Football's Magic Money Tree

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Chester Perry
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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:12 pm

Was it only yesterday that Gianni Infantino boasted that we had a new FIFA now that is respected for it's integrity and free of corruption, fraud and malpractice. - FIFA vice president Ahmad was detained and questioned by French authorities today.

https://apnews.com/c22087720f5943e098e7863dddcbc965" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Guardian has a story about the shocking levels of abuse in Afghanistan, only some of which FIFA has been looking into 0 the rest seemingly ignored

https://www.theguardian.com/football/20 ... federation" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Sadly this indifferent attitude from Football authorities is/has been widespread as historic abuses in this country has been brought to light in recent criminal cases

Royboyclaret
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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Royboyclaret » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:58 pm

Real Madrid agree an initial £88m deal for Eden Hazard.

For a club that's skint they still appear to be able to fund these lavish transfers.

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Thu Jun 06, 2019 4:10 pm

In post #1291I noted that the Qatari authorities have released their 4th Workers Welfare Report and posted a link to it, many took it at face value, others look deeper

The thread linked below details An investigation by German outlet @wdrsportinside shows what it means to be a guest worker in Qatar's construction sites, including in those related to the 2022 World Cup, and what's the human cost of it all.

https://twitter.com/ftamsut/status/1136298752556355585" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

An English language video of the report - it is 9 mins long

https://twitter.com/bpbest/status/1136561850139779072" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Thu Jun 06, 2019 6:05 pm

Following post #1330 - Man City going to CAS - today CAS have confirmed the request from MAn City

https://twitter.com/RobHarris/status/11 ... 2489981953" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Manchester Evening News looks at what it all actually means

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk ... s-16388388" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Thu Jun 06, 2019 6:39 pm

Everton's major Shareholder Farhad Moshiri has increased his stake in the club and cementing his defacto control - from Offthepitch.com

Everton’s major shareholder increases stake again - by Peter Høyer

Farhad Moshiri, Everton’s majority shareholder, now owns 77.2 per cent of the club’s shares.
The move follows through on the intention Moshiri announced last September, after his previous ownership expansion.

Everton announced on Thursday that majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has increased his holding in the club to 77.2 per cent.

This increase comes after Moshiri lifted his shareholding in September 2018 from 49.9 per cent to 68.6 per cent, and confirmed that he expected to increase it further to 77.2 per cent no later than July 2019.

The new increase has now been achieved with the purchase of an additional stake of just over 8.6 per cent from the Grantchester family.

Money of importance
Back in February 2016, Moshiri paid £87.5 million for his original 49.9 per cent stake, valuing the club at £175 million. The Toffees have not announced how much the increase in shareholding has cost Moshiri.

The stake increase is of great importance to Everton as the club in 2018 reported a stunning operating loss of £98 million. The club lost £13 million of their bottom line despite a turnover of £189 million, which is more than a doubling of the club’s 2013 revenue.

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How long before he tries to take them private

Chester Perry
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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Thu Jun 06, 2019 6:56 pm

I have posted about Chelsea's FIFA case a few times - and about the surprising change from FIFA to not suspend the transfer ban pending appeal = as it has done on 3 prior occasions. The current edition of the European Leagues Organisation's Legal Newsletter takes a deeper look at the fine points of that decision - warning can be a bit heavy/dry/academic and runs to 9 pages, but still curiously fascinating

https://europeanleagues.com/wp-content/ ... ter-EL.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Anyone interested in looking through past newsletters - the breadth of information in them is very good - can find them here

https://us12.campaign-archive.com/home/ ... 0754a84ca1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Chester Perry
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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Thu Jun 06, 2019 7:12 pm

Apparently Jurgen Klopp is a Football Club Commercial Managers dream (and their Kit suppliers) this explains all that talk about a potentially massive new kit deal that has been doing the rounds the last couple of months

https://offthepitch.com/a/massive-comme ... en-manager" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

just be careful not to confuse those retail sales numbers with what the club gets - manufacturers, retailers and transporters (amongst others) have to take their cut out of it.

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Thu Jun 06, 2019 7:17 pm

Simon Chadwick provides a wide-ranging thread on why Qatar's QSI will not be giving up on PSG - the linked article on Soft Power is a particularly informative read

https://twitter.com/Prof_Chadwick/statu ... 7912088576" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Fri Jun 07, 2019 12:59 am

In post 1013 I linked to an article about league bodies looking at sponsorship for VAR - It appears the Premier League has decided it will not pursue that root this season at least

https://media.sportbusiness.com/news/va ... er-league/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:33 am

I have suggested before that Andrea Agnelli's masterplan for UEFA Club Competition's does not mean the end of domestic leagues - rather it would lead to smaller leagues so the privileged few can earn more than the others and therefore perpetuate their entry into the European gravy train. Apparently he has confirmed it today - just 16 teams in a league would enable clubs like Juventus to play 14 games in the group stages of the Champions league.

That gives them the same number of home games as they have now, but those clubs not in Europe would have 4 less - yet his desired changes are supposedly for the benefit of all

https://twitter.com/tariqpanja/status/1 ... 3399783424" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

sounds a lot like Sepp Blatter from 2006

https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/soccer ... -1.1187180" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Fri Jun 07, 2019 10:43 am

Chelsea have appealed their FIFA imposed conviction and sentence. Some of the legal issues surrounding FIFA's actions were linked in post #1343 -

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/48553950" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

and from the Telegraph

Chelsea appeal against two-window transfer ban to Court of Arbitration for Sport - Telegraph Sport, and PA
7 June 2019 • 9:12am

Chelsea have lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the transfer ban issued by Fifa.

The game's global governing body issued the sanction in February as punishment for Chelsea's transfer of young foreign players.

"The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has registered an appeal filed by Chelsea Football Club Ltd (CFC) against the Federation Internationale de Football Association (Fifa)," read a statement.

The ban prohibits Chelsea from signing players during the 2019 summer and January 2020 transfer windows.

The Europa League champions have taken their case to CAS after Fifa rejected their appeal.

"The appeal is directed against the Fifa Appeal Committee decision dated 11 April 2019 in which CFC was declared liable for violations of the Fifa Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players and banned from registering new players, nationally and internationally, for two entire and consecutive registration periods," the CAS statement read.

Chester Perry
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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Fri Jun 07, 2019 10:59 am

Andrea Agnelli is a Tad upset his plans are not falling easily into place - from the Telegraph

European Club Association in scathing attack on Premier League sides for opposing Champions League reform - Tom Morgan, Sports News Correspondent - 6 June 2019 • 9:26pm

The European Club Association launched a blistering attack on the Premier League on Friday night after England's top tier criticised proposals to overhaul qualification criteria for the Champions League.

Andrea Agnelli, president of Juventus and chairman of the ECA, said his plan had fallen victim to “protectionism” among Europe’s big five leagues. “This reform is not really about the big clubs," he said. "This reform is about Europe.”

The ECA plan foresees a three-tier league with promotion and relegation between each tier. It would see 14 group matches instead of six, and a promotion/relegation system to replace all clubs qualifying directly from domestic competition.

However, the Premier League said all English teams involved would voice their opposition at the meeting. With the majority of Spanish La Liga clubs and the head of the German leagues also voicing opposition, the ECA will almost certainly need to refine its bid to Uefa.

The strongly-worded Premier League statement prompted Agnelli to tell an ECA general assembly in Malta: “What has been really disappointing so far has been the whole conversation has been driven by representatives of the big five leagues. And I see it as a protectionism of the big five leagues vis-a-vis the rest of European football.

“The whole principle of access is about addressing stability. It’s why I talk about a principle of 40 teams remaining in the system. It’s not about tier one (the Champions League).”

On Wednesday, Gianni Infantino, the Fifa president, indicated the plans would not be ideal for spreading football globally. Aleksander Čeferin, the Uefa president, has responded cautiously to the potential reforms, which would need to take place with governing body agreement from 2024. He pointed out 900,000 tickets had been requested on official channels for the Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham.

