Daily news roundups

Blatter announces plans to resign, Union face Crew, friendly against Bournemouth announced, more

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Blatter announces he will step down as FIFA president

On Tuesday, June 2, 2015, Sepp Blatter announced at a press conference at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland,

While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football – the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at FIFA.

Therefore, I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective Congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as FIFA President until that election.

“‘Lay down my mandate,’ what the hell does that mean?” you might say, before perhaps adding, “And keep it clean, anyway, there are kids in the room.”

Well, dear reader, six days after the indictment and arrest of leading FIFA figures in Zurich as part of a corruption investigation by US federal law enforcement agencies, four days after he was re-elected to a fifth term as FIFA president, and the day after the New York Times reported that his right hand man, FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, was a subject of the corruption investigation, Sepp Blatter announced he would be resigning as president of FIFA pending an election to name his replacement.

Holy moley, indeed. So when’s the election?

Blatter’s announcement was followed by statement from Domenico Scala, FIFA’s independent chairman of the Audit and Compliance committee that explained “a four-month notice is required for any presidential elections to be held.” Scala continued,

FIFA must also consider appropriate time to vet candidates and allow them to present their ideas for the organization that set forth their vision. Therefore, while the decision on timing of the Extraordinary Congress and election of a new President will ultimately be up to the Executive Committee, the expectation is that this could take place anytime from December of this year to March of next year.

So, sometime between December of 2015 and March of 2016, Sepp Blatter’s successor as president of FIFA will be elected. The New York Times, ESPNGoal.com, ProSoccerTalk, have a list of possible candidates. Apparently, Michel Platini is the current favorite among bookmakers.

Soon after Blatter’s announcement, the New York Times reported US law enforcement officials had “confirmed that he was a focus of a federal corruption investigation.”  The report explained,

Mr. Blatter had for days tried to distance himself from the controversy, but several United States officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that in their efforts to build a case against Mr. Blatter they were hoping to win the cooperation of some of the FIFA officials now under indictment and work their way up the organization.

A report from ABC said, “sources familiar with the case told ABC News today that Blatter is being investigated by the FBI and U.S. prosecutors as part of the probe that led to last week’s stunning indictments.”

The Swiss Office of the Attorney General issued a statement saying, “The OAG has opened criminal proceedings against persons unknown on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and of money laundering. Therefore, Joseph S. Blatter is not under investigation by the OAG. His announced resignation will have no influence on the ongoing criminal proceedings.”

Blatter’s daughter told the BBC, “His decision has nothing, absolutely nothing at all, to do with the accusations that are currently circulating. My father is an honest person who has dedicated his life to football.”

The AFP reports,

Asked if the United States had pushed Blatter out of world football’s governing body, the State Department’s senior advisor for strategic communications, Marie Harf, laughed and shot back: “No.”

“The United States government does not have a position on who the president of FIFA is,” Harf told reporters.

At ASN, UCLA law professor Steven Bank runs down why Blatter may have decided to announce his resignation. At the New York Daily News, more on how prosecutors start with lesser targets in order to flip them and move up against bigger targets in racketeering and corruption cases.

At the Guardian, Owen Gibson writes,

Having joined [FIFA] in 1975 when it had just 12 employees, he created the model of kickbacks, patronage and pork barrel politics over a period in which Fifa’s revenues have soared – and turned a blind eye to the staggering greed among those afforded a piece of it.

Blatter was ultimately undone by the things that had sustained him. In trying to pull the rug out from under Mohamed bin Hammam, his one-time ally who challenged him for the presidency in 2011, Blatter set in motion a chain of events involving Chuck Blazer and Jack Warner that ended in last Wednesday’s dawn raid on the Baur au Lac and that damning US indictment.

Speaking of Chuck Blazer, the testimony from his own guilty plea on corruption charges in 2013 is expected to be unsealed by a federal judge today. The good times, they just keep a rollin’ along!

US Soccer president Sunil Gulati issued a statement on Blatter’s resignation saying,

The announcement today by President Blatter represents an exceptional and immediate opportunity for positive change within FIFA. I commend him for making a decision that puts FIFA and the sport we love above all other interests. This is the first of many steps towards real and meaningful reform within FIFA. Today is an occasion for optimism and belief for everyone who shares a passion for our game.

CONCACAF president Alfredo Hawit said in a brief statement, “We are at an important moment for the game, a moment that we must not squander. CONCACAF stands ready to assist in the process of rebuilding FIFA in a way that strengthens the game for many years to come.”

