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Volume 6 No. 192

International Football

The man tasked with cleaning up FIFA's corrupt governance accused the organization of sacking him after he ignored attempts by FIFA President Gianni Infantino to exert "undue influence" on him, according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. Miguel Maduro, who was ousted as the head of the governing body’s independent governance committee in May, told a parliamentary inquiry Infantino "tried to stop him barring" Russian Deputy PM Vitaly Mutko from standing for election to its council. Maduro said that senior officials "were even sent to warn him" that next summer's World Cup in Russia "would be a disaster" unless he backed off and that this would put Infantino's presidency of FIFA "in jeopardy." In what was "damning testimony, which cast more doubt than ever" on the organization's commitment to reform, Maduro accused the Swiss of "placing his own political survival ahead of the principles of good governance." It was also revealed at the select committee hearing that FIFA "refused to allow" sacked chief investigator Cornel Borbély to appear before Parliament alongside Maduro, citing "confidentiality clauses in his contract." Committee Chair Damian Collins said, "People can draw their own conclusions as to why FIFA would seek to restrict someone from freely giving evidence to a national parliament when there is clear public interest in the subject matter" (London TELEGRAPH, 9/13). In London, David Conn reported Maduro said that Infantino "failed to uphold the independent reforms against resistance from powerful figures" inside FIFA. The governing body, Maduro argued, is "incapable of abiding by its own new anti-corruption structures" and needs "outside pressure" to reform. The governance committee's decision to bar Mutko was the "key confrontation." Maduro said that he was "very clear" in his response that his governance committee was following FIFA's rules on "political neutrality" and exercising its judgment independently as required. He added that Infantino then responded by email to the committee upholding its conclusion. Maduro said, "The president expressed great concern with that decision." Infantino argued that the committee was "misapplying" FIFA's rules, Maduro said, but added that he "held firm and maintained the decision was correct" (GUARDIAN, 9/13). The BBC reported Maduro also alleged:

  • Some confederations "tried to block full implementation of new rules on electing female committee members."
  • Half of the governance committee is "currently not independent," as required.
  • In elections, different colored pens "could be distributed to identify how people vote."
  • Egypt's FIFA member, Hany Abo Rida, "threw a party and flew in delegates after being re-elected in May" (BBC, 9/13).

Former Barcelona presidential candidate Agustí Benedito, who is leading a censure motion against current President Josep Maria Bartomeu and the club's board, collected a total of 6,580 signatures from members at the home games on Saturday against Espanyol and on Tuesday against Juventus, according to Luis F. Rojo of MARCA. To force a vote on Bartomeu's future, the group behind the motion needs 16,570 signatures by Oct. 2 (MARCA, 9/13). reported Barcelona predicted its annual revenue will "be close to" the €900M ($1.07B) mark this season as it edges "ever-nearer" to its target of becoming the first club to break the €1B ($1.19B) mark. The Catalan club announced a record revenue of €708M for the '16-17 season earlier this year, which represented an increase of almost €88M on the previous season (, 9/13).

The Football Federation Australia board "could be spared the embarrassment of being overthrown by FIFA" after a majority agreement for a new FFA congress was reached late on Tuesday, but only if its "two fiercest opponents rubber stamp the latest proposal," according to Dominic Bossi of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The "bitter civil war" that has engulfed Australian football for the past year is "one step closer to ending after the nine state football federations are understood to have made a breakthrough by reaching a majority agreement for a new membership structure" of FFA. After being told by FIFA to expand its congress from 10 votes (nine for the states and one for the A-League clubs) to become "sufficiently democratic and inclusive of the game," the majority of FFA's members reached an agreement for a 15-seat congress, ensuring the states retain nine votes, four for A-League clubs, one for Professional Footballers Australia and one for women's football (9-4-1-1). However, approval from FIFA and the end of its involvement in Australian football's governance will "only occur with the blessing of the 9-4-1-1 model" from the A-League club owners and PFA. It is understood that the clubs and PFA are "unlikely to accept the new model on the grounds of accountability." Another issue is the "lack of clarity surrounding the one vote reserved for women's football." All three stakeholders are in agreement for a standalone vote for female participants, but "ambiguity over the state's proposal of who holds that seat at congress has the clubs and PFA hesitant to accept the proposal" (SMH, 9/13).

England women's national football team Manager Mark Sampson's attempts to "clear his name amid allegations he made racial remarks" to two of his players "ended with more embarrassment" for the FA when he contradicted his own evidence from the independent inquiry and had to "face questions that he had been caught saying something patently untrue," according to Daniel Taylor of the London GUARDIAN. The inconsistencies in Sampson’s account "left his employer with a damage-limitation exercise" at the end of a press conference when the England manager -- absolved of any wrongdoing in the two "controversial inquiries" that have prompted calls from Kick It Out and the Professional Footballers’ Association for a new investigation -- said on three separate occasions that "he could not recall any conversation with Eni Aluko in which they had discussed the Ebola virus." Sampson had been asked whether Aluko, who alleged her former manager told her to "make sure her Nigerian relatives did not bring the virus to Wembley," might have "mixed up" another conversation when they talked about Ebola in a different context. His initial response was that "he could not recall any previous conversations involving Ebola" and, to further questions, he "repeated that twice." Yet a previously unseen passage from the independent inquiry shows that Sampson "gave an entirely different version of events" when it was put to him by barrister Katharine Newton that he had been accused of making a "racist joke" to a player who has won 102 caps over an 11-year England career. Sampson’s response on that occasion "was to remember an incident when, he says, they had talked about Ebola in the build-up to England’s game against Mexico in the 2015 World Cup" (GUARDIAN, 9/12). In London, Ben Rumsby reported even when the existence of this evidence was presented to him, Sampson replied, "I can't remember a specific conversation." Only when "pressed further about the apparent contradiction" did Sampson say, "What I made clear in relation to what you’re discussing here was an incident where Eni raised a situation with the team and a group of people." Sampson also "repeated his denials of Aluko’s allegations, although he refused to brand her a liar." He refused as well to say whether he "thought the comments he was alleged to have made" were racist, saying that was "for the players to determine" (TELEGRAPH, 9/12).