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You can see him here talking to the ECA Assembly in Malta yesterday - it last for 17 mins so you probably need to make time for it

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqCzvZ78YGM" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The rhetoric is good and unified, but he is still talking about the privileged few from each league solidifying their elite status at home, and increasing the gap between the haves and have nots in the domestic top tiers - so in the PL it would be a top 8 or 9 with 7 or 8 clubs fighting to avoid the 3 relegation places (see post #1347) or does he envisage that promotion/relegation in domestic pyramids change too! -

As Sepp Blatter noted in 2006 There is little chance of leagues altering their structure so radically - it would take a FIFA ruling and FIFA would only do that if the extra games brought revenue to themselves and their member associations - not the clubs in a particular confederation like UEFA

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:29 am

Royboyclaret wrote:Real Madrid agree an initial £88m deal for Eden Hazard.

For a club that's skint they still appear to be able to fund these lavish transfers.
I have seen reports that they have committed Euro 250m in confirmed transfers so far - never mind wages and the links remaining for other players would double that comfortably. There are a lot of players on big salaries they want to shift (a number who are the wrong age to do so for huge prices) it is an incredible balancing act they are going to have tp perform, especially with UEFA FFP - their commercial department must be working round the clock to bring in the extra funds

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:49 am

Deloitte are carving out a niche for themselves in doing reports on the Socio-Economic impact of football -in post #552 I mentioned that Liverpool commissioned one to assess the Champions League season 2017/18 impact on the region. The Belgian pro-league has it's own (which is available to the public - hurrah), the 2nd report has just been published - there is a download available of the full report (in English) at this introductory link

https://www2.deloitte.com/be/en/pages/t ... d=68639323" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Fri Jun 07, 2019 12:33 pm

The ECA get together in Malta has finished and they are streaming the closing press conference live now

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS_z6o_ ... e=youtu.be" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

EDIT that link now allows you to playback the press conference - it lasts about an hour - sound is pour at the start but improves considerably after the introductions

Well worth a view
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Chester Perry
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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Fri Jun 07, 2019 12:34 pm

In posts #1347 and #1349 I suggested that the ECA and Andrea Agnelli's required a 16 team domestic top flight, that domestic leagues would never vote for that, such change could only be imposed by FIFA and the FIFA would only do so for their on Financial benefit.

Now I am wondering if FIFA President Gianni Infantino has found the revenue source to make the imposition - he is talking about a $50bn commercial revenue of a Club World Cup - if I am reading it right this blows the mooted $25bn Softbank/Saudi deal out of the water

http://www.sportspromedia.com/news/infa ... al-revenue" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:49 pm

As that ECA Press conference started see post #1352 - this report came out in the Associated press of even more clubs, in Germany, France, Italy coming out against the proposals, joining the English and Spanish clubs previously mentioned - more interestingly given the Big 5 leagues backlash in Malta is the opposition of the Swiss clubs

https://apnews.com/53100a535a8f4fa6b188ba3e43d837c6" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:58 pm

Suggestions are that Man City's appeal to CAS is likely to fail because they are appealing a referral rather than a judgement

https://www.theguardian.com/football/20 ... ly-to-fail" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

it is no real surprise - I (and I am sure many others) suspect that the appeal was made as an overtly aggressive warning shot to UEFA that the final judgement will be fought very hard if it comes against City and also that they are likely to push hard even if they come off victorious to add caution about starting future investigations.

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:00 am

The Blizzard is a football quarterly publication giving writers the freedom to tell the football stories that matter to them. It has an excellent reputation and features a very wide range of writing of both historical and recent football stories all of which are allowed significant depth - In this one James Montague talks about Qatar. It pieces together everything we have learned, adds additional regional and global manoeuvring and context

**WARNING** it is really quite long and readers are only allowed limited views on line so I will transcribe

Dare to Aspire

Qatar won the Asian Cup but the real story of their development lies off the pitch - By James Montague
7th June 2019

The scene was familiar from a thousand cup finals. There was the hastily constructed stage, dragged in to the centre circle of the pitch by frantic workers seconds after the final whistle; the army of grinning, suited soccer apparatchiks, awkwardly milling around nearby and desperate to glean reflected glory from the success of others; there were, of course, the party cannons shooting millions of pieces of gold confetti into the air. And in the centre was a team, lifting a trophy. This cup final, however, did have something unique: the winners.

It was the Asian Cup final. Lifting the trophy was Hassan Al-Haydos, the captain of the Qatar national team, the first time the tiny country had ever won a major honour. And “won” doesn’t really do Qatar justice. They blitzed their way to the title, winning all seven games, scoring 19 goals in the process. They conceded just once, when they beat Asia’s traditional powerhouse Japan 3-1 in the final at the Zayed Sports City stadium in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. It felt like a seismic moment in Asian football: Japan had won a record four titles and had, over the years, blazed a trail for Asian players competing at the highest level in Europe. On the other hand, Qatar didn’t exist as an independent nation 50 years ago, they’d never got past the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup before and had never qualified for a World Cup finals. Eleven players in their squad were aged under 23 while a third began their playing careers at the Aspire Academy, a lavishly funded global talent spotting operation that was opened in Doha, Qatar’s capital, in 2004. The top scorer in the tournament was the 22-year-old Almoez Ali, a Sudan-born, Qatar-raised Aspire graduate who finished with nine goals, including a stunning overhead kick against Japan.

Qatar, of course, will be at the 2022 World Cup finals, as host. It is now a country whose name has become synonymous with the game for all the wrong reasons. Since winning the right to host the finals in a deeply flawed bidding process back in 2010, Qatar’s reputation has – rightly – taken a hit on everything from the use of indentured slave labour to build its stadiums and infrastructure to creditable allegations of corruption in the bidding process itself. There was also the thorny issue of the national team’s relatively poor performance and low Fifa ranking. In 2017 Qatar were hovering around 100th place, alongside El Salvador and Mauritania. So this unexpected success on the pitch in Abu Dhabi was supposed to be a good news story, both for Qatar and the rest of the Gulf. At the time they won the bid, the 2022 World Cup was sold as the Middle East’s World Cup, a chance for the whole region to write a different story for itself.

Yet Qatar’s victory was not welcomed by their Arab neighbours and especially not the hosts. Since June 2017 Qatar has been ostracised politically and economically by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain. All trade and diplomatic links with Qatar have been cut, nominally on the charges that Qatar supported terrorism. The land border with Saudi Arabia was closed and all flights between the boycotting nations and Doha were suspended. There were no Qatari fans in the stadiums to watch their team’s run to the final, aside from a handful of boisterous supporters from neutral Oman and a mysterious woman from South Korea called Mary Lee who would turn up to games wearing a silk dress made of the Qatari flag.

The UAE, along with Bahrain, had outlawed any show of support for Qatar with possible sanctions of up to five years in prison. A handful of journalists for Qatari newspapers had been turned away at the border. Saoud al Mohannadi, a vice president of both the AFC and the Qatar Football Association, had also briefly been denied entry, before an outcry reversed the decision. Qatar had largely been boycotted by the home crowd too and played in front of a virtually empty stadium when they beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 in the group stage. When Qatar dismantled the UAE 4-0 in front of a hostile crowd in the semi-final, Qatar’s goal scorers were pelted with plastic bottles and a shower of sandals, the ultimate sign of disrespect in the Arab world.

Despite the hostility, Qatar powered to the final and were deserved winners. The Fifa president Gianni Infantino and the AFC’s Bahraini president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa fixed their grins as they handed out the medals before the players celebrated winning a tournament under extraordinary political pressure. But this was also a rare occasion when the undercurrents of the Gulf crisis had been dragged into the open. Football, and Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, has now become of diplomatic importance, on the frontline of a dispute that is more than just a regional spat. It has involved power politics at the highest level, the intervention of Donald Trump, state hacking, a rejected plan to expand the World Cup finals to 48 teams and a disinformation campaign targeting Europe’s press. It is also a dispute that has the potential to completely change the global game forever.

When the then-Fifa president Sepp Blatter opened an envelope and removed a card on which was written the word “QATAR”, even he seemed surprised. It was 2 December 2010 and Qatar had been awarded the rights to host the 2022 finals, despite Fifa’s own technical committee concluding that Qatar was “high risk” due to the extreme summer heat. Yet the victory, if you look a little closer, was not a surprise at all – and not just because of the persistent allegations of corruption that have surrounded the bid ever since. Over the past decade Qatar’s monarchy, through its web of investment vehicles and government departments, has invested its huge wealth in sport as a soft-power launchpad towards global recognition.

