They are backed by local cities/regions, or by politicians/businessmen, bar one exception.” backpagefootball


SI Now: Wahl on European coaching carousel, Arsenal, FIFA election

January 10, 2016

“The European coaching carousel is in overdrive, with a number of the sport’s biggest names on the move. Jose Mourinho is gone from Chelsea, and Guus Hiddink is in charge for the rest of the season. Pep Guardiola announced he’ll be taking a Premier League job after this season with Bayern Munich, where Carlo Ancelotti will then take over. Zinedine Zidane has taken over for Rafa Benitez at Real Madrid, where Zidane starred as one of the world’s greatest players. To make sense of it all, speculate on where the carousel might stop next and also delve into Arsenal’s Premier League title chances and the latest regarding the FIFA election, SI’s Grant Wahl joined Maggie Gray on Thursday’s SI Now. Watch the video above for the entire interview, and for more on the goings on in the world of soccer, listen to the new Planet Fútbol Podcast here.” SI


Brighton Floored by a Wolves Sucker Punch

January 6, 2016

“When the Football League’s longest unbeaten run from the start of the season came to an end, it at least did so with a degree of finality. Being the last unbeaten club in the upper echelons of the English league system had, in all honesty, become something of a millstone around the neck of Brighton & Hove Albion. After last season’s closer than expected or wanted brush with the possibility of relegation back to League One, a year of mid-table security might have been enough for the club, but from the start of the season Chris Hughton’s team had been grinding out results week after week, seldom looking likely to set the world alight, but being consistently difficult to beat.” twohundredpercent


Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini Are Barred From Soccer for 8 Years

December 21, 2015

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“Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, two of the most powerful figures in global soccer, were barred from the sport for eight years on Monday morning after being found guilty of ethics violations. The suspensions were imposed by the independent ethics committee of FIFA, soccer’s international governing body. Mr. Blatter, who is FIFA’s longtime president, as well as Mr. Platini, who is the president of UEFA, which oversees soccer in Europe, are prohibited from taking part in any soccer-related activities while barred — a sanction that, in Mr. Platini’s case, seemingly ends any chance that he will be able to run in February’s special election to fill the post Mr. Blatter has said he would vacate.” NY Times
NY Times: The Rise and Fall of Sepp Blatter
NY Times: A Hemisphere of Soccer Corruption


The good, bad and ugly of FIFA’s Mad Men

December 21, 2015

“I discovered it late but I’m glad I got there in the end. As a 1960s nut, the TV series Mad Men was made for me. In the last few months I ploughed through all seven seasons of a program that looked at the decade and its changes, especially in terms of gender relations, through the prism of the advertising industry.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


More Charges as FIFA Inquiry Widens

December 3, 2015

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“The investigation into corruption and bribery in soccer that in May rocked FIFA, the sport’s multibillion-dollar governing body, metastasized on Thursday when United States officials unsealed a new indictment that alleged an even more extensive network of criminal behavior across dozens of countries and involved some of the most powerful people in international soccer. Sixteen new defendants were identfied, with charges including wire fraud, money laundering and racketeering, aimed almost entirely at individuals from Central and South America. Among them were aformer president of Honduras, a judge on the Constitutional Court of Guatemala and the current and former presidents of Brazil’s national soccer federation.” NY Times (Video)

Five-Star Zurich Hotel Again Figures Into FIFA Arrests
“Just before 6 a.m. here Thursday, Swiss law enforcement officers briskly entered a side door of the Baur au Lac hotel. Moments later, a hotel custodian, in a starched uniform and polished shoes, stepped out the front door of the five-star property and dutifully vacuumed the entryway carpets, seemingly oblivious to the police raid underway behind him. It would have been a bizarre juxtaposition for this plush, historic hotel on the banks of Lake Zurich if it were not so familiar. Just six months ago, the Swiss police arrived at the Baur au Lac for the first roundup of top soccer officials, rocking the soccer world and providing an august setting for charges of corruption, bribery, money laundering and other ignoble offenses.” Y Times


