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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.

Warner and Bin Hammam have been called to a hearing on 29 May

Warner and Bin Hammam have been called to a hearing on 29 May. Photo: AP

But this does seem to be the most significant series of allegations of wrongdoing ever to be levelled at members of Fifa's executive committee.

That they should be aimed at Bin Hammam, just days before he faces Sepp Blatter in the vote for the Fifa presidency, makes the timing even more sensational.

The allegations relate to a meeting Bin Hammam held as part of his election campaign in Trinidad on 10 and 11 May.

The interesting background to this is that while Blatter had already addressed members of the Caribbean, North and Central American Football Confederation earlier in the month, Bin Hammam was unable to do so, having had an application to travel to Miami refused.

Instead Bin Hammam organised his own meeting in Trinidad with the Caribbean Football Union, which makes up 30 of the 35 members of Concacaf in Trinidad.

The question which Fifa's ethics committee is likely to be asked to answer following Blazer's dramatic intervention is who paid the bill for that meeting in Trinidad? And did that potentially break any of Fifa's rules in the election race?

Bin Hammam is understood to be perplexed by the claims and was this afternoon consulting his lawyers. Blazer told the BBC today that he won't expand on what he has told Fifa until after the ethics committee has met on Sunday but one of the most fascinating question for Fifa watchers will be why and how he has turned on Warner, for years his close ally and friend in Concacaf?

Of course, the timing here is crucial. For days, Bin Hammam has been batting away rumours that he was about to pull out of the election race. At one stage the Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke even had to go on the record denying that he had asked him to pull out.

Even assuming the ethics committee can get to the bottom of all this by Sunday evening, with so many allegations of wrongdoing now swirling around - is it right for Fifa to press ahead with Wednesday's presidential election?


  • Comment number 1.

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  • Comment number 3.

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  • Comment number 4.

    Something needs to be done about FIFA - they act above the law, are completely opaque, have been accused of being deceitful by Swiss and American judges, are in charge of a multi-billion dollar non-profit organisation and with little or no accountability. They are allowed to run their 'non-profit' from the home of secret bank accounts - Switzerland. Are they good stewards of the game? Are they transparent? Have they put the game into disrepute?

    They've humiliated our Prince (HRH), PM and Becks.

    They refuse to pay taxes for their tournaments and UEFA (just as bad) conveniently increased their prices for Wembley Champions League - only to later admit they were too high - and will in the future reduce ticket prices - when its not held in England.

    They changed the 2010 football into a volleyball to please sponsors. They then have the cheek to say that's fine, but you can't introduce technology. How many times have the games of rugby, basketball, cricket, tennis, golf and volleyball change the weight of their balls?

    Enough is enough. We need our own 'Footbal spring' and start a revolution.

    How can you get rid of the current crop of FIFA execs? How can you get them out of Switzerland to a country that is transparent (not Doha or Dubai)? How can you reduce the influence of small minnow countries that just sell their support to the highest bidder? How can the execs be made accountable? Why aren't more governments willing to challenge FIFA on their accountability? Why are the sweet FA so bloody dysfunctional? How can you get rid of FIFA once and for all?

    There's an election next week and I bet they'll all be in one room...

  • Comment number 5.

    Brilliant. I've been waiting for this, the inghting has started and hopefully the start of FIFA's collapse. Triesman may yet get a pat on the back

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  • Comment number 7.

    this blog is a waste of time as we can't comment on it. I have not accussed anyone in FIFA of anything and used the word 'alleged'.

    Just don't bother writing anything about FIFA David, it's not as if anything in FIFA will change anyway.

  • Comment number 8.

    Mr Bond are you moderating these comments or somebofy from FIFA? Its very difficult to get any comments about FIFA on any BBC messageboard,anyway I will attempt once again but I dont suppose I will succeed.FIFA is run as a business with the delegates or in other words the directors only interested what they can make out of it as a business. The big advantage they have that the financial regulations that apply to every other business in the democratic world, does not apply to them. Basically they can do what they like, and do. Perhaps they have become so brazen with allowing Qatar to buy the games off of them, that they may, just may have gone a step too far. One peson who could ring the death knell for FIFA is the "kaiser" Beckenbauer. If Beckenbauer was to spill the beans on what he knows about the FIFA Executive they would be finished. He resigned, knowing what he knew, but if only he would take it a step further. I reckon the rotton apples would all come tumbling down.

  • Comment number 9.

    Got to admit, Blatter can be a smart cookie sometimes.

    This way he gets to both wave the flag as some kind of crusader against corruption, while also taking his main political rival out of the equation. While keeping the spotlight off himself.

