Former Guatemalan soccer head sentenced in FIFA scandal

admin   •   February 6, 2019   •   7054

Former Guatemalan football chief Brayan Jimenez  in New York, New York, United States on February 5, 2019 | Reuters

 Former Guatemalan football chief Brayan Jimenez was sentenced to time served on Tuesday (February 5) and ordered to forfeit $350,000 of proceeds from his crimes at Brooklyn federal court for his part in a FIFA bribery scandal, court spokesman John Marzulli told Reuters.

Jimenez, also a former member of a FIFA committee for fair play and social responsibility, was among several dozen officials who were indicted in the United States in 2015, sparking the biggest corruption scandal in the history of the global soccer body.

He pleaded guilty to racketeering and corruption charges before a U.S. judge in 2017 and was banned from the sport for life.

Jimenez was accused of taking bribes from sports marketing companies in relation to the award of television and sponsorship rights for World Cup qualifiers in Central America, and for Guatemala’s participation in international friendlies.

Outside of the courthouse, Jimenez said he hoped his experience would be a cautionary tale and would lead to cleaning up FIFA.

The U.S. district attorney said at the time of Jimenez’s plea bargain that the bribes he accepted totalled “hundreds of thousands of dollars”.
— Reuters

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Mega-events may get less ambitious as Brazil counts World Cup costs

admin   •   June 13, 2014

National soccer players from Brazil (L) and Croatia enter the stadium before their 2014 World Cup opening match at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo June 12, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/PAULO WHITAKER

(Reuters) – Plagued by delays and opposition at home, the World Cup in Brazil might be a turning point for sporting mega-events, forcing soccer’s governing body and the International Olympic Committee to accept less ambitious bids to reduce the risk of public backlash.

Described by Brazil’s government as “the Cup to end all Cups,” the tournament kicked off on Thursday to a backdrop of controversy and concern.

The world soccer organization, FIFA, is facing corruption allegations over how Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup as well as match-fixing claims, fewer countries are keen to host big events and even some sponsors are starting to question the “halo effect” of associating with them.

Ever since the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, which set the gold standard, large sporting events have been increasingly used to drive infrastructure projects and try to regenerate cities.

Sports economists and sources inside FIFA say Brazil, the most expensive World Cup ever at an estimated cost of $11.3 billion, has shown both the limits and the risks of this model.

Although the nature of the bidding process means countries able to splurge on state-of-the-art stadiums will still attract support, there is a growing sense among the populations of cities and nations considering being hosts for major sporting events that bigger is not always better.

“I think we are at a turning point in the history of mega-events and I think the turning point will lead to a very much reduced ambition towards infrastructure connected with these events,” said Wolfgang Maennig, a professor at Hamburg University who specializes in sports economics.

For Maennig, who won Olympic gold at Seoul 1988 as a German rower, big sporting events have become so political and controversial they risk losing both corporate sponsors and countries willing to host them.

He points to the IOC’s difficulty in finding a country to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics. Germany’s Munich and Switzerland’s St. Moritz-Davos both withdrew planned bids when people in the two places voted ‘no’ in referendums, leaving the IOC scrambling for a suitable candidate.

In Brazil, which will also host the 2016 Olympics, protests and strikes have dominated the public mood since millions took to the streets during a World Cup warm-up last June to bemoan poor public services.

“The positive to be taken out of Brazil is that we have learnt from it and will do things differently next time,” one FIFA source said. The source added that FIFA should have insisted that Brazil cut the number of host cities from 12, which would have reduced the number of potential problems with unfinished infrastructure, and made good on the threat to move games if venues weren’t quite ready for prime time.

Soccer’s European body UEFA has already got the message – reducing the burden on any one country for its European Championship, with the 2020 tournament to be played in 13 cities across Europe.

FLAT-OUT NERVOUS

For sponsors the equation may be changing too, as negative headlines have swelled from the usual trickle to a flood.

Sponsors took the rare decision to speak out on the corruption probe into Qatar’s bid, with Adidas saying the negative debate around FIFA “is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners.” Coca-Cola was similarly outspoken.

“The minute soccer moves from the sports pages to the political pages I think sponsors have to get concerned because their message is getting crowded,” said David Carter, director of the Sports Business Institute at the University of Southern California.

“People are flat-out nervous,” he said. “The last thing you can afford when you’re investing hundreds of millions of dollars into a global sports opportunity is to have to cross your fingers and hope for it to turn out alright.”

Carter said the price FIFA commands from sponsors was at risk of going down if they saw less benefit from being directly connected with FIFA and the World Cup. Still, that is unlikely to happen anytime soon given that sponsorship deals are usually organized over many tournaments – Adidas for example has signed up as a FIFA sponsor until 2030.

And the mega-events remain very healthy on some levels. For example, the prices for television rights have continued to rise with little sign of abating.

Sixty percent of Brazilians now think hosting the Cup is bad for Brazil, according to a recent poll, and thousands have marched nationwide carrying banners telling FIFA to “go home.”

