Wednesday Kickoff: Blatter admits to political influences in Qatar voting; Casillas plays down knock; and more

SeppBlatterFIFA5 (Marca)

By DAN KARELL

The walking public relations nightmare that is Sepp Blatter has opened his mouth again.

Barely a week after claiming that the bidding nations should have known that the FIFA World Cup isn’t set in stone to take place in June and July, Blatter has now admitted in an interview with German publication Die Zeit that political influences from the governments of certain nations played a role in voting for the 2022 World Cup, which was awarded to Qatar.

“Yes, definitely there was direct political influence,” Blatter told Die Zeit. “European leaders reccomended their voting members to vote for Qatar, because they combine important economic interests with this country.”

Reports in Germany believe that Blatter’s statement is a veiled shot at UEFA President Michel Platini, who admitted that he voted for Qatar in the elections and had enjoyed dinner a few days before the vote with then France Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and then Qatari emir, Hamad Al-Thani.

American attorney Michael Garcia, who is in charge of the FIFA Ethics Committee, is still investigating the allegations of corruption surrounding World Cup voting for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Here are some more stories to start your Wednesday:

CASILLAS PLAYS DOWN RIB INJURY

Real Madrid goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas has played down the rib injury that forced him off fifteen minutes into his first competitive appearance in 238 days.

The Spanish international collided with teammate Sergio Ramos during Real Madrid’s 6-1 rout of Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League and suffered what Real Madrid’s medical team is calling a “bruised left rib.” There were scares following the match that Casillas had suffered broken ribs, but after undergoing tests on Wednesday, he claimed that it was just a knock and that he would be fine.

The 32-year-old goalkeeper has played second fiddle to Diego Lopez in La Liga matches, though it seems likely that manager Carlo Ancelotti will turn to Casillas in Champions League matches. Real Madrid’s next Champions League match is October 2 against FC Copenhagen.

MAN UNITED REPORT REVENUE GROWTH

Manchester United may be in a transition period, with David Moyes and Ed Woodward replacing Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill, respectively, but financially, they’re seemingly doing just fine.

The club announced on Wednesday that in the year ending on June 30, 2013, they had recorded revenues of $578 million, a 13 percent increase from a year before. Man United are projecting the next 365 days to bring in even more money to the club, a number estimated to be between $669 million and $686 million, according to reports.

A large reason for the revenue growth is commercial interests, as Man United has completed no less than 20 different sponsorship deals in the last year, and a new one with American automobile manufacturer Chevrolet as the club’s shirt sponsor will kick in next season. Commercial revenue alone in the prior year grew by 30 percent, to $244 million.

Despite this, the club still do have massive debts to pay over the long term, currently $622 million, though that’s an 11 percent decrease from the year before.

FIFA REJECTS AUSTRALIA’S REQUEST FOR COMPENSATION

Just hours after the Football Federation of Australia demanded publicly that they should be given compensation if the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is moved to the winter months, FIFA responded with a swift and strong, no.

In an interview with The Guardian in England, a FIFA spokeswoman confirmed that Australia nor any of the other bidders for the 2022 World Cup would receive any compensation from the governing body if the switch to a winter tournament is made.

“As part of the bidding documents all bidders, including the FA Australia, accepted that the format and dates of the staging of the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup, though initially expected to be in June/July, remains subject to the final decision of the FIFA Organizing Committee,” the spokeswoman said to the Guardian. “There is no ground for any speculations.”

QUICK KICKS

Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp admitted that before Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis hired Rafa Benitez to be manager, de Laurentiis called the German boss first. (REPORT)

Liverpool have been delivered a blow as Philippe Coutinho has been ruled out until late October following an injury to his shoulder that’s necessitated surgery. (REPORT)

Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero has been named captain of his club side Sydney FC after spending last season as vice-captain. (REPORT)

Brazilian No. 1 goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who isn’t in Harry Redknapp’s plans at Queens Park Rangers, has broken two fingers in his hand in training and will miss at least three weeks. (REPORT)

Former Werder Bremen manager Thomas Schaaf is being touted as one of the top candidates to take over at HSV Hamburg after Thorsten Fink’s sacking. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you see Blatter’s comments coming back to haunt him? Do you see Casillas recovering in time for Real Madrid’s next UCL match? Do you agree with FIFA’s decision to not compensate countries if they move to a winter World Cup?

Share your thoughts below.

 

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61 Responses to Wednesday Kickoff: Blatter admits to political influences in Qatar voting; Casillas plays down knock; and more

  1. JSmiley says:

    Pretty sure I heard this conversation in a movie once…

    Blatter: I’m shocked, shocked to find that bribery is going on in here.