  • Comment number 10.

    'Infighting' rather. I'm "laughing like hell' Mr Warner

  • Comment number 11.

    Amazing how one week before the election the only opposing candidate to Mr Blatter is to be investigated even though BBC Panaroma exposed far more wrong doing on Monday night with regards to corruption!!!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm not surprised so many posts have been removed, these people are enough to make you spit. There will never be any reform, the World Cup will never again be in England and wherever it is held they will monopolise 'merchandising'. Time to reconsider our relationship with them I think.

  • Comment number 13.

    Instead of spending money campaigning for the World Cup, maybe we should have campaigned for a break away ruling body. So what if we never got invited to the World Cup or Euro's, we and other FA's could have set up another competition and called it the Intercontinetal Cup or Football World Series Cup.

    Maybe UK football fans should petition the FA to act.

  • Comment number 14.

    This has gone too far. In Paris we have Sarcozy complaining about net neutrality and the Internet being above the law. But in the same city there is an organisation that has been doing what it likes for years.

    English football doesn't need FIFA. We have the Premier League and another 6 tiers of great sport. Give me the blue sqr over French first devision anyway.
    We're not interested in winning the world cup and have no chance of hosting it. We could re-invest capellos wages in grass roots. No more internation breaks at silly times of the season. No pointless friendlies.

  • Comment number 15.

    If we set up a new governing body, democratically elected and independently inspected I expect quite a few FAs would back us.

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  • Comment number 18.

    No-one can say what we're all thinking cos it would just get moderated off. But the TIMING of this is just crying out for someone to say it ...

  • Comment number 19.

    FIFA should be renamed to PFEIFE because the whistle has just be blown on their future!

  • Comment number 20.

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  • Comment number 21.

    FIFA is clearly not fit for purpose. Scrap it, no democracy (i.e no more votes for sale), replace it with a professional organisation.

  • Comment number 22.

    I have constantly had posts removed from BBC forums etc for even mentioning the allegations against FIFA despite making it clear that nothing has yet been proven etc. I agree with the posters above that say why do I blog if the BBC moderators continually block any sensible debate on the matter or any opinions about allegations. This is surely a time when associations like Spain, Italy, France, England etc need to be braver, get together and come up with a plan that doesnt involve FIFA in it's current format, and even though I didn't want the world cup in England as I prefer to travel to WCs, I hope the voting gets opened up again for 2018 and 2022 once this matter has been settled.

  • Comment number 23.

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  • Comment number 24.

    It will be interesting to see what position Chuck Blazer is given within FIFA when Mr Blatter wins the election on Wednesday as many have predicted him too.

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  • Comment number 26.

    It's a sad thing to have to say, and too be honest I am not sure UEFA is any better. But the way it is going we are going to end up with a split in FIFA that could end up like the many and varied assocaitions in boxing. World Non-Corrupt Footballing Association anyone?
    FIFA appear unwilling to change, investigating Bin Hamman a week before a vote is an exeptional piece of theatre by any standards. By calling for the FA to vote when both candidates are tainted and saying they cannot understand why the English FA cannot make a decision is beyond belief. If only Blatter had a mirror he could look into.
    But hey ho, is our FA any more democratic, where are the tru voices of the fans rather than the admnistrators. I agree, let's have a spring uprising, out wioth all associations and let the fans rule the football world. In the internet world, we should be able to vote for our association heads.

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm not a huge football supporter, so I guess this is as an impartial outsider.

    What I never really understood is that for years and years they only ever chose one world cup event venue at a time.. Then all of a sudden, two are bundled up together. Maybe I missed it, but was the justification for that decision ever fully explained..?

    Now I'm a fairly suspicious old bugger, but say I was running a scam in a different racket, and I could see the writing was on the wall long-term or that younger fitter competition was going to oust me and move in themselves, it would make perfect sense to maximise my returns and scoodaddle while I could.. And Yes heck for sure I would try sell as many London bridges as I could.. To the Americans or any other nation interested..

  • Comment number 28.

    At least we can speculate, its fun. Perhaps Blazer has turned on Warner because if he drops him and Bin Hamman in the dunny, Blazer will be the top dog in the North American contingent and the 2022 World cup will get revoted to the USA?

  • Comment number 29.

    Does anyone really think anything meaningful will come from this...other than a note to members saying DON'T GET CAUGHT !!

    Hammam is dead meat now he has opposed Blatter and is likely to lose. I won't comment on Warners track record as this won't then get past the moderator.

  • Comment number 30.