Platini and Blatter’s “thing between two men” defense explains why neither should be FIFA president

October 21, 2015

“This has not been a good month for Michel Platini. When September turned to October, UEFA president Platini was the clear front-runner to replace beleaguered FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who was supposedly planning to finally step down after the February 2016 FIFA presidential elections. Platini had it good. Europe had his back, so did many Asian and South American nations. Everything was rainbows and champagne, even though there were always plenty of questions about Platini’s past and candidacy. And then everything crumbled. It must have been devastating.” Fusion


Inconvenient truths: Platini, Chung, and the lies at the heart of FIFA’s demise

October 11, 2015

“Business leaders often opt against telling straight, brutal truths. That’s the case for several reasons, one of which is that telling the straight, brutal truth doesn’t always serve immediate personal or business interests. Also, most people, unsurprisingly, don’t have death wishes. That’s why, odds are pretty good that you’ll never see your boss walk into the office and say, ‘Hey everyone, I’ve done bad, suspect things that compromise everything we do here. No authorities or enforcement officials know anything but I just wanted you to know the truth because the truth matters.’ Self-preservation instincts make sacrificing for truth difficult, particularly after one dedicates a significant amount of time toward cultivating valuable personal or business interests.” Fusion


There Was a Crooked Man …

September 30, 2015

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“The world is not divided in its opinion of Sepp Blatter. Few public figures attract as much loathing as the 79-year-old Machiavelli of football, an über-politician whose name recalls the Latin moniker of that creature that would, goes the story, survive a nuclear armageddon: blatta, the cockroach. He has sat contentedly at football’s top table for four terms and was elected for a fifth on May 29. Swatting away would-be usurpers, presiding over the growth of FIFA from a fusty, nearly bankrupt organization into a behemoth that turns well over $1 billion a year—and is now seen as a hotbed of corruption, a nest of thieves whom he allowed to steal and steal again, so long as they enabled him to stay in power. He did not encourage them (they needed no encouragement); he did not condone them; but he looked the other way far too often for us to believe in his innocence.” 8by8


FIFA’s Captain Clings to the Helm of His Sinking Ship

September 27, 2015

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“When Sepp Blatter was re-elected president of FIFA this spring, he trotted out one of his favorite metaphors. In his 17th year in charge of the organization, and brushing aside a raging corruption scandal, Mr. Blatter boasted that he would navigate FIFA’s rocky waters and guide world soccer’s governing body safely to the shore. But here is the latest snapshot of the bang-up job this captain has been doing: On Friday, he was huddled deep inside his ship’s hull, meeting in the bilge with top FIFA crew members, as his ship continued to take on water. When Captain Blatter returned to the upper deck later that day, he was greeted by investigators representing Switzerland’s attorney general. They had come aboard with the news that Mr. Blatter was the target of a criminal investigation.” NY Times


Reuniting Palestine

September 24, 2015

“From the Palestinian national team’s debut at the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia to this summer’s diplomatic effort to suspend Israel from FIFA, football has become an important instrument for the Palestinians to reach an international audience and gain recognition. During this summer, football has emphasised the division between Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestine Cup, a two-legged match between Itthiad Shajaiya from Gaza and Ahli Al-Khalil from Hebron, the Cup winners in both Palestinian territories determined which team would qualify for the AFC Cup and represent Palestine internationally. For the first time in 15 years, a club from the Gaza Strip could travel to the West Bank for a match, and vice versa. This game was to become an instrument for internal healing and reunification of a politically divided Palestinian people.” Football Pink


Top FIFA Executive Jérôme Valcke Placed on Leave Amid Corruption Investigation

September 20, 2015

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“Jérôme Valcke, the second-ranking official at FIFA, was placed on immediate leave and will be investigated for allegations of corruption involving the black-market sale of World Cup tickets, the association announced Thursday. FIFA, global soccer’s governing body, announced Mr. Valcke’s departure in a brief statement posted on its website. It said that Mr. Valcke had been relieved of his duties effective immediately and that FIFA had been ‘made aware of a series of allegations involving the secretary general and has requested a formal investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee.’” NY Times