In 1971, a few months before the seven emirates of the Trucial Coast came together as the UAE, Qatar announced its independence (Qatar and Bahrain had also for a time considered joining the new entity). 24 years later Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani seized power from his disinterested father, Sheikh Khalifa, in a bloodless palace coup while he was on one of his many holidays in Switzerland. The new Emir began with a reformist zeal. The ministry of information was abolished, paving the way for the establishment of the Al Jazeera news network, and it was announced that democratic reforms would take place to create a British-style constitutional monarchy in which power resided with an elected parliament (which never really happened).

According to an Economist article in 1996, his programme had the royal families of surrounding Gulf states worried. In fact, there was a failed attempted counter coup in February 1996, led by a French mercenary called Paul Barril at the behest of a cousin of the former Emir. In 2018 Barril gave an interview to Al Jazeera in which he claimed the project was, in part, under the patronage of Abu Dhabi (but more on that later). The exploitation of the world’s third-largest gas reserves off Qatar’s coast changed everything. It suddenly made Qatar, per capita, the richest country on earth. It was under the Emir – now protected by the US military’s central command, Centcom, stationed outside Doha, and housing some 11,000 US troops – and following the lead of the UAE that Qatar began to invest heavily in sport in general, and football in particular.

Since the turn of the millennium Dubai has led the charge in refashioning its international reputation and appeal through sport. The Dubai-owned Emirates airline has been, at one time or another, the main shirt sponsors of Chelsea, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Benfica and AC Milan. It was a major sponsor of Fifa and the World Cup, as well as the world’s oldest football competition, the English FA Cup.

There was even an aborted deal with one Dubai-owned investment vehicle to buy Liverpool, although the club ultimately decided to sell the club to the US businessmen Tom Hicks and George Gillette Jr, a move that very nearly dragged Liverpool into bankruptcy. Still, Qatar shamelessly copied Dubai’s blueprint. The country successfully bid for the 2006 Asian Games and floated the idea of bidding for something bigger – a World Cup finals, perhaps, or even the Olympic Games – but the thorny issue of the desert heat seemed to make it impossible. A Gulf summer can see daytime temperatures hit 50 degrees Celsius. The poor state of the national team was also an issue. To remedy the latter, Qatar invested in the Aspire Academy. I stood in the main hall in the capital Doha at the grand opening in 2005. Aspire had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to see Diego Maradona and Pelé appear on stage together. Later, the 50,000-capacity Khalifa International Stadium would open and become its centrepiece.
Much of the investment appeared to fail, however. After announcing its plans to host the 2016 summer Olympic Games in Doha, which would have been moved to the slightly cooler month of October, the city did not even make the shortlist when it was announced in 2008. Qatar also failed to become a candidate city for the 2020 Games.

And then it all started to make sense. In 2009 Qatar launched its long-shot bid to host the 2022 World Cup finals. Aspire, which had appeared to be little more than a well-funded sports hall, had become front and centre of the campaign. The Qataris had opened numerous academies around the globe, looking to identify and recruit talent in previously overlooked or underdeveloped footballing nations. It had set up a program called “Football Dreams” designed to mine for talent in Africa, opening a facility in Senegal. Aspire, of course, denied that the operation was designed to get around Fifa’s strict naturalisation rules, rules which had largely been put in place because Qatar had bent them to breaking point, filling its national team with Brazilians and Uruguayans. To this day Qatar’s record goalscorer (as well as the holder of Qatar’s all-time appearance record) is Sebastian Soria, a Uruguayan striker who moved to Qatar when he was 21. Aspire had also built a presence in Guatemala, Thailand and Paraguay. All three had a member on the Fifa Exco, the 24-man governing body that decided who would host the 2022 finals. (Qatar has denied that Aspire is a way to lobby and get around naturalisation rules, pointing out that graduates of the Football Dreams program have represented different national teams. Two graduates, Moussa Wague and Francis Odinaka Uzoho, played for Senegal and Nigeria respectively at the 2018 World Cup.)

One of the most significant moments of the campaign took place 10 days before the vote, as the French president Nicolas Sarkozy invited Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, the crown prince of Qatar, and the Uefa president Michel Platini to the Élysée Palace, alongside a representative from Colony Capital, the American firm of investors that owned 98% of Paris Saint-Germain. What went on during that meal is still fiercely debated. An investigation by France Football called “Qatar-gate” alleged that Sheikh Tamim offered to buy PSG and clear their debt if Platini voted for Qatar 2022. On top of that a new TV channel called beIN Sports – spun off from Al Jazeera Sports and rebranded – would be created and buy French TV football rights. Platini responded to the allegations forcefully. “To say that my choice … was part of a deal between the French state and Qatar is pure speculation … and lies,” he said. “I do not rule out legal action against anyone who casts doubt on the honesty of my vote.” Later, the French media reported that Platini admitted that Sarkozy didn’t tell him he had to vote for Qatar but that it would be “a good thing if [he] did.” A Qatari state funded entity, QSI, did indeed buy PSG, clearing its debts and transforming its fortunes. Platini subsequently admitted that he voted for Qatar before being banned from football for unrelated financial discrepancies.

Qatar’s joy at winning the bid soon dissipated as the global media microscope threw up a constant stream of damaging stories, usually surrounding the poor treatment of migrant workers. But another seismic event was taking place in December 2010 that would eventually see the country significantly diverge from its neighbours and sow the seeds for the current crisis: Mohamed Bouazizi, a young Tunisian man who sold fruit and vegetables in the streets of Sidi Bouzid, set himself on fire after being humiliated by a local official. His death sparked a series of uprisings across the Middle East that began in Tunisia and spread across the region. In Egypt the long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak was removed from power after hundreds of thousands of people filled Tahrir Square. After Egypt’s first free elections, Mohamed Morsi became president, a candidate aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is a popular Islamist organisation that is banned in much of the Middle East as it poses the biggest threat to the Gulf’s conservative, autocratic monarchies. The election of Morsi terrified the Gulf Arab states who feared that they would be next.

At the same time two crown princes had risen to power who both viewed the Brotherhood (and Iran, a historic rival to Saudi Arabia) as existential threats: Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan in the UAE and Mohammad bin Salman al Saud in Saudi Arabia. MbZ, as the former is known, was already de facto in charge of the UAE and its formidable security apparatus. When he met the British prime minister David Cameron in 2012, he was briefed on the meeting beforehand by Simon Pearce, a PR man and advisor to MbZ who has been charged with reshaping Abu Dhabi’s international reputation. Pearce is also a director at Manchester City. According to leaked documents seen by the Guardian, Pearce briefed MbZ with a series of outlandish claims, including one that the BBC was riddled with Brotherhood sympathisers, in a bid to force the UK government to take a tougher stance on the Muslim Brotherhood. If they didn’t, British businesses would find difficulty in securing contracts from the UAE, especially when it came to arms and security.

This prompted Cameron to launch an inquiry in to the Brotherhood’s activities, headed by the UK’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir John Jenkins. His first stop was Abu Dhabi, to meet with the Manchester City chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak. Al Mubarak is MbZ’s right-hand man and at the heart of the UAE government where he sits on Abu Dhabi’s powerful Executive Council, as well as running a series of state-funded investment vehicles. “The UK will need to consider the political implications when three of its most important allies in the region [Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE] have taken a clear decision regarding the MBS [Muslim Brotherhood],” the Guardian reported Mubarak as saying. “Difficult conversations we’ve been having will become far more difficult. We are raising a red flag.”

The most powerful people in Abu Dhabi, and the UAE, are intimately connected to Manchester City and, of course, to the other clubs within its vast City Football Group, including New York City FC and Girona. The group’s owner, Sheikh Mansour, is MbZ’s brother and part of the Bani Fatima, the six sons of the UAE’s late, and well-respected, founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan and his favourite wife Fatima. The true power within the UAE is found inside the Bani Fatima. When the Chinese president Xi Jinping came on a UK state visit in October 2015, he visited Manchester City’s state of the art training facility and was shown around by Khaldoon al Mubarak, with David Cameron in tow behind them. A few months later a Chinese state backed consortium, CMC, purchased a 13 per cent stake in City Football Group for £265 million. Earlier this year City Football Group added Sichuan Jiuniu FC in China to its growing roster of clubs.

