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  • A call for change: Declan Hill translated


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    "There is a battle right now and I don’t know who is going to win it."

    That was Declan Hill, Oxford scholar and author of the Fix, on It's Called Football Wednesday night - speaking less than 24 hours before FIFA would shock the world by announcing the 2018 and 2022 World Cups would be going to the massive underdogs Russia and Qatar.

    Hill, who was telling of an ongoing fight within football associations across the world - one between crime families, gamblers and those who they control and people within those associations, who see the problems these cockroaches have brought on the Asian soccer markets and are seeking to rid their own of the corruption - began by talking about FIFA's World Cup bid process with eery clairvoyance.

    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]

    "This process has absolutely no credibility. And the problem is whatever country gets awarded 2018 World Cup and the 2022 World Cup their reputations are going to be tarnished. If it, say, goes to say Spain or Portugal nobody is going to believe they had the best and most high quality bid."
    He continued, speaking about the Andrew Jennings' report on FIFA executives - the executives which had allegedly taken bribes and the same executives which would be voting on the bids to award the World Cup.
    "I noticed like any good journalist you used the words allegedly a lot but in Andrew Jennings’ report he’s not saying allegedly he’s got the Swiss court documents showing that executive committee members were regularly taking bribes from ISL — which was the marketing arm, which was in charge of the TV rights for these big sporting events. It just wasn’t a one off, it was a consistent chronic consistent pattern of fraudulent payments to executive committee members – the very same guys that are going to be sitting in the room eye ball to eye ball with David Beckham and David Cameron and all the other national representatives for World cup bids. These are the guys who are supposed to be in charge of the World Cup process? It just beggars belief."
    Then, as he seems to do pretty much every time he joins us, he began dropping the real bombs. In this case, and in his own words, world exclusive bombs.
    "This is something that most people haven’t picked up on, I guess it’s sort of an exclusive for you but one of the things that came out of the book was the establishment of the integrity unit for UEFA. Platini invited me to Swizterland just after the book was published to sit down and talk to their people. The head of that unit has been suspended six weeks ago. I have no idea why people have not picked up on this. It’s part of this tipping point, I don’t know if whether it’s the corruption has gone too far or what the backlash is but there is definitely a battle going on inside these big organizations, inside all these football associations."
    He explains further why the head of the integrity unit and much of the unit itself have been suspended.
    "Soon after the book comes out Baltasar Garzón, very famous Spanish prosecutor, famous for the arrest of (Augusto) Pinochet, he moves in and he takes out the top of the Russian mafia living in Spain, has a whole series of simultaneous raids at dawn … the top guy is the head Tevizorski, of St. Petersburg mafia and he’s caught on tape talking with his leftenaint and they’re talking about Zenit St. Petersburg progress to winning the Europa League in 2008. The allegations is they spent at $40 million Euro to bribe players on Glasgow Rangers and Bayern Munich to throw those games – the semi final and the final. And UEFA does what they’re supposed to do – which is launch an investigation. Somehow the German media gets hold of that and Franz Beckenbauer, the head of Bayern Munich, reacts and says ‘you’re not allowed to make an investigation of us, this is not allowed.’ And FIFA puts pressure on UEFA so UEFA suspends their integrity unit. To me this is a prima-facie case of why you need an independent anti corruption agency. You can’t have one soccer agency leaning on another soccer agency saying ‘hey we don’t like you investigating us’ "
    Hill, with the help of Dick Pound, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, has been pushing for the creation of anti-corruption agency for the past two years. Their argument, and it's a strong one, is that governing bodies cannot be relied on to investigate themselves, that there needs to be an independent group capable of holding feet to the fire when, say, Jack Warner sells World Cup tickets on the black market.

    He hammers his last point home with this.

    If Baltasar Garzón and the Spanish prosecutors are catching mafia godfathers discussing this stuff, this is really serious. It ain’t just some nonsense dreamed up by a conspiracy theorist. This is a good lead that you have to investigate. And $40 million Euro can buy a lot of influence. … You can’t just dismiss it. This is a really good reason why we need an independent anti-corruption agency to do that kind of investigation.
    Today, I think most in the U.S. and England would agree with Hill's call to action. But it has to go beyond regional passions. If we want to see integrity restored to the game we love, there simply has to be an independent group to police the filth that has spread throughout the associations.

    Otherwise, from now on, every World Cup bid, tournament and competition, will begin to feel more and more like yesterday did.

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