UEFA, NASL, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, USSF, Russia, Blatter react as FIFAGate snowballs

Sepp Blatter

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS
Staff Writer

After a crisis meeting Wednesday afternoon in Warsaw, UEFA has called for the postponement of the FIFA Presidential Election and may boycott the FIFA Congress that is ongoing in Zurich after nine FIFA officials were arrested earlier that day.

UEFA’s statement is one of the many reactions coming in from various confederations and football associations after the US Department of Justice unsealed a 47-count indictment that included charges of racketeering and wire fraud by officials and executives with sports marketing agencies. UEFA’s statement in full:

[colored_box color=”red”]Today’s events are a disaster for FIFA and tarnish the image of football as a whole.

UEFA is deeply shocked and saddened by them. These events show, once again, that corruption is deeply rooted in FIFA’s culture. There is a need for the whole of FIFA to be “rebooted” and for a real reform to be carried out. The upcoming FIFA Congress risks to turn into a farce and therefore the European associations will have to consider carefully if they should even attend this Congress and caution a system, which, if it is not stopped, will ultimately kill football.

The UEFA member associations are meeting tomorrow ahead of the FIFA Congress. At that point, the European associations will decide on what further steps need to be taken to protect the game of football.

In the meantime, the members of the UEFA Executive Committee are convinced that there is a strong need for a change to the leadership of this FIFA and strongly believe that the FIFA Congress should be postponed, with new FIFA presidential elections to be organized within the next six months.”[/colored_box]

The North American Soccer League has suspended the Chairman of its Board of Governors, Aaron Davidson, after he was charged in the indictment. The NASL also announced that it would be suspending all business activities with Traffic Sports after the company pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

The league issued the following statement:

[colored_box color=”blue”]In light of the ongoing investigation announced by the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday, the North American Soccer League’s Board of Governors has suspended Chairperson Aaron Davidson, along with all business activities between the league and Traffic Sports, effective immediately. Commissioner Bill Peterson will serve as acting Chairperson.

The Carolina RailHawks, the sole NASL club owned by Traffic Sports, will continue to operate in the ordinary course of business. The club’s management team will continue to manage the day-to-day operations.”[/colored_box]

FIFA President Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter has not been charged in the indictment, but did announce the provisional bans of each individual charged in the indictment. He said this was a difficult time for all those that follow soccer.

[colored_box color=”green”]As unfortunate as these events are, it should be clear that we welcome the actions and the investigations by the US and Swiss authorities and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken to root out any wrongdoing in football.

While there will be many who are frustrated with the pace of change, I would like to stress the actions that we have taken and will continue to take. In fact, today’s action by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General was set in motion when we submitted a dossier to the Swiss authorities late last year.

Let me be clear: such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game. Following the events of today, the independent Ethics Committee – which is in the midst of its own proceedings regarding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups — took swift action to provisionally ban those individuals named by the authorities from any football-related activities at the national and international level. These actions are on top of similar steps that FIFA has taken over the past year to exclude any members who violate our own Code of Ethics.

We will continue to work with the relevant authorities and we will work vigorously within FIFA in order to root out any misconduct, to regain your trust and ensure that football worldwide is free from wrongdoing.”[/colored_box]

Three officials with CONMEBOL, the governing body of South American soccer, were also charged. The confederation’s statement:

[colored_box color=”yellow”]Faced with the grave events in the city of Zurich in the day, involving individuals, representatives or members of FIFA members, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF Executive Committee and delegates of the component Associations CONMEBOL in plenary session and unanimously resolved to inform the public as follows:

One: to repudiate all acts of corruption and unreservedly support the investigations initiated and which are initiated both to FIFA, CONMEBOL, CONCACAF, soccer and other organizations regarding alleged wrongdoing, agreeing to collaborate openly and emphatically with such investigations

Two: Respect, in all circumstances of the trial, the declaration of innocence or guilt of the people involved

Three: Ensure, by the force of truth, ethics and transparency of the activities of FIFA, CONMEBOL and Associations members.”[/colored_box]

The DOJ unsealed the guilty plea of Former Executive Vice President of US Soccer Charles Blazer. Here is US Soccer’s statement:

[colored_box color=”grey”]”The United States Soccer Federation firmly believes there is no higher priority, and nothing more important, than protecting the integrity of our game. We are committed to the highest ethical standards and business practices, and we will continue to encourage CONCACAF and FIFA to promote the same values. Out of respect for the ongoing investigation, we will not speculate or comment further on this matter at this time.”[/colored_box]

CONCACAF, so embroiled at the eye of the FIFAGate storm, issued a midday statement as well:

[colored_box color=”blue”]The Confederation of North, Central America and the Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) is deeply concerned by today’s developments, in the arrest of several international football officials including those belonging to our Confederation.

The Confederation will continue to cooperate with the authorities to its fullest capacity.

At present, CONCACAF is not in a position to comment further on the specific allegations, which have been referred to the appropriate legal counsel through the pertinent channels.

CONCACAF continues to operate in the ordinary course of business, hosting all of its upcoming tournaments in a successful and timely manner, including the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.”[/colored_box]

And finally, while the awarding of the hosting rights to the 2018 World Cup to Russia is not currently being investigated, the Russian foreign ministry issued a statement condemning American legal imperialism.

[colored_box color=”red”]”We caused a lot of issues arrest in Switzerland at the request of the US high-ranking functionaries of the International Football Association (FIFA) on the basis of the decision of the American court. A group of persons representing different states accused about fifty cases of different kinds of financial fraud.

Without going into the details of proposed charges, pay attention to the fact that there is another case of illegal extraterritorial application of US laws. We hope that this will in no way be used to tarnish the international football organization in general and its decisions, including personnel.

Once again, we urge Washington to stop trying to judge far beyond its borders for its legal standards and follow the generally accepted international legal procedures.”[/colored_box]

 

  • Ulrich

    Ha! The Russian PR snippet is trying to get out in front of the crisis – but where there’s smoke there’s fire – and their 2018 Bid is likely going to be proven (as opposed to just alleged) to be corrupt.

    It’s too bad they don’t realize that anything conducted on US soil or that travels through the US banking system opens it up to US laws (countering their claims of “illegal extraterritorial application of US law”), and it’s going to be difficult for them to defend that their bid 100% did not engage in activities/meetings in the US and that payments of any sort did not utilize American Banks or dollars (the mighty Ruble is not the currency of choice for Russian oligarchs, and most, if not all, have residences stateside).

    Pass the popcorn…..

  • Tony Geinzer

    I think in the moment of NOW, all kidding aside, there’d be no more MLS, and not even an Early Winters Bone, but, Spain and Greece are already broke and if my acquisition theory held water now vs. Last Spring, if UEFA where to blindly acquire the Spanish Federation’s Pro Clubs, and this hasn’t been a Man U-Real Madrid International Side the last 2 Years, we are
    getting to know the other global sides, good and bad.

  • Anonymous

    Bad day on and off the pitch for the NASL, eh?