Mohamed bin Salman, meanwhile, made a much bigger splash in a shorter period of time. MbS quickly accumulated power once his father became king in 2015. He was appointed deputy Crown Prince and defence minister, along with a series of other important appointments. Despite several decades separating them, MbS and MbZ shared a similar vision for the region and an impatience with implementing it. As Simon Henderson, a director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy pointed out in a profile of the pair in Politico: “they appear to have a mentee/mentor relationship, with the older MbZ viewing MbS as the future king of Saudi Arabia, who needs to be tutored by an older brother type figure.”

There had been some early hope surrounding MbS’s reformist agenda. On the one hand he pushed for the liberalisation of some parts of Saudi society, namely reducing the power of the hated religious police and implementing other social reforms: women were allowed to drive and attend football matches. Cinemas would reopen. And a huge investment fund, Vision 2030, would diversify the economy away from oil. On the other hand, there was the 2017 purge against members of Saudi Arabia’s elite in which dozens of businessmen were effectively locked up in the gilded cage of the Ritz Carlton Riyadh until they agreed to hand over billions of dollars in assets in a purported crackdown on corruption. And there is the continued crackdown on dissent and free speech that has seen hundreds of activists, including dozens of women, make accusations of arbitrary arrest and torture. The two have also embroiled themselves in the disastrous conflict in Yemen – which has killed close to 20,000 civilians – as well as intervening in various conflicts in the Middle East, especially Syria and Libya, where they saw Islamist groups gaining a foothold.

Qatar, meanwhile, supported the Muslim Brotherhood. Billions of dollars were loaned to Egypt to help prop up the Morsi government. There was also support for other Islamist groups in the Middle East. Qatar would host leading figures of Hamas and the Taliban. There were allegations of funding groups that were fighting Bashar al Assad’s government in Syria’s civil war, a complicated patchwork of armed groups that were being funded by various outside actors including the US and the Saudis, sometimes on the same side, sometimes against each other. When Morsi was eventually removed from power in a military coup in 2013, the UAE and Saudi Arabia promised upwards of US$12billion of aid to the new president Abdel Fattah el Sisi, a military man who has led a crackdown against dissent in Egypt, whether from Islamists, liberals or activists. Egypt would also join the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in boycotting Qatar. But what really antagonised Qatar’s neighbours over the years was Al Jazeera, the freewheeling state-funded TV network based in Qatar that aired views from dissidents that openly criticised the policies of Saudi and Emirati leaders (while, of course, refraining to criticise Qatar’s own royal family who bankrolled it). They accused Qatar of using Al Jazeera to agitate opposition in their own backyards. (It was no surprise that when the boycott was announced, one of the demands was for Al Jazeera to be shut down.)

There had been various fallings out before, including a diplomatic break in 2014. But the 2016 election of Donald Trump as US president presented an opportunity. The Saudis and the UAE – who had been supportive of a Trump presidency after becoming enraged with Barak Obama’s softening of relations with Iran and the signing of a deal designed to stop it developing nuclear weapons – convinced him that Qatar was the bad guy. Qatar had recently been embroiled in a scandal over a group of kidnapped Qatari royal family members who had been snatched while hunting in southern Iraq, looking for the houbara bustard, a prized catch in the Gulf. Qatar’s government reportedly ended up paying anywhere up to a billion dollars as a ransom to free the captives, money that found its way into the hands of Islamist militias with ties to the Revolutionary Guard in Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. According to Robert F Worth, writing in the New York Times Magazine, the ransom “began to figure, often in highly distorted form, in a Saudi-financed PR blitz that portrayed Qatar as a fountainhead of terrorism. The anti-Qatar campaign was a patchwork of true and false or questionable claims that only muddied the waters around the ransom and Qatar’s broader culpability in bankrolling Islamist groups.”

The final straw was a report from Qatar’s official news agency, the QNA, which quoted the country’s new Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani (Tamim replaced his father who voluntarily abdicated in 2013) praising the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran and Hamas while criticising the newly elected US president Donald Trump. The Qataris claimed that the site was hacked by Saudi operatives and the story was fake. But it was too late. Sure enough Trump – who had just been lavishly welcomed to Riyadh by MbS – took a side. Shortly after the blockade of Qatar was announced, Trump tweeted: “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!”

Two weeks later MbS was officially named Saudi Crown Prince and an information and economic war has been raging ever since. There have been some pettier moves too, like the Saudi announcement that it would build a huge trench to separate Qatar from the mainland and fill it with nuclear waste. There was the case of beoutQ, a TV network that emerged over night and has brazenly been bootlegging Premier League and World Cup football matches in Saudi Arabia. The Middle Eastern rights were held by Qatar-owned beIN. But the World Cup was the biggest prize, in which Qatar had invested huge resources and political capital. When the emails of the UAE’s ambassador to the US – Yousef al Otaiba, a well-connected scion of Washington’s political elite – were leaked they laid bare a trail of plans aimed at diminishing Qatar’s ability to host the World Cup, including one that would force Qatar to share the World Cup with its neighbours. Allies of the UAE claimed that these emails were also hacked by Qatari operatives. In fact a dirty information war has long been underway, with accusations of hacking and counter-hacking, of astro-turfed human rights organisations popping up and disappearing overnight and millions of dollars of funding being poured into DC’s amoral think tank laundromat to skew research and PR one way or the other. Earlier this year the New York Times reported that a little-known London-based consultancy firm called Cornerstone Global Associates – whose founder has close links to the UAE’s ruling elite – had been involved in a campaign to place negative stories in the British media designed to damage Qatar’s chances of hosting the World Cup (I was part of that reporting team). Cornerstone said that its research was impartial.

So far there has been no killer blow. The boycott had initially created a headache for Qatar. Building materials for the World Cup had to be rerouted and new suppliers found. Supermarket shelves were initially emptied. But the economy levelled out. New trade routes were opened up with Oman. Turkey stepped in to supply food and other perishable goods. Years of high gas prices meant that the country had a huge surplus which it had to use a large chunk of to stay afloat. Even Donald Trump changed his mind, inviting the young Emir to the White House. Qatar had just signed a $300 million weapons system contract. Qatar believed that it had weathered the storm. And then came Gianni Infantino and his idea to expand the 2022 World Cup to 48 teams, four years ahead of time.

Up in the stands of the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, during the World Cup last June, Gianni Infantino watched an unexpectedly energetic Russia beat Saudi Arabia 5-0. To his right sat the Russian president Vladimir Putin, to his left Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad bin Salman. Rubbing shoulders with world leaders came with the role. Sepp Blatter thrived in such an environment. But Infantino had been elected as a clean pair of hands after the scandals of the Blatter era and had, early on, followed through on one of his election pledges: expanding the 2026 World Cup (to be held in the US, Mexico and Canada) to 48 teams. He would later make a startling pitch to the Fifa Council, the organisation’s new ruling body: a revamped Club World Cup, expanded to include the biggest European clubs. It was a direct challenger to Uefa’s Champions League.

It later emerged that the deal included a global version of Uefa’s Nations League and rights to Fifa’s vast and highly lucrative portfolio of intellectual property: videos, photos, computer games, the works. The figure was huge. US$25 billion was far more than Fifa could have hoped to ask for. The current Club World Cup, according to the New York Times, is worth US$100m at best. Infantino would not reveal to Fifa who was behind the deal due to a non-disclosure agreement. He wanted to push through agreement at the Fifa Council anyway, claiming that there was a deadline before the deal would be withdrawn. Uefa’s president Aleksander Čeferin, fearing for the supremacy of the Champions League, fiercely opposed the move, as did many of Europe’s top club sides, at least in public.