    Neil-I am afraid you are right about UEFA . Michel Plattini comes from the amoral culture, to say the least of Serie A from the eighties and early nineties.If only Franz Beckenbauer who knows what happened with regards to the Qatar bid , would spill the beans. I know he resigned over the issue, but if he would really open up, I believe FIFA would come crashing down like a house of cards and Plattini would I reckon would not have such a shoe in as the next head of FIFA after Blatter.

  • Comment number 31.

    If football is a "business" why is not run like it, for instance there seems to very few "ex-players/managers getting promoted to the top jobs? FIFA is so out of touch with the sporting world regarding the use of technology, rugby (both codes) cricket, and nothing moves faster than a cricket ball. They will, of course change to ball (for money) and virtually ruin the art of free kicks. how long can this out-of-touch bunch of self-serving (usr you own words) mine would not be allowed by the moderator

  • Comment number 32.

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  • Comment number 33.

    Perhaps it is time that the FA and the Premier League started canvassing the successful leagues in Europe and propose a split away from both Fifa and Uefa. The set up of a properly regulated European or Global footballing body running in competition against Uefa and Fifa might be the answer. It would admittedly in the short term be the end of the Champions League and World Cup as we know it for at least a few years. However the long term benefits (if properly regulated) would be immense.

  • Comment number 34.

    MyVoiceinYrHead, FIFA is based in Zurish Switzerland, not Paris, France.

    David Bond - Why have the BBC not reported on the items on the FIFA Congress agenda i.e. that the United Arab Emirates want to reduce the years of residence from 5 to 3 to become eligible to play for that nation?

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    'Fifa reputation on the line'.. you having a laugh????

    But the comments made above re moderation are correct. If you're not going to allow people to pass opinion on allegations (which is fine and understandable) don't put up a blog about it because what else are people supposed to say?

  • Comment number 37.

    Not sure why you ask for comments when you remove so many of them.

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    Moderation on this thread is becoming a joke, I quoted an article on the BBC about FIFA alleged corruption during a previous presidential election and even provided the link and it was removed - FIFA would be proud. Here is the article again from 2002, worth a read if you are allowed too.

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    Is the Chinese government moderating this blog-or are Beeb employees just big fans of how they operate?

  • Comment number 42.

    I'll bet anybody a billion pounds that the 2022 world cup isn't in Qatar

  • Comment number 43.

    And this is a surprise because.......................

  • Comment number 44.

    football should be run by real football men, beckanbaur, cryffe, charlton, pele, and platini, yes, platini, the others could remind him of whats at stake, if it should be required. they could over-see the likes of cantona, dalglish, maldini, ronaldo(brasil), zola, robson, beckham, miller, shevchenko and many more, real footballers, real football, real gents

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm another who does not understand the efforts of the moderators here. In another thread I actually partially defended FIFA (against accusations that Koreans were given a free-ride by FIFA to the semis of the 2002 WC), stating that there are enough accusations against FIFA and there was no need for such additional conspiracies. Accusing nations of being "favoured" by FIFA is not fair and distracts from the allegations that are directed at FIFA.

  • Comment number 46.

    Never realised how long allegations of corruption have surrounded FIFA up till recently (BBC Panorama and up to including reading some of the comments here)

    History would have suggested the allegations would have been masked over because the media isn't a strong enough source. But well...If Triesman's comments weren't enough then Chuck Blazer really has done enough.

  • Comment number 47.

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  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    What I question about FIFA / UEFA etc. is how they have become so powerful! Or at least why they think they are. Are there any other similar organisations in the world who threaten Governments with 'dire consequences' if they get involved in their local sport?

    So far FIFA has threatened at least five Governments - albeit of not so powerful nations (mind you Nigeria probably wouldn't consider themselves in that category). I truly want the USA to become the target of their next threat - can you imagine what Mr Obama would say to FIFA if he felt they were pushing their weight around in the wrong direction?

    It might be a case of warning them that people have been made to disappear for less! :-)

    Maybe that would be one good way to end all this nonsense.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because FIFA found it mentioned their name.

  • Comment number 51.

    @49 Steve M -

    FIFA has become so powerful because of one thing, and one thing only - MONEY.

    The amount of money a FIFA World Cup brings to a host country is staggering, and remember, FIFA pay no Tax on that income.

    A wise man once said "Money is the root of all evil" - granted yes, a lot of the money FIFA makes is distributed back in to the game, much as does UEFA, with its income from the Champions League and European Championships.

    However unlike UEFA, FIFA comes under the jurisdiction of Switzerland, which means they are not subject to the same sort of financial oversight as UEFA.

