BBC BLOGS - David Bond

Archives for May 2011

Football Association leaves it too late - again

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David Bond | 12:46 UK time, Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Fifa's growing army of critics will no doubt welcome today's statement from the Football Association chairman David Bernstein calling for a postponement of Sepp Blatter's re-election.

Having already decided to abstain, the FA has now gone one step further, disregarding neutrality and lining up as a clear opponent of the Fifa president.

Given the level of criticism being directed at Blatter and Fifa from the English media, the FA was under pressure to make a stand.

But, while they have guaranteed themselves good headlines, their last minute move is likely to end up as nothing more than an empty gesture.

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How deep does Fifa's problem lie?

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David Bond | 15:15 UK time, Monday, 30 May 2011

Sepp Blatter will try and get Fifa back on an even keel later on Monday but there is no question his empire is teetering.

A day after he was told he had no case to answer by an ethics committee, the decision to suspend Mohamed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner has sparked a backlash which threatens not only Blatter but his general secretary Jerome Valcke.

Facing an investigation into claims he helped bribe Caribbean football officials on behalf of Bin Hammam in his bid to unseat Blatter as president, Warner's credibility has to be seriously questioned.

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Is Blatter in danger?

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David Bond | 11:00 UK time, Saturday, 28 May 2011

During his 13 years in charge of Fifa, Sepp Blatter has always distanced himself from the corruption allegations aimed at the organisation he heads.

Whenever the dirt starts flying, he is fond of painting himself as Saint Sepp, the whiter than white leader who must suffer the organisation's little devils.

But now he stands accused himself as next week's presidential election race descends into complete chaos and acrimony.

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Fifa enters uncharted territory

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David Bond | 12:12 UK time, Thursday, 26 May 2011

A clearer picture of the allegations faced by Fifa presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam and his fellow executive committee member Jack Warner - and how they surfaced - is starting to emerge.

According to sources I've spoken to, the initial alarm was raised by one Caribbean football official who was offered but refused cash to finance football development projects in their country.

Following the meeting of the 30 members of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) on 10 and 11 May in Trinidad - a meeting where Bin Hammam presented his case to be president - this anonymous whistleblower took his concerns to the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf), the overall governing body for football in the region on May 15.

The general secretary of that confederation is the American Chuck Blazer. Despite his long standing ties to Warner - who is Concacaf president and effectively his boss - Blazer called in Concacaf's outside legal counsel, John Collins, a partner at the Chicago based law firm Collins and Collins.

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Fifa reputation on the line

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David Bond | 14:08 UK time, Wednesday, 25 May 2011

For months now Fifa has been facing a fight to save its reputation amid the drip, drip, drip of corruption allegations.

But none of the claims made so far by Lord Triesman or the media come close to the potentially seismic effects of today's developments.

Never before has a member of the Fifa executive committee levelled such serious allegations against two of fellow members of that committee. For years Fifa has dealt with stones being thrown from outside the tent. Today, for the first time they are coming from inside the organisation.

At this stage we still don't know the exact nature of what Chuck Blazer is alleging. All we know from Fifa's statement is that the allegations include bribery claims. It is not clear whether those bribery claims relate specifically to the two executive committee members being accused - Jack Warner and Mohamed Bin Hammam - or to the two Caribbean Football Union officials also named in the statement, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester.

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Has the FA gone far enough?

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David Bond | 15:55 UK time, Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Football Association's decision to abstain from next month's Fifa presidential vote was hardly a surprise.

Faced with the impossible choice of the incumbent Sepp Blatter or the Qatari challenger Mohamed Bin Hammam, the chairman David Bernstein had already hinted last week that abstention was the only credible alternative.

But should the FA have used today's long awaited decision to blow a far louder raspberry at the men in Switzerland who run world football?

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Will torch relay spread Olympic fever across UK?

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David Bond | 11:58 UK time, Wednesday, 18 May 2011

It was the Nazis who first spotted the symbolic power of a relay carrying the sacred Olympic flame from the ruins of ancient Greece to the site of the modern Olympic Games.

The commanders of the Third Reich ruthlessly used it for propaganda purposes at the so-called Hitler Games in Berlin in 1936.

And yet, despite the darker reasons for its inception, the Olympic torch relay has developed into one of the movement's most treasured symbols, a key part of the build up to the summer and winter Games.

Organisers use it to not only create excitement in the final months before the opening of the Olympics but also to spread the message beyond the limited confines of the host city.

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FA edging closer to abstention in Fifa presidential election

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David Bond | 16:25 UK time, Friday, 13 May 2011

Next week the FA board will meet to decide their choice in June's Fifa presidential election contest. They have two candidates to choose from.

Sepp Blatter, the incumbent who has overseen 13 years of commercial growth accompanied by the constant whiff of scandal.

Or Mohamed Bin Hammam, the head of Asian football and a Fifa executive since 1996. He was also a key player in Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid and a close friend of a middleman who was this week accused in parliament of handing out bribes of $1.5m (£926,000) to African Fifa members on behalf of Qatar.

Some choice. Given the circumstances it's no surprise that the FA's chairman David Bernstein is coming around to the idea of a third option - abstention.

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Time for Fifa to act on World Cup allegations

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David Bond | 16:36 UK time, Wednesday, 11 May 2011

It tells you a lot about Fifa that it has taken a one-off hearing by a Parliamentary select committee to, at last, air some of the claims and allegations which have long swirled around the bidding contests to stage the 2018 World Cup finals.

Ask anyone involved with England's doomed bid privately about the conduct of the Fifa members they were trying to woo and you would hear similar claims to the ones which were made public in Parliament yesterday by the former bid leader Lord Triesman.

But back then it was not convenient to rock the boat. Instead it was us, the media, who came under attack for scuppering England's chances by airing claims of misconduct involving Fifa's 24 decision makers.

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Fifa faces seminal moment after Triesman allegations

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David Bond | 17:24 UK time, Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Lord Triesman has long promised to lift the lid on what really happened while he was chairman of the failed England 2018 World Cup bid.

On Tuesday, he finally got his chance, using the platform of the culture, media and sport select committee to name four Fifa executives he claims asked for gifts or favours in return for their support - behaviour he says was ethically unacceptable.

In his most explosive allegation, the Labour peer said that, in October 2009, Jack Warner, a Fifa vice-president from Trinidad and Tobago, asked for cash - suggested to be £2.5m - to build a new education centre and offices for the country's football association, a request Lord Triesman rejected immediately.

He also claimed Warner later asked for half a million pounds to buy the TV rights for the 2010 World Cup for Haiti after the country was devastated by an earthquake in January of that year. Warner has denied the allegations.

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Kroenke's Arsenal will not be saddled with debt

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David Bond | 16:52 UK time, Friday, 6 May 2011

Ever since Stan Kroenke announced his intention to buy Arsenal last month, he has faced questions over exactly how he would fund a deal which values the club at £731m.

Despite a fortune counted in billions rather than millions and repeated pledges not to load the club with debts, fans have been anxious that he might copy the Glazer family at Manchester United by using club money to cover hefty interest payments.

Well, today we at least got an answer of sorts as Kroenke posted a 64-page offer document to Arsenal's shareholders.

On page eight of that document the American sports tycoon reveals his business, Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE) has "entered into a finance facility with Deutsche Bank AG, New York branch, to satisfy the certain funds requirement of rule 24.7 of the Takeover Code".

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