Sunday, May 22, 2011

FIFA World Cup selections

It's nice to see that even The Economist in its May 14th, 2011 edition has tackled the issue of corruption in FIFA World Cup selections in its article:
"The not-so-beautiful game, offside".

The article basically talks about how the 2018 and 2022 World Cup selections, respectively in Russia and in Qatar, have been quite possibly tied to corruption with some of FIFA's 22 executive members having been caught up in bribes and what not.

The Economist actually proposes the following as a way to discourage corruption when it comes to choosing the next World Cup venue: "Time to blow the whistle and put the right to host the World Cup on eBay". Well done, it'd be about time too!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I’m wondering just how much journalists know and/or are involved in international conspiracies (such as the death of Lady Di. In all these years, whatever happened to her bodyguard? Where’s the book on what happened that night? The movie? The interviews?).

Roberto Baggio and his “failed” penalty kick at the Rose Bowl (I was in that same stadium five years later for the women’s U.S.-China final. It was well over 40 degrees C° as I had been Italy’s interpreter during that magnificent event. That final was tied to a political event which had happened in May, 1999: the “accidental” bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade by (US) Nato planes. After the final, which was won by the U.S., Bill Clinton went to the Chinese dressing room to congratulate the players. The image was shot back to China where together with 100 million Chinese, then president Jiang Zemin was also watching that final. Two months later the two met in Australia, and Zemin referred to Clinton as “My friend Bill”! “Panem et Circenses”, said once the Ancient Romans and their games at the Coliseum!).

Baggio had been Italy’s most prolific penalty-kicker in the Serie A. Only two nations go into the USA’94 final with three victories each. Who’ll win the title a record four times, Brazil or Italy? Who was FIFA’s president in 1994? Joao Havelange, with his son-in-law the president of the Brazilian FA (and still today too, Ricardo Teixeira. Also, Fernando Cardoso was Brazil’s finance minister. Just shortly, Brazil had changed its currency. One the way of euphoria after Brazil’s 4th World Cup title, the first for any nation out there, Cardoso became Brazil’s president…).

Who was Italy’s president in 1994? Antonio Matarrese, also a FIFA vice-president, and therefore an “employee” of FIFA (and Havelange). Matarrese by the way was called also a “Mafioso” by Maradona in Emir Kusturica’s wonderful documentary on his life. It’ll be “The Emperor’s” (Havelange) last World Cup event as Blatter, his trustworthy Secretary-General, will take over from him in 1998. In fact, there was Blatter as FIFA president at the World Cup in France in 1998.

Go back to Italia’90. Who eliminated Brazil from that Word Cup event (n.b. I was Korea’s interpreter in Udine during the 1990 W.C.)? Maradona’s Argentina (and Don Diego was then “eliminated” then from USA’94 with the anti-doping test?). No way in hell was Havelange yet AGAIN going to have his plans of inter-galactic fame ruined either by Don Diego or Don Roberto (admittedly, Havelange had been the world’s most POWERFUL man in international sports during that period).

And so along came Baggio and his “missile” over the cross-bar (after 120 minutes played in sweltering heat and with a pulled hamstring, he had enough energy to shoot that ball OVER the x-bar?). Ditto for Baresi (“crocodile” tears afterwards on the shoulders of Sacchi and Co.) and also if I’m not mistaken Massaro.

So just how much was Baggio “ordered” (or paid) by Havelange and the boys to miss that penalty kick (n.b. he invested quite a LOT of money after USA’94 in his ranch in Argentina)? Don’t believe me? You know as much as I do that you can do quite a LOT of things with money (a hooker for example won’t go with you because she loves you or just because you may be a nice guy. She goes to bed with you because you pay her!).

As far as the Mafia-style mentality that reigned in that World Cup (and all others, note also what’s happened recently with corruption and the 2018 event), I one watches the movie, “I Cento Passi”, with Italian actor Luigi Lo Cascio. It’s one of my favourite and it deals with the true story of a young kid in Sicily, Peppino Impastato, who wanted to take on the powerful boss of his town, Don Tano Badalamenti (he had been caught up in the famous Pizza Connection affair in the U.S. and Sicily). You shall see a scene where Peppino’s father, a small-time Mafioso himself, is called by Don Tano to join him for a “coffee”. As he shows up, there around the table are other Mafiosi. Don Tano is at the head of the table with a small radio in his hands. He’s listening to Peppino who on a radical radio show is insulting and cutting him to bits. A BIG no-no! You then see Peppino’s father, having to listen to this, who literally makes a large “gulping” sound, as though to say: “Oh boy, are we ever in deep sh….”! He then goes home and beats the hell out of his son, who naturally doesn’t agree with the ways of his father nor of the Mafia, and continues to publicly criticize Don Tano.

And how did Peppino end up? “Suicided” on a railroad track. The mafia actually tied him up with explosives and he “blew up”! Does one really think that Matarrese was going to be another Peppino, and in front of 2 billion people, upstage “The Emperor” Havelange?

I really don’t think so….

Corruption in Africa?

From the November 27th edition of “The Economist” on soccer, FIFA and corruption in Africa.