The Council said they needed more time. Over the following months more details have dripped out, including the role of SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate with strong ties to both Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The three have combined to create the world’s largest tech investment fund, worth US$100bn, called the Vision Fund: US$45bn has come from Saudi Arabia, and US$15m from the UAE’s sovereign wealth vehicle Mubadala. MbZ is the chairman of Mubadala, Sheikh Mansour is deputy chairman, and Khaldoon al Mubarak the CEO and managing director.
The details of the deal remain opaque, complicated further by the grisly killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who wrote critical columns for the Washington Post. The CIA concluded that MbS ordered the murder (the Saudi government has predictably denied that MbS had anything to do with it).

Infantino was forced to stress that direct state funds would not be used to pay for the deal. In fact, many of the details have come from revelations that highlight Infantino’s pliant attitude to the powerful in the Middle East. Through documents provided by the whistleblowing site Football Leaks, the German news magazine Der Spiegel revealed that Infantino held a meeting in Abu Dhabi in December 2017, around the time of the Fifa Club World Cup, with an investment company called Centricus to discuss the monster US$25bn deal. Centricus, according to the Financial Times, was the investment company that put together SoftBank’s Vision Fund. SoftBank would also be involved in the prospective Fifa project.

There were other revelations about Infantino’s dealings in the Middle East. When Infantino was president of Uefa, Manchester City and PSG (effectively owned by Qatar) were found guilty of breaching Financial Fair Play rules. FFP had been introduced to try to curb out of control spending and stop clubs going into debt. Uefa found that both City and PSG had massively inflated their sponsorship contracts with other state-controlled companies, like Etihad airlines in the UAE and the Qatar Tourism Authority. The question was: what should be the punishment? Rather than accept censure, the leaks revealed that City threatened Uefa with legal action that could bankrupt it. The club’s lawyer Simon Cliff allegedly wrote in an email that City’s chairman “Khaldoon [al Mubarak] said he would rather spend 30 million on the 50 best lawyers in the world to sue them for the next 10 years.” Uefa would have to decide whether to proceed as planned or “avoid the destruction of their rules and organisation.”

Emails written by Infantino show him soft pedalling with both parties. In one alleged email to Khaldoon al Mubarak Infantino explains how he will try to make any punishment sound harsher than it actually was. “You will see that I’ve sometimes chosen a wording which ‘looks’ more ‘strong’ … Let’s be positive!” For over-inflating sponsorship contracts by as much as half a billion dollars both City and PSG got a slap on the wrists. But City didn’t stop there. According to Football Leaks, the club’s ownership decided to get around the rules by orchestrating a campaign to funnel money from Sheikh Mansour to the club whilst disguising it as sponsorship money coming from other UAE-owned companies. When the club’s chief financial officer questioned whether he should be manipulating sponsorship contracts, and in some cases backdating payments, he got a reply from the club’s director Simon Pearce: “Of course, we can do what we want.”

Uefa says it is investigating the new claims. Manchester City, meanwhile, said it would not comment on “out of context materials purported to have been stolen from City Football Group” and others associated with the club. “The attempt to damage the club’s reputation is clear.”

In Argentina last November Gianni Infantino addressed the leaders of the G20, the 20 largest economies in the world. MbS was among them. After saying for years that sports and politics should be separate, Infantino gave a speech that claimed football could in fact be used to heal social and political divisions. One example? The rift between the Gulf states. “Maybe, if football makes dreams come true, in 2022 we could also experience a World Cup in Qatar as well as, why not, some games in other countries of the Arabian Gulf. But this is another story, hopefully with a happy end. Inshallah!” he said. Later he told the Guardian that expanding and sharing the World Cup could help bring peace in the Gulf. When asked about Saudi Arabia hosting matches he said, “if any discussion around the World Cup can help in any way whatsoever to make the situation evolve in that region, with regard to Saudi Arabia, it’s a nice impact maybe.”

In March, the Fifa Council approved the new 24-team club tournament, with the first edition planned for 2021, although the European Clubs Association (ECA) later agreed to boycott the event. Meanwhile, the same meeting saw the Fifa Council agree that Qatar 2022 should be expanded to 48 teams. Several UAE officials have expressed their readiness to step in if called upon, subject to a final decision made in June. But any expansion would require Qatar’s agreement. Unless a hard political calculation is made at the highest level, that is unlikely to happen. A source close to Qatar’s organising committee said there was zero appetite to share the 2022 World Cup and that as long as the decision rumbled on, time would eventually scupper Infantino’s plans and, they cheekily added, Infantino’s hopes for a Nobel peace prize. After all, World Cup qualification will have to begin soon. But that doesn’t mean the spy games and political machinations have ended. Unless the political landscape alters, Qatar’s 2022 World Cup finals will see enough political positioning and power politics to make the Asian Cup in the UAE – with its booed national anthems and thrown sandals – look almost quaint in comparison. There was even a last-minute attempt by the UAE to have Qatar thrown out of the final in Abu Dhabi, on the grounds that Almoez Ali and the Iraq-born Bassam Al-Rawi were both ineligible to play for Qatar. The complaint was rejected.

In the end Qatar were rarely troubled by Japan as they ran out 3-1 winners. It could have been more. After the cup was presented, the players picked up their La Masia-trained Spanish coach Félix Sánchez and bounced him in the air in celebration. “Today we made history for our country, so we need to be very proud about our achievement,” Sánchez said after the match. “This is one step more towards being ready for 2022 and represent Qatar as a very competitive team at the World Cup.” The team may well be ready to play the World Cup finals in Qatar in 2022. But at what price?

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:18 am

It had to happen the economy of European football demanded it - he just has too many important clients who are being targeted this summer - The global transfer window ban on Mino Raiola looks to have been suspended following an appeal to CAS

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/footb ... ummer.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Chester Perry
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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:35 pm

Posted a few times about Southampton and their Chinese ownership, links to the Chinese State and strange sponsorship deal - today their owner talks to the Financial Times

https://www.ft.com/content/599f0a1e-891 ... cea8523dc2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Vegas Claret » Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:42 pm

Chester Perry wrote:It had to happen the economy of European football demanded it - he just has too many important clients who are being targeted this summer - The global transfer window ban on Mino Raiola looks to have been suspended following an appeal to CAS

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/footb ... ummer.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
yeah zero surprise

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:50 pm

In post #1338 linked to a Guardian article about the shameful abuse and exploitation in Afghanistan by the Football Authorities there - today @RobHarris informs us that

FIFA ethics judges have met in Paris and imposed life ban & $1M fine on former Afghanistan Football Federation President Keramuudin Karim for “having abused his position and sexually abused various female players” - follows complaints from at least 5 Afghani players

EDIT - Guardian now has an article on the judgement

https://www.theguardian.com/football/20 ... d-for-life" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Last edited by Chester Perry on Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:50 pm

Some might call it sour grapes others may simply say that money has always brought this level of attitude - Whatever your thoughts on the Ronaldo "Las Vegas rape case" this article from Tortoise media exposes much about what happens to those who catch hold of the fruit from football's Magic Money Tree


Untouchable - By Tony Evans

Cristiano Ronaldo is elusive. Defenders cannot catch him. Even at 34, in what should be his waning days as a footballer, he was still good enough to shoot Portugal into the Nations League final against Holland this week with a hat-trick of goals in the 3-1 victory over Switzerland. Fernando Santos, his international manager, called him “a genius”.

Kathryn Mayorga calls him a rapist. The 34-year-old American wants to see the Juventus forward in court to face charges that he sexually assaulted her in a Nevada hotel. Ronaldo admits there was a physical encounter but claims it was consensual. The 10th anniversary of the alleged attack is on 13 June and the case shows no sign of nearing its conclusion. A Las Vegas police criminal investigation is making little headway and Mayorga’s lawyers cannot get close enough to the Portuguese to unnerve him. For a brief moment in time it appeared the #MeToo movement would at least force powerful men to confront claims made against them. Ronaldo is demonstrating that this was an illusion. He may well be innocent but seems to have no interest in proving his lack of guilt. The Juventus superstar lives in a bubble of wealth and fame that insulates him from these allegations.

Leslie Mark Stovall, the attorney engaged by Mayorga, has filed a civil suit against Ronaldo in federal court in the United States. A similar claim in the Nevada state system was withdrawn because federal laws are easier to enforce when dealing with non-US citizens. Trying to pin down a fantastically rich and famous footballer ratchets up the degree of difficulty of this type of legal action to almost impossible levels.