Wales, Iceland, and Wait, Who? Your Not-Quite-Last-Minute Guide to Euro 2016 Qualifying

September 8, 2015

“You know what’s not fun? Having to go a weekend without club soccer, yet this is the reality the gods1 of FIFA and UEFA have cast upon us over the next few days. But you know what is fun? International tournaments. You might remember exciting events such as last summer’s Women’s World Cup, when the USWNT kicked ass and Carli Lloyd finally became a household name. Or perhaps you recall the summer before, when Germany made David Luiz cry. If evoking either of those memories makes you yearn for the past, do not fret: After two summers of World Cups, the European Championships kick off in June 2016.” Grantland


Argentine Businessman Pleads Not Guilty in FIFA Corruption Case

August 1, 2015

“Turning over his two passports to federal agents, Alejandro Burzaco, a citizen of Argentina and Italy, pleaded not guilty Friday at an arraignment in United States District Court in Brooklyn to charges that he paid millions in bribes to world soccer officials to secure lucrative media and marketing contracts. Mr. Burzaco, one of 14 top soccer officials and businessmen indicted in May on charges of widespread corruption within FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, was the second defendant to be extradited to the United States and the third to appear in federal court in connection with the case. He was not among the seven men arrested in Zurich in May.” NY Times


Fifa: New taskforce announced to tackle corruption

July 20, 2015

“Fifa is to set up a taskforce of 11 people to look at reforming football’s scandal-hit world governing body. Proposals for reform will include term limits for presidents and integrity checks for top officials, president Sepp Blatter announced. Fifa will hold an extraordinary congress to elect its new president on 26 February 2016, he added. Blatter, 79, announced he would stand down in June – just four days after being re-elected president. Blatter’s resignation on 2 June followed the arrest of seven Fifa officials as part of a United States investigation that saw 14 people in total indicted on corruption charges.” BBC


7 strikers that need to be upgraded on FIFA 16

July 14, 2015

“In FIFA, as in football generally, goals are the key to every single match, as long as you get one more goal than your opponent you’ll be fine. In FIFA 15 the outrageous goal was king thanks to some dodgy goalkeeping mechanics. In FIFA 16 we think that problem should be fixed so we expect poachers to become the focal point of a lot of teams. We’ve picked out seven of them who need upgrading in FIFA 16.” Squawka


Sepp Blatter on Sepp Blatter: I’m not corrupt and I’m going to heaven

July 2, 2015

“FIFA ‘President for Life’ Sepp Blatter (née September, hopefully) is an amazing man. But you probably already knew this, especially if you were one of the 13 people who saw the FIFA-financed blockbuster film United Passions, which acutely dissects Blatter’s amazing life from his virgin birth in a manger through the moment he saves humankind. If it wasn’t for Blatter, international soccer on steroids, as we know it today, may not exist. Sponsors wouldn’t be driven to stab people in alleys to get a lucrative piece of real estate on an ad board (allegedly).” Fusion


Sounds silly but Qatar keeping the 2022 World Cup might be the least fucked solution

June 27, 2015

“The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the largest inter-governmental organization in the world after the United Nations, describes itself as the ‘collective voice of the Muslim world.’ With 57 member states on four continents, the OIC seeks to ‘safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.’ It’s a noble-sounding endeavor, tone-wise, and in line with the mission statements of almost every other notable inter-governmental organization designed, in theory, to foster global harmony, understanding, and puppy GIF feelings.” Fusion


Going, Going, Gone: Sepp Blatter Resigns

June 4, 2015

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“Yesterday, Sepp Blatter resigned as president of FIFA. It would be easy and cheap to gloat about this; it would also be fun, so let’s do it. Blatter’s reign of merry larceny had seemed like it would go on forever. He’d been reelected for a fifth term only the previous week, despite the blinking neon elephant of a U.S.-led corruption investigation that resulted in the arrests of several powerful FIFA officials two days before the election. He’d been widely loathed and tangled in scandal from literally the moment he rose to power in 1998, when he refused to address rumors that his Qatari backers paid $50,000 for votes on his behalf. He always seemed to enjoy it, as though winking at critics and dancing around accusations was a hobby he tackled with zest. It gave his charm a little sparkle of superiority. It was one of the things that made him so pink.” Grantland – Brian Phillips