    [A FIFA worker gives Blatter a wad of money.]

    FIFA Worker: Your payment, sir.

    Blatter: [Quietly] Oh, thank you very much. [Loudly] Everybody out at once.

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  3. Reboot says:

    Iker Casillas can’t catch a break…. oops

  4. ManicMessiah says:

    Governments can have no direct interference in the way FAs are run, but it’s okay for UEFA? To make even a veiled accusation you’d think would need to be followed up with an investigation.

    I am still not sure what I think the point of that comment is. At first I thought he was trying to foist blame off of FIFA for giving Qatar the world cup and onto governments, also “strengthening” the position of FIFA to keep governmental interference away from investigations into FIFA.

    Then I thought that maybe he is going after Platini, trying to cut down the next in a line of heir apparents to Blatter’s position. The next step would be an ‘investigation’ and a banning, assuming he feels confident in his supporter base.

    Man, forget game of thrones, can HBO get a series started based on the goings on in FIFA?

    • What me worry? says:

      Maybe he is just indicating to the disappointed bidders how to get the job done by playing by the unofficial rules. You would think that the USA with its ability to manipulate the three major leagues here for cash, with its sports networks, and its ability to thwart or get around NCAA “rules” for boosters and cash and benefits would be able to put together the right group of people to host the right dinners and parties and make the appropriate gestures of respect to get the World Cup back.

    • Jim says:

      He’s definitely gunning for Platini. Surprisingly, the best hope for the general public is that Sepp’s selfish goals may allow some actual investigation into the rigged Qatar bid. He’d LOVE to see evidence come to light that UEFA voting members accepted bribes– it would completely undermine Platini’s efforts to replace him.

  5. 2tone says:

    Not surprising these comments from Blatter are coming out leading up to another election year in 2014. Platini has ambitions to run against Blatter.

    C’mon we all know Qatar bought the WC. And Platini is just as corrupt.

  6. Sly says:

    Coutinho’s injury is huge. Liverpool do not have anyone who can play that role. Aspas can’t maybe Joe Allen can do for a spell but he is nowhere near as dynamic as Coutinho.

  7. Travis says:

    Most ironic thing about this article has to be the fact that FIFA has an ethics committee, clearly it needs to step it up a couple notches because the organization is corrupt through and through.

  8. Tim F. says:

    Time to rebid the 2022 World Cup!

  9. Tony in Quakeland says:

    This is like the sun admitting it shines…

  10. Older & Wiser says:

    I see what you did there. Casablanca — One of my all time favorite movies.

  11. Mike E. says:

    So their legal argument is that the entire bid process is for a specific time and bids must explicitly arrange to deal with specifics related to that time frame (air conditioned stadiums, cloud seeding and temperature controlled fan zones), yet despite all of this and the legal paperwork laying out the specific time of the event… you should know that we might alter the terms of the contracts post-finalization.

    It’s the adult, non-legal version of I don’t care what I said, its my ball and I am going home.

    Any international court would laugh them out of the room while then having legal grounds to open investigations.

    Of course nobody in FIFA wants anything to do with the discovery process of that suit.

  12. BamaMan says:

    One wonders if Blatter did not in fact support the US bid while Platini supported the Qatari bid. I think it’s entirely possible. It would explain a lot (the rival bid for FIFA presidency from Bin Hammam, Blatter’s decision to hang on as president, etc.). Blatter may be as crooked as a three dollar bill; however, he is nothing if not a savvy operator. Perhaps part of this drip drip drip of statements indicating problems with the Qatari bid is an effort to force a revote and/or the awarding of the tournament to a different nation (likely the US).

    • downintexas says:

      I think he did, I believe he came out and said he voted for the US, and was a bit surprise that Qatar won

    • Todd Marsch says:

      I thought Blatter was already on record as saying he voted for the US. Is that right?

      But yeah, I really am starting to think he’s using these implications of corruption to undermine any would-be challengers to his power (in this Platini). Nobody (not even Blatter) can say this many seemingly self-defeating things accidentally.

    • patrick says:

      ……you’re not serious right?

      Blatter’s entire goal with his position is to bring the games to new countries, he’s said this many times, which is why we’ve had South Africa, and will have Qatar. Regardless of how he cast his vote, Blatter undoubtedly wants these games in Qatar.