Ronaldo can afford the finest legal services in the world. Stovall & Associates is not quite in that league. There is a clear sense that the firm is not quite sure how to handle the media attention that a case like Mayorga’s brings. Larissa Drohobyczer, who deals with inquiries on the case, is slow to respond and there is a reluctance to engage on even the most general questions. Perhaps she is too busy blogging for the company’s website. In March she contributed an article entitled ‘Dog Bites: Infections and long-term injury.’ Negative publicity may be the only thing that can hurt Ronaldo but Stovall is not equipped to harness the power of the press. The lawyer is up against a finely tuned PR machine that has spent years finely tuning the player’s image as a role model and hero.

Stovall hired a bailiff – a process server – in Italy to present Ronaldo with a writ. The bailiff spent months stalking the player but was unable to hand him the papers. “It is very hard to get near to footballers,” said a security and investigations expert based in Turin. He is unconnected with the Ronaldo case and prefers to remain anonymous but understands the level of cosseting celebrity sportsmen receive. “They are protected 24 hours a day. Juventus make sure it is difficult to get near them.

“A rich man can hide from the law even if they are in the public view.”

The obvious points of contact are the most secure. Ronaldo bowls into the Vinovo, Juve’s training facility, in his white Rolls Royce Cullinan. He is waved past the guards and barely gives the handful of fans hanging around near the gates a second look. No one at the facility is prepared to accept any paperwork on Ronaldo’s behalf. It is the same when he leaves, heading back to Collina, a leafy area just across the River Po from central Turin. It is the traditional district where footballers and VIPs reside. This is Piedmont’s Beverly Hills. It is close to the town centre but secluded – and crawling with security.

Ronaldo lives here with Georgina Rodriguez, his fiancé. They are not completely reclusive. “He is sometimes seen around the city,” Lorenzo Bettoni, a local journalist said. “Not too frequently but sometimes, yes. His fiancée Georgina does go around the city much more than him. She often shares social media stories from the central Parco del Valentino or from some of the main squares. Less than a month ago Georgina and Ronaldo went out for a night walk in the city centre. Of course, it was not crowded and it wasn’t full of fans so they could enjoy it more.”

Occasions like this offer process servers a small window of opportunity, although the presence of minders would present a challenge. Ronaldo is never unprotected. The club are his first line of defence. On matchdays Juve’s Allianz Stadium is in lockdown. The coach carrying players to the Atalanta game is surrounded by a police escort and goes through a perimeter gate and inside the bowels of the stadium before its occupants disembark. A couple of hundred hand-picked fans, mostly children, are the only members of the public who can get near. They stand behind barriers lining the walls of the corridor. The players walk to the dressing room with their arms outstretched, touching the eager fingers of their acolytes on each side. Ronaldo goes through the routine without making eye contact. He appears serene, otherworldly and looks curiously young. Before kick off he receives the Italian player of the year award to adoring applause. He high-fives the zebra mascot.

“He’s a narcissist,” a coach who has worked with him, said. “He trains really hard to make himself better. But he thinks the other 10 players are there to make him look good. Everything is about him.”

“He’s a nice boy,” another backroom staff member at one of his former clubs said. “He likes to be loved. He spends so much time looking in the mirror. If you say ‘Your body’s looking good today, Cris,’ he’s delighted.”

During Ronaldo’s time at Real Madrid eyebrows were raised about his relationship with Badr Hadi, a Dutch cage fighter of Moroccan descent. The striker spent much of his spare time flying to north Africa to socialise with Hadi. The cage fighter published a photograph on social media holding Ronaldo in his arms like a bride being taken across the threshold with the caption: “Just married. Hahahaha. Always there to pick you up bro.” It sparked speculation about the player’s sexuality but those who have worked with Ronaldo have a different theory.

“He loves being around beautiful people,” a former colleague said. “Of either sex. But his ultimate sexual partner is in the mirror. If he could make love to anyone it would be himself.”

In Turin no one cares about Ronaldo’s sex life. On a wet night outside the Allianz every fan that was asked about the rape allegations shrugged and gave a version of “she’s just after his money”. One fan, wearing the Clockwork Orange logo of the Drughi Ultras, spat out “**** her.”

Bettoni confirms the lack of interest in the Mayorga case. “Does anyone care? Honestly, not too much,” he said. “Fans have always defended him. The media talk about it only when it is impossible not to talk about it. Even when there are news updates from the US there is not too much noise on the TV or in the papers in Italy.”

It is as if nothing happened 10 years ago. But something happened.

On the afternoon of 13 June, 2009, Mayorga reported to police an assault that occurred in the early hours. She underwent a rape kit examination at hospital but did not name Ronaldo, instead saying she had been raped by a “public figure” and “an athlete”. She felt intimidated because of his fame. The nurse’s notes were stark: “Patient’s rectum penetrated,” they say, adding that the ejaculation occurred “in assailant’s hands”.
Mayorga went to a female lawyer on the recommendation of a friend. The attorney was inexperienced and insensitivity shown by some policemen unnerved the then 25-year-old. After she named Ronaldo things got worse. The footballer’s lawyers employed private detectives and, whether by design or ineptitude, Mayorga noticed that she was being followed and observed. Her mental state deteriorated. The decision was made to settle. In the negotiations Ronaldo’s lawyers were like a Champions League team playing a pub side. Mayorga received £295,000 and signed a non-disclosure agreement. One of the purposes of serving the Portuguese with civil papers is to begin the process of overturning the non-disclosure clause.

Ronaldo, even a decade ago, could afford a payoff. He was earning an estimated £36 million per year after his move from Manchester United to Real. Now he is considerably wealthier. His net worth is estimated at £305 million. He owns a fleet of cars – the centrepiece being a £3.7 million Bugatti Chiron – and a variety of properties, including a £13 million apartment in Trump Tower in Manhattan. The forward signed a lifetime sponsorship deal with Nike three years ago worth in the region of £790,000,000. The American company and EA Sports, his other main sponsor, expressed concern over the Mayorga allegations but took no action. The money continues to come rolling in. Ronaldo can afford the finest lawyers, engage scores of private detectives and squads of bodyguards.

After the deal with Mayorga was negotiated he moved on. He had three children, a boy with a surrogate mother in 2010 and twins – one of each sex – seven years later who were likely conceived from frozen embryos. Six months after the arrival of the twins, Rodriguez gave birth to another little girl. Ronaldo’s life was unconventional but superficially wholesome.

Then Football Leaks produced information that could eventually shatter the illusion. The website was created by Rui Pinto, a Budapest-based Portuguese hacker. Pinto was mainly interested in exposing the financial underbelly of the game but in January 2017 he stumbled upon a file labelled “Las Vegas”. He opened it and found it contained details of the payment to Mayorga. Three months later Der Spiegel ran the story and named Ronaldo but not the alleged victim. The player’s agent called it “a piece of journalistic fiction”. There was only the merest flicker of interest across Europe. That began to change last summer when, emboldened by the #MeToo movement, Mayorga engaged Stovall and the lawyer approached Football Leaks for more information. What Pinto delivered was dynamite. It was a 27-page copy of an apparent interview with Ronaldo by one of his legal team. There were numerous transcripts of the conversation but the earliest version was shocking. Ronaldo, referred to as X, appears to back up the account of the incident provided by Mayorga (Ms C). “Did Ms C ever raise her voice, scream or yell?” X is asked.
“She said no and stop several times,” is the alleged reply.

Ronaldo is not very good at taking the blame. Against Atalanta his passing was off and he frequently wasted the ball. Even when it was clearly his fault he raged against his team-mates, gesturing dismissively and walking off with an angry little swagger. “He’s got worse throughout the season,” Bettoni said. “At the beginning he didn’t complain much. At the end of the season it was not rare to see him upset with the rest of his team-mates.”
“He’ll take responsibility for the glamour moments,” one of the coaches said. “If it’s a free kick to win the game, he’ll be at the front of the queue. He doesn’t like the dirty work. He’ll take responsibility for things that make him look good.”