How a curmudgeonly old reporter exposed the FIFA scandal that toppled Sepp Blatter
“The biggest news story of the year was breaking, but the journalist responsible was fast asleep. It was just after dawn on May 27 when Andrew Jennings’s phone began ringing. Swiss police had just launched a startling raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich, arresting seven top FIFA officials and charging them and others with running a $150 million racket. The world was stunned. The waking world, that is. If Jennings had bothered to climb out of bed, he wouldn’t have been surprised at the news. After all, he was the man who set the investigation in motion, with a book in 2006, ‘FOUL! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals,’ followed by an exposé aired on the BBC’s ‘Panorama’ program that same year, and then another book in 2014, called ‘Omerta: Sepp Blatter’s FIFA Organised Crime Family.’” Washington Post

FIFA’s corruption is not going to ruin your soccer
“Last week’s events could have been a turning point. After the United States issued indictments against 14 senior members of FIFA, the organization could have chosen to move in a different direction, toward change, toward reform, toward decency. The remaining members might have ousted the incumbent, the man who led FIFA, guardians of the world’s most popular sport, toward its current charges of corruption and deceit. Instead, FIFA elected Sepp Blatter to his fourth term as president. A mere four days later, the man FIFA had just endorsed abruptly announced his intention to resign.” Soccer Football

Ex-FIFA Official Jack Warner Threatens to Spill ‘Avalanche’ of Secrets
“Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice president who was among 14 people indicted by a United States grand jury as part of an inquiry into corruption in world soccer, says he knows why the organization’s president, Sepp Blatter, announced plans to step down from soccer’s governing body. ‘Blatter knows why he fell. And if anyone else knows, I do,’ Mr. Warner said in his home country of Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, referring to Mr. Blatter’s decision this week to resign after 17 years at the helm of FIFA, soccer’s governing body. Mr. Warner, who said he feared for his own life, also said he had evidence linking FIFA to his country’s 2010 election.” NY Times


Sepp Blatter to Resign as FIFA President

June 2, 2015

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“Sepp Blatter, who led world soccer’s governing body for 17 years and had just won re-election for a fifth four-year term, resigned his position at a hastily called news conference in Zurich on Tuesday evening in the wake of an international corruption inquiry. In a short speech delivered at the headquarters of FIFA, which oversees global soccer, Mr. Blatter said that ‘FIFA needs a profound restructuring’ and that he had decided to step away from the organization for which he had worked in various positions for 40 years. Mr. Blatter, 79, who spoke in French, then referred to his recent re-election by FIFA’s 209 member nations when he said, ‘Although the members of FIFA have given me the new mandate, this mandate does not seem to be supported by everybody in the world of football.’ …”
NY Times, The Rise and Fall of Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter to resign as Fifa president amid corruption scandal
“Sepp Blatter says he will resign as president of football’s governing body Fifa amid a corruption scandal. In announcing his exit, the 79-year-old Swiss has called an extraordinary Fifa congress “as soon as possible” to elect a new president. Blatter was re-elected last week, despite seven top Fifa officials being arrested two days before the vote as part of a US prosecution. But he said: ‘My mandate does not appear to be supported by everybody.'” BBC (Video)

John Oliver and Last Week Tonight went after FIFA again
“Soccer fan and HBO’s Last Week Tonight host John Oliver isn’t afraid of taking FIFA to task for, well, being FIFA. Two weeks ago, Oliver provided a brief update on the troubled non-profit organization in advance of its presidential elections. But now that the election is over and FIFA has overwhelmingly voted to give ‘President for Life’ Sepp Blatter a fifth term, Oliver and his team have brandished the knives once again. Apparently, no one is safe. This time, those caught in the Last Week Tonight wake include alleged FBI snitch and acclaimed cat person Chuck Blazer, the spectacularly and often hilariously allegedly corrupt former CONCACAF ringmaster Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, as well as FIFA’s corporate sponsors. …” Fusion (Video)