UEFA president Michel Platini called Blatter’s decision “a difficult decision, a brave decision and the right decision.” On Wednesday, he issued a statement saying the meeting of UEFA members announced after Blatter’s election would be postponed. “Considering new information is revealed every day, I believe it is wiser to take time to assess the situation, so together we can take a position on this issue.”

CONMEBOL called for unity in its statement on Blatter’s announcement. CAF declared its commitment to reforms. The AFC, which loudly backed Blatter in Friday’s election, said it is “is closely monitoring the situation.”

By the way, did you know that CONMEBOL’s headquarters in Paraguay have judicial immunity, much like a foreign embassy? That may change soon.

At Buzz Feed, Heidi Blake reports, “Insiders say the leaders of Qatar’s 2022 Supreme Committee (or local organizing committee) have now been told not to set foot on U.S. soil for fear of being arrested by the FBI in its investigation into allegations that FIFA officials turned football into a ‘criminal enterprise’ and presided over a ‘World Cup of fraud.'”

FIFA’s corporate sponsors are happy that Blatter is resigning.

So, are Russia and Qatar as hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup now in jeopardy? The Wall Street Journal, among others, thinks so.

Reuters reports that Interpol “has issued international wanted-person alerts for two former FIFA officials including Jack Warner and four corporate executives at the request of U.S. authorities as part of a corruption probe.”

Also at Reuters, more on the report we linked to in Wednesday’s round up that staging the Copa Centenario tournament could be in jeopardy because of the ongoing corruption investigation.

If you click on one FIFA corruption related link today, read this article at the Washington Post from Mike Miller on British journalist Andrew Jennings, the “curmudgeonly old reporter” whose work is the beginning of everything that led to the US investigation of FIFA corruption and Sepp Blatter’s downfall.  Just to give you a taste of how awesome Jennings is, here’s a quote from him on the crooks at FIFA:

I know that they are criminal scum, and I’ve known it for years. And that is a thoughtful summation. That is not an insult. That is not throwing about wild words.

These scum have stolen the people’s sport. They’ve stolen it, the cynical thieving bastards. So, yes, it’s nice to see the fear on their faces.

Thank you, Mr. Jennings, thank you for everything.

Saving the best news for last, United Passions, that universally panned feature-length $29 million puff piece about FIFA (and largely paid for by FIFA) starring Gérard Depardieu, Sam Neill, as well as Tim Roth as Sepp Blatter, is set to open in limited release in the US beginning on June 5. It could just turn out to be the comedy of the year. Maybe you could enjoy some champagne before you go.

Philadelphia Union

The Union host Columbus Crew tonight (7 pm, TCN, MLS Live, MLS Direct Kick), looking to bounce back from Saturday’s unlucky loss in DC.

In his weekly press conference on Tuesday (full transcript here at PSP), Curtin underscored the challenges posed by the Crew’s multi-pronged attack, which includes league leading goalscorer Kai Kamara, as well as Ethan Finlay, who had two goals and an assist when Columbus thumped the Union 4-1 earlier this season. “If you just focus on Kai, then Finlay and Meram will kill you, those are guys who can score goals as well.”

Curtin added, “Ethan Finlay has been a…has killed us, for lack of a better way to put it.”

Columbus Dispatch looks at the Crew’s roster options with Michael Parkhurst being suspended for the game.

Previews from PSP (see our quick reference too), Philadelphia Union (print, video), MLSsoccer.com, Philadelphia Inquirer, Delco TimesPhilly Soccer NewsBrotherly Game, Columbus Crew (video, match notesopposition report), MLSGB, and The Sports Network.

In his press conference, Curtin praised the fine play of Fabinho and Richie Marquez in recent games. More on Curtin’s praise of Marquez at MLSsoccer.com.

Sebastien Le Toux is happy to have finally gotten his first goal of the season out of the way. “I am glad it is out of the way and now I hope to go on a streak.” Jim Curtin said, “Hopefully he can get on a hot streak, one of those patented Le Toux summer runs where he gets hot and scores eight to 10 goals in a pretty brief period.”

At the Union’s Behind the Crest blog, Kyle Basedow has an update from Tuesday’s practice session. He notes Andre Blake and Steven Vitoria did strength training with Vitoria later participating in some drills with the team.