It may well be that Ronaldo never has to face up to the accusations directed his way. Juventus are touring the Far East in the summer even though America has become the most important destination for big clubs. It’s been reported that the choice has been dictated by the fear that Ronaldo could be arrested if he set foot in the United States. Juve deny it is linked with Ronaldo’s situation but the statute of limitations in Nevada is 20 years for rape. It could be another decade before Ronaldo could safely return to Vegas.

There is also some unease about whether evidence supplied by Football Leaks would be admissible in court. Sports Illustrated’s legal expert Michael McCann believes the acceptability of hacked information is likely to be one of the main battlegrounds if the case goes that far. Christian Schertz, one of Ronaldo’s team of lawyers, has already claimed Mayorga’s suit is “blatantly illegal” and infringes privacy laws.

Ronaldo is a hard man to pin down. Mayorga and her lawyers may have no more luck than the legions of defenders who have chased the Portuguese pointlessly for his entire footballing career.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To me there are an awful lot of similarities to Man City and their dealings with the football authorities at the FA/PL, UEFA and very probably FIFA

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:15 am

In post #1339 Royboyclaret notes the spending at Real Madrid and notes that this is a club that is supposed to be in financial straits. Well they have some sales targets now

http://www.sportbible.com/football/tran ... s-20190609" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/footb ... tions.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Royboyclaret » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:04 am

Chester Perry wrote:In post #1339 Royboyclaret notes the spending at Real Madrid and notes that this is a club that is supposed to be in financial straits. Well they have some sales targets now

http://www.sportbible.com/football/tran ... s-20190609" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/footb ... tions.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Potentially serious financial problems ahead for Real Madrid with FFP.

They now operate in a world of astronomical numbers (alongside Barcelona) but finally realise that to comply with the financial rules they will need to offload a number of players. Therein lies the problem, finding clubs that are prepared to match the circa £480,000 per week earnings of the likes of Bale and Isco will be likely impossible. Little wonder that Gareth is more than happy to see out the remainder of his contract at the Bernabeu.

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:24 am

There has been a lot of discussion about the difference in prize money at the women's world cup (a FIFA competition remember)

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/07/the-201 ... llion.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

- @SwissRamble compares the men's amd women's version

https://twitter.com/SwissRamble/status/ ... 2372256768" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

FIFA signed an agreement with the UN about women's equality just last week in Paris - the aims were quite definite

https://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/new ... r-equality" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

FIFA has more money than ever - with around £2.5bn in reserves and is still making marginal investment into the women's game

https://www.foxsports.com/soccer/story/ ... ate-030719" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

When pushed last week on the subject of the WWC this is what FIFA President Gianni Infantino had to say

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/20 ... -football/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:12 pm

Mathew Briggs: a journey of discovery part 5 - he was the youngest player ever in the PL when he made his debut against Boro now he is in the 8th tier (and still in his 20's)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4vQgVWFD6s" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

parts 1-3 in post #1243 and part 4 in post #1289

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Tue Jun 11, 2019 1:16 pm

The last Football Benchmark of the season has finally been officially posted to the web - it was actually broadcast in Italy before the Champs League final. It is totally focused on KPMG's report on the valuation of Europe's top 32 clubs (by KPMG selection - not by value or any other metric I can see) - that report was posted 9 days ago in post #1230 - as usual subtitles are 5th button from bottom right - it is a longer episode than usual at nearly 25 mins

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQfDce_7Iew" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Tue Jun 11, 2019 1:28 pm

@Marcotti does an excellent piece for ESPN on the past weeks revelations re UEFA Club Competitions post 2024 - broken down into manageable and informative chunks

https://global.espn.com/football/blog/m ... they-crave" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

it is probably important to say 2024 is the key date as the FIFA world football calendar is set up until that time and all points beyond will be negotiated in the coming seasons. All interested parties are trying to get their ducks in a row before those discussions start

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:21 pm

@MartynZiegler on how the ECA's plans seem to be falling apart - from the Times

Plans to reform Champions League may collapse after 15 Serie A clubs oppose changes - Martyn Ziegler, Chief Sports Reporter
June 11 2019, 12:00pm,

Controversial plans for a radical reform of the Champions League to create a mainly closed competition are facing collapse after only one Italian club came out in favour of the changes.

The plans, based on an idea by the Juventus and European Clubs’ Association (ECA) president Andrea Agnelli, would see four groups of eight teams, with promotion and relegation and 24 out of the 32 teams retaining their position for the following season.

In England, all 20 Premier League clubs last week stated their opposition and now 15 Serie A clubs have also rejected it. Only Juventus voted in favour, while AC Milan, Inter Milan, Roma and Fiorentina abstained.

In Spain, only Barcelona and Real Madrid have been in favour, Germany’s Bundesliga has opposed it, while in France 17 Ligue 1 sides came out against the project while Paris Saint-Germain, Lyons and Marseilles abstained.

The ECA has proposed a competition made up of 128 teams in three divisions: the top division would be made up of four groups of eight teams, with the top six in each qualifying for the following edition regardless of where they finish in their domestic leagues.

There would also be 32 teams in the second division, the existing Europa League, and 64 in the third division, spilt geographically.

According to the Gazetto dello Sport, the 15 Serie A teams opposing the plan believe it could lead to a decrease of as much as 35 per cent in top-flight revenues.

The challenge for Uefa is how to satisfy the demands of the top clubs for more high-quality matches but also provide greater access to clubs from the mid-ranking countries such as the Netherlands and Turkey.

A meeting of Uefa, the ECA and the European leagues will take place in Nyon on September 11 to look at a range of ideas.

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:30 pm

Phil Wallace the owner of Stevenage says running a sustainable football league club is essentially down to luck

https://www.theguardian.com/football/20 ... s-football" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

While Andy Holt at Accrington and Marc Palios at Tranmere may have some sympathy for him - they would say the "luck" windfalls - should be invested in infrastructure that provides community lock-in and growth returns rather than wages - and to my mind they are right

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:36 pm

Shirt sponsorship is a big deal for all clubs, who that sponsorship is by is becoming a bigger deal for fans - with an increasingly vocal contingent (I included myself) arguing that Gambling companies should be prohibited. For the time being the new deals keep rolling in - Ours is thought to be bigger than last years £5m, Southampton's (with a still to be launched company said to be media but many believe betting) is thought to be around £7.5 a season and Wolves recently announced deal is said to be £8m a season (a 60% increase on last season, again betting). The linked article shows what happens if you don't go down the gambling route - Brighton anyone

http://www.blogwolves.com/new-shirt-sponsor-manbetx/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:39 pm

In post #1348 I noted that Chelsea had appealed to CAS to overturn the FIFA judgement on them that has resulted in a 2 window transfer ban - which is currently in effect. Interestingly it has emerged that Chelsea have not asked for that ban to be suspended pending the outcome of CAS's decision - probably a hedge, in case they fail, they don't want it carrying over into a 3rd window

From the Telegraph

Chelsea yet to apply for transfer ban to be frozen, CAS confirms - Matt Law, Football News Correspondent
11 June 2019 • 11:23am

Chelsea have not yet applied for their two-window transfer ban to be frozen while the Court of Arbitration for Sport rules on their latest appeal.
CAS last week confirmed that Chelsea have lodged an appeal against the ban, having already lost an appeal to Fifa.

Chelsea would not confirm whether or not they had also asked for the ban to be frozen, but CAS have now confirmed they have received no such application and that the ban currently remains in force.

A CAS statement sent to Telegraph Sport read: “For a challenged decision to be stayed during the CAS proceedings, a specific request to this effect must be made.

“At the time of writing, a request has not been filed in the Chelsea / Fifa matter. Accordingly, the Fifa decision remains in force.”

Telegraph Sport reported last week that Chelsea may be forced to start serving the ban this summer, which would prevent them from making any new signings.

There are fears that the two-window ban could even be extended to three windows if Chelsea requested that it is frozen and then lost their appeal.
Chelsea last week sold Eden Hazard to Real Madrid for a fee worth up to £130million, but may not be able to replace him before the start of next season.

Maurizio Sarri is on the brink of being confirmed as the new head coach of Juventus, leaving Chelsea to find his successor.