      • PD says:

        and on the face of it that is a noble ideal to pursue. I don’t think anyone would disagree that using sport to open up closed societies has been used many times to great success. But if it is clearly stated that voting FIFA members should not be swayed by outside political pressure or incentives (like bribes), then these allegations represent a real issue could really shake the federation to it’s core, and deservedly so if it’s true.

      • Eurosnob says:

        If I recall correctly, Australia was one of the bidders and they never hosted the WC – and Australia had a superior bid in every respect, but the cash under the table.

    • quozzel says:

      I’ve heard that this is exactly what he’s been saying – privately – to a great many people…certainly this is the message Sunil Gulati has apparently gotten. From what I understand, Blatter is/was pretty much adamantly opposed to the Qatar bid, is in direct opposition to Bin Hamman – who tried to unseat him – and has been pretty much steadfastly working to try to get the bid yanked.

      Does this mean he would support USA 2022? Dunno. Heard rumblings he really wants China and would push China as an alternate Asian bid…so who knows how Qatar losing the WC in ’22 would affect the USA getting the cup. Truthfully, as much as the ’22 bid has been poisoned already, I’d almost rather go after 2026 than try to snatch the ’22 bid back from the Middle East…Lord knows the political fallout of THAT would be messy as sin.

      • BamaMan says:

        Quozell,

        It sounds like you are well-sourced. China would make some sense as well, as it would open a new market to the sport (potentially). However, China’s growth has been slowing a bit and they might not be keen on the kinds of billions it would take to stage a World Cup. The US has the stadia in place today (or on track to be in place well in advance of 2022).

        Final at MetLife, semis at the Rose Bowl and Soldier Field, Quarters at the new San Fran stadium, the new Atlanta Stadium, Cowboys Stadium, and Seattle; and so on. The reality is that the US, England, and Germany are just about the only three countries with the infrastructure in place (both in terms of numbers of large stadia and transportation) to stage a World Cup on short notice. Having it in the US would make sponsors happy and would avoid the weird hatred that FIFA members seem to have for England.

  13. Pingunça says:

    USA 2022

  14. downintexas says:

    FIFA is not corrupt, FIFA didn’t take any bribes. It was ALL the political influence. So don’t blame FIFA they are innocent as little babies.

  15. dan says:

    the complete disgrace and disgusting thing that is FIFA continues. If Qatar happens every country should disband and form their own/new organization

  16. DC Josh says:

    I am starting to wonder if Blatter sits in a massive control room pushing buttons that power our entire solar system. The guy is a legitimate clone of the character Brain from Animaniac’s Pinky and the Brain. I just wonder who Pinky is…

  17. AlexH says:

    I’m shocked, SHOCKED, that major FIFA decisions aren’t 100% based on the merits.

  18. bryan says:

    Blatter is making me happy with all these comments! at what point do people say enough is enough regarding the BS around Qatar 2022. also, I thought it was established a few days ago the contractual language did specify June/July? i wish they would just publish the sections they are referring to. this isn’t some classified document with national security on the line…

  19. Drewbles says:

    I’m beginning to think that FIFA is conducting a global social experiment to see how far they can push people before a revolution arises.

    Step 1 – Award a World Cup to one of the worst possible locations imaginable, observe reactions.
    Step 2 – Release the story that a number of officials were banned for selling their vote in the FIFA presidential election to the representative from the unlikely host nation, who has also been banned.
    Step 3 – If internet grumbling and disbelief has not turned into severe outrage, begin leaking statements to the press about moving the World Cup to winter, political machinations, ethics violations, etc.

    What’s step 4?

    • SubwayJared says:

      ??????

      Step 5: Profit.

    • Brain Guy says:

      Step 4: Release secret FIFA technical evaluation, prepared before WC 2022 was awarded to Qatar, concluding that proposals for air-conditioned stadiums, etc. were laughable, and that a summertime finals in Qatar was absolutely impossible.

      Step 5: Release internal FIFA memo admitting the validity of said report and directing that it be suppressed and its authors muzzled.

  20. Mason says:

    He’s Sepp! He’s Round! He Bounces on the Ground…
    Seppy Blatts! Seppy Blatts!

  21. Zack says:

    FIFA can not take the World Cup away from Qatar which is why they are now pushing for a winter WC…if they did then Qatar would expose the voters who had been paid off and FIFA would be done finally.

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  23. Scott A says:

    Down with FIFA. It can happen.

  24. Brain Guy says:

    “The walking public relations nightmare that is Sepp Blatter has opened his mouth again.”

    This should be the title of a special weekly edition of SBI. Or a new website.