    Who knows where all the money goes?

    Allegations of corruption within FIFA are not new; the BBC's own Panorama program is one source, and of course allegations have been made - but never fully proven - against Jack Warner before.

  • Comment number 52.

    Noting the number of posts that have been removed, can I say that the reputation of FIFA has been enhanced. This should satisfy the lawyers and you all know what I mean.

  • Comment number 53.

    This blog is being removed by order of FIFA

    As for the comments they are moderated by Ryan Giggs' lawyer acting for FIFA

  • Comment number 54.

    Having read the article it doesn't get any better from fifa, it's farciacal. how can they hold an election for the presidency when just 2 days before the vote the only rival to blatter is being investigated by fifa's ethics committee just co-incidentally 2 days before?? he'll either be found guilty in which case no one can possibly vote for him, or else he won't but mud sticks.

    I just wonder if you could write a bit extra on this topic David, that addresses how other countries FA's and fans view FIFA and these goings on? I know how we view them but i rarely hear what other countries think. I mean how do the American fans feel given they controversially lost out in the World Cup in Qatar and now their official head has brought these allegations?? How do other European nations feel, or do they just think its English paranoia??

  • Comment number 55.

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  • Comment number 56.

    David - I agree these accusations against FIFA officials carry much more weight than the ramblings of Lord Triesman; however they appear to have arisen a bit too conveniently, don't you think, encompassing as they do, allegations against Mr Blatter's (only) opponent in the forthcoming FIFA Presidential Elections? 'False trails', 'blindsiding', decoys, etc are all things that spring to mind when considering the timing of these revelations, if that indeed is what they turn out to be?

    I hope the enquiry does lead to a 'lifting of the lid' on the less than transparent 'goings-on' at FIFA, but as someone else who has been a close observer of FIFA activities for many years has recently said " I am not sure whats going on, but one thing you can be sure of is this will not lead to any changes in the way FIFA operate" -enough said!

  • Comment number 57.

  • Comment number 58.

    This has been brewing for a long long time.
    Interntionals and their tournaments are a thing of the past in my opinion.
    Get rid of them, forget world cups.

    Replace them with Premier League v Primera Liga, Serie A v Liga Sagres, etc.
    This will take FIFA completely out of the race.
    League clubs can then combine their players responsibilities to their clubs along with promote the leagues 'internationally' by competing in tournaments akin the World Cups and Euro Championships.

    Forget compensation ssues if the leagues are running the show then it wouldn't be relevant.
    No meaningless friendlies, the players will just play in tournaments to see which domestic league is the best.
    The manager of the year will boss the side and this will enabe good managers to take turns.

    We have to think of alternatives because the international game is rotten.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    Just go to Wikipedia, look up Jack Warner (you'll need to pick him out of a list of others with the same name), and read the sections marked 'Controversies' and 'Corruption Charges'.

    I have nothing more to say.

  • Comment number 61.

    There is only one way anyone will get FIFA to change and i think its fairly simple but relies on other FA's.

    Basically the FA need to team up with at least 2 other major FA's such as the Brazilian, Argentine (unlikely), Spain, France, Germany etc......

    Once you have a few major FA's saying they will not participate in the next World Cup, FIFA will be in real trouble and will need to change otherwise they will lose huge sums of money.

    Not sure what ticket sales and tv revenue would be like without Brazil, England and Spain in the next WC. But i bet they would change pretty quickly.

  • Comment number 62.

    The allegations of corruption around FIFA have been there for years. What I cannot understand though is why the main football nations like England, Italy, Spain, Holland, Brazil, France and Argentina put up with it.

    Why haven't they decided to break away from FIFA and create their own body, in the same way the Premiere League was formed? Without these countries, the World Cup would be pointless, TV rights would disappear and with no revenue, FIFA would collapse. The smaller countries would then have to join the new body and on terms that allow footballs powerhouse countries to call the shots, not the many minnow nations that currently control the game.

  • Comment number 63.

    FIFA is old. Full of old, post-colonial men rotten to the core.

  • Comment number 64.

    I would like to know why, in a supposedly democratic country, a web site, paid for by its citizens has the right to deny the opinions of approximately one in three of the people that try to voice thier opinion?

  • Comment number 65.

    Well, when this comes to trial-by-media, I'd like to put the Spaniard in the dock and ask him two questions:

    1. When you said 'the fish have already been sold', which fish specifically?
    2. When you said 'the fish have already been sold', for what price specifically, and to whom???