Sepp Blatter to resign FIFA presidency
“In a stunning announcement made at a hastily called news conference Tuesday in Zurich, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he will resign after FIFA elects a new leader at an ‘extraordinary congress’ that will be called by the organization’s executive committee. The election will be at least four months away, a FIFA official announced. FIFA’s next congress, at which such decisions usually are made, is not until next May in Mexico, but FIFA announced its desire to speed up the process in order to put the scandal in the past.” Washington Post (Video)

These 5 alternatives to Sepp Blatter are just as likely to fix a broken system
“For the past week, the soccer community has been discussing the FIFA investigations, indictments and arrests in a way that’s made me want to do the unthinkable and delete my Twitter account. The rhetoric from soccer journalists, commentators, and outside observers has come across like a public contest to decide who can most poetically (or angrily, if you like your takes hot n’ fresh) make painfully obvious points like ‘bribery is bad,’ ‘Qatar is a weird place to play soccer,’ and ‘women are people, too’ sound like groundbreaking shit. I hate it, but at the same time, I understand the struggle.” Fusion

Salt Lake Olympic, global finance scandals hint charging FIFA execs could prove much easier than punishing them
“On June 8, 1998, two days before Brazil opened France’s World Cup with a 2-1 win over Scotland, a former head of the World Society of Friends of Suspenders from rural Switzerland was elected as FIFA president. Sepp Blatter’s rise to power has proved to be a pivotal moment in modern sports history, but it was far from the biggest sports governance story of the year. That came in that winter, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was mired in a scandal related to its award of the 2002 Winter Olympics to Salt Lake City.” Fusion

How Fifa can find a new direction and start the clean-up of corruption
“The 161-page indictment of 14 Fifa officials and marketing executives is pretty repetitive. They are accused of a simple scheme to extract bribes and kickbacks, repeated many times over. National football associations, federations and confederations own the broadcast and marketing rights to the national teams that everyone likes to follow. The elected officials in these organisations are supposed to use the revenues they generate to support the development of the game – but many seem to want to enrich themselves instead.” Guardian


Britain’s “other” national team: Ellan Vannin

June 2, 2015

“The four national teams of the United Kingdom are supposedly England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Each with its own FIFA affiliated side, these nations have spanned generations and produced some wonderful footballers, and in the case of England have even won the FIFA World Cup, triumphing by a margin of 4-2 over West Germany in 1966 – a fond memory to those who witnessed that historic match.” Football Pink


FIFA’s Sepp Blatter Has Finally Met His Match

May 29, 2015

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“When I heard about the latest accusations of corruption against FIFA, the global governing body of soccer, my initial reaction was to think of Captain Renault’s disingenuous response to gambling at Rick’s Café in the movie ‘Casablanca.’ Like many other long-suffering soccer fans, I was ‘shocked, shocked!‘ to learn that the U.S. Justice Department had charged nine FIFA officials with conspiring to enrich themselves through such practices as selling their services to the highest bidder, siphoning off millions of dollars in ‘sports marketing contracts,’ funnelling money through offshore shell companies, and, in some cases, receiving suitcases full of cash.”
New Yorker (Video)
NY Times: Crisis-Hit FIFA Prepares to Vote on Whether to Keep Sepp Blatter as Chief
NY Times: How the Indicted Officials Fit Into FIFA (Video)
NY Times: After Indicting 14 Soccer Officials, U.S. Vows to End Graft in FIFA (Video)
World Soccer: Sepp Blatter

A guide to the FIFA corruption scandal for the athletically illiterate
“Sports, amirite? Probably not. As a lifelong self-identified indoor kid, I initially had no idea what was happening with this whole FIFA corruption thing. But, as a lover of scandal, I wanted to understand. If you’re anything like me, you do, too. So, here’s a guide to everything you need to know about the insanity that’s brewing in the soccer world right now, tailor-made for the athletically illiterate. You can do this.” Fusion

