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SBD Global/June 6, 2014/International FootballPrint All
UEFA President Michel Platini "has joined calls for a re-vote" on the host nation for the 2022 World Cup "if allegations of corruption against Qatar’s successful bid are proved," according to Tom Farmery of the LONDON TIMES. Platini's position is significant "because he voted for the Gulf state to host the tournament." He told L’Equipe “if corruption is proven, it will take a new vote and sanctions.” Platini has "come under scrutiny" this week after allegations that he attended a secret meeting with former FIFA exec Mohamed Bin Hammam before the World Cup vote in '10. Platini: “I read, ‘Platini corrupt?’ in all the newspapers, on news agency wires, on blogs. Honestly, it hurts. I now realize that in the background there is somebody, something, people organizing all this. I can feel it” (LONDON TIMES, 6/5). In London, Watt, Newell & Bryant reported Platini said that "he had been open and transparent about his vote for Qatar," but no one knew who FIFA President Sepp Blatter "had supported." Platini: “It was a game of liar’s poker.” FIFA’s decision to hand the World Cup to Qatar "is becoming one of the most controversial decisions in sporting history" (TELEGRAPH, 6/5). The AP reported Platini "stopped short of accusing anyone at Fifa of involvement." Platini: “I have no proof. I don’t know who is behind all this. But I think lots of interests are at stake, for those at FIFA, for those who want to be there” and “without doubt also for those who want us to overturn the attribution of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.” Platini said that "none of this would influence his decision" on whether to challenge Blatter for FIFA presidency (AP, 6/5).
GIFT GIVING: In London, Farmery & Brown reported Blatter and other senior FIFA figures "were under growing pressure" to explain payments and gifts linked to Bin Hammam. The U.S government "could intervene" after it emerged that the Asian Football Confederation at the center of the growing scandal "has been warned that it could have breached strict sanctions on Iran and North Korea, as well as bribery laws." FIFA VP Jim Boyce "defended his colleagues," saying officials may accept payments provided they were “small.” Boyce: “I’m sure when the prime minister or the Queen go somewhere they get a gift from somebody but that’s not a bribe.” Shadow Sports Minister Clive Efford "called for a wholesale review" of FIFA’s gift and payments culture. Efford: "FIFA is rotten to the core" (LONDON TIMES, 6/5).
NEW ZEALAND LINK: In New Zealand, Simon Plumb reported New Zealand Football CEO Andy Martin "wants transparency around the latest allegations to hit the Oceania Football Confederation." But the OFC itself "remains silent on the allegations involving its former boss Reynald Temarii." Four years after Temarii was cleared of corruption charges by FIFA's ethics committee, The Sunday Times said it now had a "huge email cache" of secrets over how Qatar won the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. One of its 11 pages of reporting -- sub-headed "The Pacific Link" -- was "devoted to the OFC and Temarii." Martin said that "he wanted to see the facts emerge and the situation handled transparently." Martin: "New Zealand Football was unaware of the fresh allegations made by The Sunday Times. We're working with Oceania Football to understand the situation in more detail ahead of the FIFA congress in Brazil next week" (STUFF, 6/5). REUTERS' Greg Stutchbury reported Oceania said that it "would be unable to make any public statements" until FIFA investigator Michael Garcia had presented his report to the ethics committee. In a statement, the OFC said, "Stories concerning the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 bidding process have appeared in the media this week" (REUTERS, 6/5). The AFP reported Garcia "has met Qatari officials as part of his probe into alleged graft in the voting process." Garcia met a Qatari delegation in a hotel in Muscat on Wednesday, a source said, adding that the FIFA "corruption buster" continued talks Thursday (AFP, 6/5).
THAILAND DENIALS: The AFP also reported Thailand energy company PTT "has denied" that Thai FA President Worawi Makudi "played a role in the company’s trade deal with Qatar." The London Telegraph reported on Tuesday that Bin Hammam "discussed trade deals with many of the officials and countries who were eligible to vote in the World Cup decision in 2010, including a gas deal" with PTT. The contract "had nothing to with Worawi." PTT President/CEO Pailin Chuchottaworn said in a statement, “The deal was made in October 2012 which was two years after the Fifa vote to select the 2022 World Cup host in December 2010" (AFP, 6/5).
A new survey shows that few Brazilians see hosting the the World Cup "as advantageous for their country," according to Marjorie Connelly of the N.Y. TIMES. In the survey by the Pew Research Center, 61% of respondents said that holding the competition in Brazil "was bad for the country because it took resources from schools, health care and other public services." Just 34% said that the World Cup, whose events will be held in 12 cities, "would create jobs and help the economy." Brazilians "are also split over how the World Cup will affect the country’s image around the world." Thirty-five percent said that "it would enhance Brazil’s position," 39% said that "it would hurt Brazil," and 23% said that "it would have no effect" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/5). REUTERS reported Brazilians "will be left with some of the world's costliest" football stadiums and few of the public transport improvements they were promised when the final whistle blows. The "signature project in public transportation was to be Latin America's first bullet train," a $16B high-speed rail service linking Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. It "never made it off the drawing board." Gil Castello Branco of Contas Abertas, a private group that monitors government spending, said, "The jump to modernity never happened, and the stadiums are a herd of white elephants" (REUTERS, 6/5). XINHUA reported only six of the 12 World Cup stadiums "will offer free wi-fi so fans can connect to the Internet from the bleachers." According to the union of Brazilian telecom firms, Sinditelebrasil, wi-fi service "will not be ready in time at the stadiums in Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Recife, Curitiba and Natal." Brazilian officials "wanted to turn all the stadiums into wi-fi hotspots to avoid overloading the 2G, 3G or 4G services during the games, but succeeded in equipping only the venues in Brasilia, Porto Alegre, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Manaus and Cuiaba" (XINHUA, 6/3).
THAILAND WORLD CUP FEVER: In Bangkok, Wassana Nanuam wrote football fans in Thailand "have to watch the World Cup tournament at home due to the curfew, unless they are in tourist areas where the restriction has been lifted." After the National Council for Peace and Order lifted the night curfew in Pattaya City, Koh Samui in Surat Thani province and Phuket island on Tuesday to help the tourism industry, "football fanatics were hopeful the junta would also give them a break by easing the curfew elsewhere during the tournament in Brazil." NCPO spokesperson Winthai Suwaree "brought down their hopes on Thursday." He said that the World Cup is not the only factor for consideration, "as the junta also looked at security concerns when deciding the fate of the curfew" (BANGKOK POST, 6/5). The BANGKOK POST reported a survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce revealed that Thais are expected to spend nearly 70B baht ($2.1B), "more than half of it gambling on results, while following the World Cup 2014 tournament in Brazil." UTCC Economic and Business Forecast Center Dir Thanavath Phonvichai said that "spending was projected to be 16% higher than for the last World Cup four years ago" (BANGKOK POST, 6/5).