In MLSsoccer.com’s power rankings, the Union remain at No. 19. At ProSoccerTalk, the Union are at No. 18. Sadly, ProSoccerTalk’s copy editor was relegated.

Summer friendly announced against AFC Bournemouth

The Union and newly promoted Premier League side AFC Bournemouth have announced a friendly at PPL Park on July 16. The game will be Bournemouth’s first ever overseas game as a Premier League club.

At Bournemouth Echo, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe describes the role club chairman Jeff Mostyn played in arranging the match, which is part of a nine-day training camp. “Jeff has a really good tie-up with Philadelphia and has some good contacts there. This has been brought together by him and we are grateful to Philadelphia for all the help they have given us in allowing us to use their facilities.” You will recall that Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz was sighted at the game in April in which Bournemouth defeated Bolton to secure promotion to the Premier League, a game that happened to take place only two days after the Union were thumped 4-1 by tonight’s opponent, Columbus. Spooky, right?

At the Union website, a look at Bournemouth’s recent history, which includes the near demise of the club only seven years ago.

Justice, even if deferred

Justice, even if it comes too late to help the Union: the league’s disciplinary committee has suspended DC United’s Chris Rolfe for one game for “violent conduct which endangered the safety of an opponent” in kicking out at Vincnet Nogueira.

Rolfe said of the incident after the suspension was announced, “It probably wasn’t the smartest decision by me.”

Union-Harrisburg loans

The injury riddled Union hasn’t been loaning many players to Harrisburg this season, about half as much compared to last season. At Brotherly Game, Matt Ralph has a good read on the topic that helps to put this season’s fewer loans into perspective:

[I]f you look around the league at the 12 MLS teams with USL affiliates, the Union are loaning players more frequently than five other teams combined. San Jose Earthquakes haven’t loaned a single player to Sacramento Republic FC this season and Sporting Kansas City, New York City FC, FC Dallas and Orlando City have only used the loan process sparingly.

DC United’s loaned players have the most minutes with 2045 and 22 games at Richmond Kickers, more than double that of the Union. The Rapids (Charlotte Independence), New England Revolution (Richmond Kickers), Houston Dynamo (Charleston Battery), Chicago Fire (St. Louis FC) and Columbus Crew (Austin Aztex) also have more minutes loaned than the Union.

Union Academy

Union Academy U-14 goalkeeper Carlos dos Santos has been called up by John Hackworth for the US U-15 camp in Buenos Aires, June 4-12. The team will play Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay during the camp.

Local

The Ocean City Nor’easters website notes one current, and two former players, are representing their national teams: Rickardo Oldham (Jamaica U-23s), Tyler Miller (US U-23s), and Keasel Broome (Barbados national team).

MLS

In addition to tonight’s Union game, DC hosts Chicago, and Montreal hosts Vancouver. If Philadelphia wins, and Chicago loses, the Union will be in sixth place, and within one point of fifth place Columbus, at least until this weekend’s games. If Philadelphia wins and Chicago draws, the Union will be level with the Fire on points but in seventh place having played three more games than Chicago. Montreal, who have played six fewer games than Philadelphia, will be within one point if they win and the Union loses. Three fewer games? Six fewer games? Don’t get me started.

Andrea Pirlo to NYCFC?

Lukas Podolski to MLS?

Could DC United build a stadium in suburban Virginia’s Loudoun County? Or will the team remain in Washington?

Former Harrisburg City Islander Lucky Mkosana scored two goals in the New Cosmos 4-1 win over the Cuban national team in Havana on Tuesday.

US

The USWNT landed in Winnipeg on Wednesday ahead of the opening of the Women’s World Cup.

Julian Green scored as the US defeated Qatar 1-0 in the Toulon Tournament on Tuesday (postgame quote sheet here). In order to advance to the tournament’s third place game, the US will need France to defeat Netherlands by at least three goals when the play on June 4.

Video of Gedion Zelalem’s touches in the 4-0 win over New Zealand at the U-20 World Cup? Yeah, I’ll watch.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against a number of soccer governing bodies — including FIFA and US Soccer — aimed at forcing new regulations to protect against concussions in youth soccer, have asked a federal judge who earlier had expressed “grave concerns” about the case to reconsider in light of the ongoing FIFA corruption scandal. Bloomberg reports FIFA’s lawyer in the case countered by saying this was “’an obvious ploy to prejudice the court and distract it from the numerous and obvious infirmities’ in the concussion lawsuit.”