‘Rampant, Systemic, and Deep-Rooted’: A Sting in Zurich Finally Targets FIFA Corruption
“It went down, in the end, like a scene in some 1920s comic novel, Wallander reimagined by Wodehouse: Swiss law enforcement officers politely stormed in through the revolving door of the Baur au Lac, a five-star hotel in downtown Zurich, and surrounded the concierge’s desk. They politely requested the room numbers of several FIFA officials in town for the soccer organization’s annual congress. Then they went to the rooms and politely arrested the occupants. They knocked rather than barged in. They gave the officials time to pack and get dressed. They let members of the hotel staff — ‘wearing suit coats with tails,’ as the New York Times reported — erect a barricade of white bedsheets to shield the arrested men from photographs. After a few minutes, they loaded the soccer officials into small, fuel-efficient hatchbacks and politely whisked them away.” Grantland – Brian Phillips

Soccer Superpower
“On July 4, 1988, at a hotel in a suburb of Zurich, the executive committee of soccer’s governing body, FIFA, awarded the right to host the World Cup to the United States. The country was a fútbol backwater. Its last pro league—the one that had imported Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, and other aging international stars—had folded four years earlier. Its men’s national team hadn’t qualified for a World Cup since 1950; stocked with collegians, it was on the cusp of being eliminated from regional qualifying for the 1990 tournament. Its women’s national team, hastily assembled three years earlier, had played just a handful of games.” Slate


FIFA Inquiry Yields Indictments; U.S. Officials Vow to Pursue More

May 27, 2015

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“United States law enforcement officials declared in forceful terms on Wednesday that their broad investigation of FIFA had only begun and pledged to rid the international soccer organization of systemic corruption. The Justice Department, F.B.I. and I.R.S. described soccer’s governing body in terms normally reserved for Mafia families and drug cartels, saying that top officials treated FIFA business decisions as chits to be traded for personal wealth. One soccer official took in more than $10 million in bribes, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said. The schemes involving the fraud included the selection of South Africa as the host of the 2010 World Cup; the 2011 FIFA presidential elections; and several sports-marketing deals.” NY Times (Video)

FIFA: U.S. alleges corruption, indicts 14; Switzerland opens separate probe
“‘The indictment also alleges that corruption and bribery extended to the 2011 presidential FIFA election, and to agreements regarding sponsorship of the Brazilian national soccer team by a major U.S. sportswear company,’ U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters in New York on Wednesday while providing details about the U.S. corruption investigation into FIFA officials and others. FIFA executives and others used bribes to influence where the 2010 World Cup would be held, Lynch told reporters Wednesday while providing details about the U.S. corruption investigation of FIFA. The 2010 World Cup was held in South Africa.” CNNN (Video)

Fifa officials corrupted football – US prosecutors
“US prosecutors have accused several officials from football’s governing body Fifa of racketeering, fraud and money laundering involving tens of millions of dollars over 24 years. Prosecutors said they had discovered a dozen schemes, including one awarding the 2010 World Cup to South Africa. Fourteen people have been indicted, with seven held in Zurich on Wednesday. Fifa president Sepp Blatter is not among them. Fifa still intends to hold its presidential election on Friday. However, European football body Uefa has called for the election to be postponed and said it would decide on Thursday whether to boycott the congress. Mr Blatter is seeking re-election and is favoured to win a fifth term.” BBC (Video)


Sepp Blatter says protesting sporting events doesn’t work. Sepp Blatter is wrong.

March 22, 2015

“FIFA ‘President for Life’ Sepp Blatter wants all of you people talking about World Cup boycotts to know: He’s not trying to hear that noise. According to Blatter, boycotts are nonsense. The only thing that can heal the demons plaguing the world is the glorious, magical FIFA World Cup. It’s Robitussin for the masses.” Fusion