Brazil may have exploded with street parties as its team won the opening game on Thursday but scattered violent protests were a reminder that many locals remain angry over the cost of the tournament.

One source working at a leading World Cup sponsor said the firm had been forced to change its marketing strategy in response to public negativity surrounding this year’s event.

However, Andrew Sneyd, an executive at World Cup sponsor Budweiser responsible formarketing, was more upbeat on Brazil, saying it was Budweiser’s largest campaign to date and no adjustments had been made in response to local opposition.

CHANGE NOT EASY

Changing the way these events are structured is not easy.

In countries other than the most advanced soccer economies like Britain or Germany, stadiums have to be built and infrastructure improved to put on events like the World Cup.

The challenge is how to make them less ambitious and less controversial without excluding developing nations who almost always need to invest heavily to get venues up to standard.

A different FIFA source said there was a growing awareness of the social and economic responsibility that came with putting on the World Cup but that the bidding process remained one of faith – you have to trust the country chosen will deliver on its promises.

Still, the tide seems to be turning because of growing popular resistance to huge spending on sporting events.

For Maennig the answer lies in bids that are more collaborative with the local population.

“I am pushing my home city Berlin to have a completely different Olympic bid (for 2024) by asking residents to participate in an Olympic concept they would be in favor of,” he said.

(Editing by Todd Benson, Kieran Murray and Martin Howell)

Sao Paulo metro strike to continue Monday despite court ruling

admin   •   June 10, 2014

A soccer fan holds a Brazilian flag in front of two policemen outside Ana Rosa subway station during the fifth day of metro worker’s protest in Sao Paulo June 9, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/KAI PFAFFENBACH

(Reuters) – Sao Paulo’s metro workers voted to stay off work for a fifth day on Monday even after a court declared the strike illegal, complicating preparations for the World Cup opening match.

Another vote on the strike was scheduled for Monday at 1 p.m. local time (1600 GMT), after a rally in downtown Sao Paulo in which they will be joined by homeless’ workers and other social movements.

“The (metro workers’) union sent an official request to President Dilma Rousseff asking her to help the category reopen talks with the (Sao Paulo) state government,” which controls the subway system, the union said in a note on Sunday.

A court on Sunday set a 500,000 reais penalty ($223,000) for each day they stay off work from Monday. It also declared the strike illegal, paving the way for state-owned Companhia do Metropolitano de Sao Paulo to lay off striking workers.

Metro workers’ demand a 12 percent pay rise, but Metro has offered 8.7 percent.

With major subway lines closed since Thursday, commuting in Brazil’s largest city has been chaotic.

The strike snagged several FIFA officials in over two hours of traffic as they arrived for a conference ahead of the World Cup last week, which kicks off with a Brazil v Croatia match in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

On Friday, police used tear gas to break up a demonstration blocking access to one metro station. [ID:nL1N0ON0UG]

Frustration with broken promises and the ballooning cost of new World Cup stadiums contributed to widespread protests that drew over a million Brazilians into the streets during a warm-up tournament last year. This year, the largest demonstrations so far have been from homeless groups and striking workers using the backdrop of the World Cup to press their causes.

($1 = 2.24 Brazilian reais)

(Reporting by Silvio Cascione and Camila Moreira; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Team Brazil, suportado ng mga mamamayan sa kabila ng mga protesta

admin   •   May 28, 2014

FILE PHOTO: Team Brazil (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

FILE PHOTO: Team Brazil (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Suportado pa rin ng mga mamamayan ng Brasil ang kanilang koponan sa kabila ng mga kilos protesta kaugnay sa napakalaking pondo na inilaan ng pamahalaan para sa nalalapit na FIFA World Cup 2014.

Ayon kay Carlos Alberto Parreira, technical director ng Brazil National Team, malaking tulong para sa mga manlalaro ang ipinakikita at ipinararamdam na suporta ng kanilang mga kababayan.

“The national team is part of our cultural heritage and will count on the support of the Brazilian tulong para sa mga manlalaro ang ipinakikita at ipinararamdam na suporta ng kanilang mga kababayan.population throughout the World Cup.”

Ngayong taon ang ikalawang pagkakataon na maghost ang Brazil sa FIFA World Cup kaya’t inaasahan ng marami na makukuha ng Team Brazil ang ika-anim nitong tropeyo bilang kampiyon.

Taong 1950 nang unang mag-host ang Brazil sa FIFA World Cup.

Nakamit naman ng Brazil football team ang kanilang limang championship noong 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 at 2002.

Samantala, pinayuhan rin ng mga organizer ang mga manonood sa mga nakatakdang games na pumunta ng maaga sa venue dahil inaasahan nila ang pagdagsa ng mga tao partikular sa opening games.

Unang makakaharap ng Team Brazil ang Team Croatia sa opening game ng FIFA World Cup 2014 na gaganapin sa Arena de São Paulo sa São Paulo sa Hunyo 12, araw sa Brazil habang Hunyo 13 naman sa Pilipinas. (Dave Tirao / Ruth Navales, UNTV News)

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