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    @44, I'm afraid that in some walks of life such as those involving regulation a bit of paper-shuffling is required. Can't see the likes of Shearer doing that ;)

    As for the FIFA thing, yawn. I would like to see us pull out of FIFA, but there again, it's not as if our FA is anything to shout about. The organisational aspects of football at pretty much all levels is (insert expletive(s)).

  • Comment number 68.

    @62. The reason I should hazard is that all those countries (ourselves included) are far from squeaky clean themselves. Perhaps the spending cuts have limited our ability to play the game.

  • Comment number 69.

    Does anyone know what happened to the American journalist who wanted to become FIFA president? Did he not get the one nomination he needed to run, and if not, why didn't we vote for him?

  • Comment number 70.

    I always been bemused by the fact that so many of the minnow footballing countries have such a big say in world football matters.
    Everyone knows they sell their vote to the guy that waves the biggest wedge of cash in front of them. Unscrupulous and Scandalous. The money probably doesn't get anywhere near the 'grass roots' that it's supposed to. It'll go straight into their Swiss bank account.

    Something needs to be done - but nothing ever will.
    Too many snouts in the FIFA trough for that to ever happen.

  • Comment number 71.

    The first line of this blog says everything about the standard of writing. If David Bond thinks that FIFA is facing a fight to save its reputation someone should really point out to him that that fight was lost a long time ago. If he looked-up the name Michel Zen-Ruffinen then he would realise that allegations of corruption, even from within FIFA, are nothing new. In boxing the proliferation of governing bodies has had a negative impact on the credibility of the sport. A breakaway from FIFA might actually work though, especially if led by the countries with the highest television revenues.

  • Comment number 72.

    Blatter and Platini appear to be running FIFA and EUFA according to their own personal ideologies i.e. support the emerging football nations and cock two fingers to the real power brokers who are the money men in football.
    Whilst these ideologies may have some merit and be commendable they cannot ignore the difficulties of staging worldwide football competitions and their responsibilities to the wider audience.
    Qatar being awarded the World Cup is hard to defend on the grounds of climate, stadiums, accommodation, transport, grassroots football support and attractiveness/availability to travelling supporters.
    Further if bribery and corruption is proved to have influenced decisions, then all concerned are forever a disgrace to the game. That would be great shame in the case of Platini in particular.

  • Comment number 73.

    FIFA humiliated Prince William and David Buckham, for that at least, they should be congratulated.

  • Comment number 74.

    I am reluctant to put down my thoughts on the bizarre FIFA goings on of the past for fear of not passing the moderators.

    However, I can say I pretty much agree with comments 4, 8 and 26.

  • Comment number 75.

    It certainly seems strange that those pillars of soccer/football Trinidad Qatar and Switzerland, countries that do not even have the slightest chance of winning the World Cup should supply senior members of FIFA. Its a bit like Holland, Canada and Mauritius supplying the senior members of the ICC! I can not imagine the subcontinent agreeing to that so why do we not see for instance someone from the major African countries, a European from the major soccer countries, and a South American. Certainly not a Caribbean, Swiss, or Gulf State citizen. (Maybe Egypt or Iran though and certainly South or North Korea China or Japan)

  • Comment number 76.

    Here you will find Grant Wahl's story of what happened when he ran for FIFA president. No one endorsed him. It's a very clear that FIFA is a closed shop, with no interest in real change. Not that anyone here will be surprised by that...

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    A fish rots from the head down. That is all that needs to be said.

  • Comment number 79. it right for Fifa to press ahead with Wednesday's presidential election?


    With there being effectively one candidate, choice seems to be missing from the equation. No idea if FIFA would implode without Mr Blatter, but football is going to be better served if this situation get's worse. I suggest Platini as his succesor, opening up UEFA for a candidate not aligned with Mr Blatter.

  • Comment number 80.

    I see anything that further discredits Blatter as a good thing. He was going to win anyway, so I therefore think the timing of the vote is perfect.

  • Comment number 81.

    As FIFA exists in a secretive country (Switzerland) and it's executives appear to be totally unaccountable ... nothing will change ... dodgy deals done in backrooms in the far flung recesses of the world will continue to rule FIFA and world football.

    Only when an established main stream Football Association stands up and publicly says "enough is enough" and challenges FIFA by withdrawing it's support will anything be done to reform it.

    It's a closed club, which is maintained by the minor football nations in order to gain leverage to feather their own nests.

    The lastest scandal is being investigated by a Namibian Judge .. nothing against him, but given the severity of the allegations shouldn't a totally independant investigation / commitee be drawn up with more than one judge or country being represented to hear the protagonists fight it out ?

    This could only happen in FIFA. It's a total disgrace.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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