Another referee has been assaulted by a disgruntled player, this time in Lexington, Ky., and his brother, a spectator, also joined in.

28 Comments

  1. Yesterday was a great day for soccer for the entire world and I’m glad the FBI had the guts and will to step in.

    On to tonight, please give us that same motivated squad we’ve seen the past few games. This is a great challenge for the players against a good opponent. In regards to the officiating against us the entire season so far, I pray the players have a chip on the shoulder!

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Special election to serve the remainder of Blatter’s four year term has been scheduled for May 1, 2019 🙂

  3. alicat215 says:

    Zalalem was just ridiculous in that match against New Zealand….kid is silky smooth….and he looked physically faster and stronger than anyone else on the pitch. It will be fun watching a bonafide baller come up through the ranks…..hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if JK just keeps him with the full MNT. Oh yeah………….and he’s a Gunner!!!!!!!!!!!

    • We are coming along in the USA but are miles and miles away, especially when you see an academy kid from a club like Arsenal.

      • alicat215 says:

        Barca, Arsenal, Ajax, BVB…..few produce them like those academies do……and they are global looking for talent….

      • alicat215 says:

        and thats not even bringing up the conveyer belts in South America like Sao Paulo, Flamengo, Fluminese, Racing, River Plate, Boca………..too many down there to even count!

      • alicat215 says:

        down the road though dude….I’m mildly exited. In the future we can look to an XI that has the likes of Green, Zalalem, Pulisic, Hyndman, Canouse, Steffan, Tall, Arriola, Rubin……….you have a core of technical players, reared like they never have been before here in the States…….I may have to wear shades today!

      • Indeed. We are a Generation1/2 away. Eight to ten years maybe. Look out.

      • HERE in 2022 shoulda been our coming out party. HELL, now maybe it still can. If things continue to progress that is a damn good starting XI. Might be the first time we don’t just try to win every game on effort.

      • alicat215 says:

        its funny, by 2022….I could see Tab Ramos as the MNT coach as well….coaching all the kids he had….

      • While I don’t expect a World Cup trophy in my lifetime, to be a serious semi-finalist would probably be a sporting highlight. I like the way your thinking!

      • I just watched the compilation of his touch highlights in the game from the article. Not a player in the senior national team midfield who sees the field so well. Certainly a smooth player.

      • How’s he look against competition that is not utter shit?

      • alicat215 says:

        again, he plays for the Arsenal reserves….does that answer your question?

      • alicat215 says:

        Did you watch the match? If you didn’t…..you really have no frame of reference now do you?

      • Very little doubt by me he can ratchet up the speed of his play when necessary.
        .
        It pretty clear NZ was just trying to keep the US in front of them.

      • alicat215 says:

        I think Mynmar was a tougher nut to crack….they pressed the living daylights out of the US…couldn’t get anything started. It worked against Ukraine for a half….then they obviously solved it.

      • Agree. U23’s looked hopeless against Costa Rica and France. They did better against Holland and Qatar but should have gotten a result against CR. Now they have to hope for a result that most likely will not happen. And this is supposed to be the Olympic team?! They may lose out again on going next year to the Olympic Games.

      • alicat215 says:

        The 20’s have looked decent…the 23’s have looked awful. The 20’s are more important than the 23’s anyway…….sadly, Olympic soccer is becoming an afterthought, its becoming less and less desirable to play in for the players. Not all countries even take it seriously anymore……

      • alicat215 says:

        That was the Costa Rican U-20’s they lost to as well…..our 23’s……

  4. I am proud for our country today. We did the world a great service in taking out Seppa The Hutt. Next step: re-bidding the 2022 World Cup.

  5. Andrew Jennings is a god among men. Haha.
    .
    Bournemouth’s story is unreal. Read up on them. They are why we need to have pro/rel in this country. I hope they stay up after next season.
    .
    The U-20’s finally looked good yesterday. Zelalem looked REAL GOOD.
    .
    You Cosmos fans: how did they get the “Fly Emirates” (Aresenal and others) sponsorship? That’s good money.

  6. neatherprovidencepops says:

    Cheers to you Ed, the good times, they DO just keep a rollin’ along! Now all we need is Mark Cuban..

  7. Somebody finally translated “unindicted co-conspirator” for Sepp. Let’s see how long it takes for the indictment to reach him as everybody rolls on him.

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