Opinion is currently split inside Stamford Bridge over whether or not Frank Lampard is ready after one season in charge at Derby County. Max Allegri, Javi Gracia, Nuno Espirito Santo and Laurent Blanc are all alternative, more experienced, options.

Chelsea are preparing to confirm the return of former goalkeeper Petr Cech in a technical role. He will take on some of the responsibilities left behind by former technical director Michael Emenalo, providing a link between the first team and the board.

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:57 pm

Forbes have released their list of top earning athletes - Lionel Messi becomes only the 2nd footballer to top the list in it's existence (began in 1990) earning just shy of £99m Ronaldo 2nd and Neymar 3rd - as football takes the top places the 4th footballer on the list is Paul Pogba in 44th place - in total 12 footballers make the list

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/48602166" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

the full list

https://www.forbes.com/athletes/list/#tab:overall" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:19 am

In post 1362 I highlighted the sales Real Madrid have to make to meet FFP and their incoming targets - Now we have stories that Barca have to find Euro 60m before the end of the month to balance their accounts for the current year

https://www.espn.co.uk/football/soccer- ... by-june-30" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:21 am

Intriguing story from Spain - La Liga have been fined for using their app to source bars illegally streaming games

https://twitter.com/riksharma_/status/1 ... 9866131459" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:37 am

Well that didn't take long - Andrea Agnelli reportedly has a new plan for the Champs League after last weeks washout (see posts #1367 and #1368) - from the Times

Champions League could be expanded to 48 teams under club proposals - Martyn Ziegler, Chief Sports Reporter
June 12 2019, 12:01am,

Uefa will be urged to expand the Champions League from 32 teams to 40 or 48 as an alternative to more radical reforms that would make the tournament a mainly closed competition.

A new proposal is to be submitted to Europe’s governing body by a group of clubs before a summit meeting on September 11, which has been called to discuss the changes.

The expansion plan will be put forward as a compromise solution to the vision of Andrea Agnelli, the Juventus and European Club Association (ECA) chairman.

That proposal, which is facing collapse after meeting widespread opposition across Europe, is for four groups of eight teams, with promotion and relegation and 24 out of the 32 clubs retaining their position for the next season regardless of their performance in domestic competition.

A 40-team Champions League would involve eight groups of five teams, with the top two still progressing to the knockout stage, and would be much less disruptive to domestic leagues and international matches.

It would mean clubs playing eight group matches instead of six under the existing format — and the big clubs want more European matches — but fewer than the 14 that would be required under the ECA proposal. An alternative expansion would be to 48 teams, with eight groups of six.

“This is a wide and open consultation process and all ideas will be considered,” Uefa said.

The European governing body is under pressure to agree to any changes, which would be brought in from 2024, before the end of the year — in time for discussions with Fifa about the international calendar.

A plan for the Champions League to be expanded to 48 teams was put forward by clubs including Celtic, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Anderlecht two years ago but was resisted by Uefa. There is, however, growing pressure from clubs in medium-sized European countries for change.

Celtic and Ajax are prime examples of big, historic clubs with large followings who find themselves without a guarantee of Champions League football despite being domestic champions.

Edwin van der Sar, the Ajax chief executive and former Manchester United goalkeeper who sits on the ECA’s board and has backed its proposal, has said that despite being Dutch league winners and Champions League semi-finalists, they have to go through two qualifying rounds to reach the group phase next season. “For us it is about access, not revenues,” he said.

Celtic’s Champions League qualifying campaign starts early next month and they will have to negotiate eight matches to secure a place in the 32.
Uefa is expected to commission expert analysis on any reform proposals to see what effect they could have on TV revenues.

The chief executive from one continental club, who is pushing for the expansion, told The Times that the existing Champions League format was “killing those countries outside of the big five leagues”.

Having 40 teams would allow the national champions of countries such as the Netherlands, Greece and Switzerland to have automatic slots in the group stage.

One issue is that ten match days would be needed for 40 teams, as with groups of five one club would not be involved in each round. Having 48 teams in eight groups of six would also require ten match days but all clubs would feature.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Anyone get the feeling that Agnelli has a real plan, and he has been planting other options - he knows will get refused so he will get what he really wants

This latest suggestion would probably require all domestic leagues to have no more than 18 teams, which funnily enough was the original plan for the Premier League - when Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal. Everton and Spurs put their initial plan together
Last edited by Chester Perry on Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Royboyclaret » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:34 am

Chester Perry wrote:Forbes have released their list of top earning athletes - Lionel Messi becomes only the 2nd footballer to top the list in it's existence (began in 1990) earning just shy of £99m Ronaldo 2nd and Neymar 3rd - as football takes the top places the 4th footballer on the list is Paul Pogba in 44th place - in total 12 footballers make the list

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/48602166" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

the full list

https://www.forbes.com/athletes/list/#tab:overall" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Significantly Messi is now approaching the £2m per week mark, a frightening figure when considering the overall future health of the game. I understand Eden Hazard has doubled his salary with his move to Real Madrid which for him means an entry into the top 30 list of athlete top earners.

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:50 am

A telling article from @MiguelDelaney as to where the real power lies in Europe and who can get who in the transfer Market

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/foo ... 54556.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:53 am

More on that La Liga app story from post #1374 - they are not happy

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/foo ... 54876.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:08 am

In post #1358 the official owner of Southampton, Gao Jisheng, stated that the Chinese State did not effectively own the club (the Premier League agree with him after investigating it) - Simon Chadwick still refuses to

https://twitter.com/Prof_Chadwick/statu ... 5528585216" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:20 am

Excellent article from OZY.com on Qatar's use of football to demonstrate is power and in the gulf and on a global stage


Soccer Diplomacy: Qatar's Big Weapon Against Arab Rivals - By Mat Nashed - JUNE 12 2019

Why you should care - The tiny Gulf nation is turning soccer into a successful vehicle to defeat its regional enemies on and off the pitch.

The United Arab Emirates could do nothing but watch the ball ricochet off the right post and into the back of the net. It was Jan. 29, and the goal put the UAE down 2-0 to Qatar, which would eventually score two more against the hosts to advance to the Asian Cup Final and win.

The Asian Cup wasn’t just any tournament: It was a proxy in the broader Gulf dispute. Since June 2017, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been blockading Qatar, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism and inching closer to Iran. The blockade prevented most Qataris from traveling to the UAE to see the games. Qatar defeated both its rivals in the tournament despite its team being pelted by sandals and bottles by hostile fans. It was among a series of 2019 wins that Qatar has netted in the soccer world, both on and off the pitch, turning the sport into a critical — and successful — diplomatic weapon for the country.

In April, Qatar’s candidate, Souad al-Mohannadi, was elected to the FIFA Council, enabling Qatar to make stronger connections in the international governing soccer body. What’s more, Saudi and Emirati candidates lost their council election bids. The Asian Cup had already cemented Qatar’s status as the best soccer country in the Gulf. But nothing is more precious than the 2022 World Cup, which Qatar considers central to its brand and legitimacy as a nation.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been pressuring FIFA to let them co-host the World Cup by expanding the sport’s apex tournament from 32 teams to 48. But those hopes of stealing a slice of the World Cup were dashed after FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced on May 22 that it wasn’t feasible to increase the number of teams. Doha, Qatar’s capital, has invested billions of dollars to brand itself as the de facto soccer destination in the Middle East, and it gets to keep the prize all to itself.

“The World Cup is part of Qatar’s nation-branding and nation-building efforts,” says Simon Chadwick, a professor of sports enterprises at Salford Business School in Manchester. “When you think of England and Brazil, you think of soccer. Qatar wants to be viewed in the same way.”
The battle for regional supremacy through soccer cuts both ways. In a bid to turn Qatar into a pariah state, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have tried to undermine Doha’s growing influence in soccer. The Emirates financed London-based consultancy Cornerstone Global Associates, which released a report to the BBC asserting that the World Cup was in danger of being stripped from Qatar — citing abuse of migrant workers and corruption.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also central to an international consortium that fronted $25 billion to FIFA, allowing the governing body to create two new international soccer tournaments, a revamped Club World Cup and a Global Nations League. But the deal also effectively sells those competitions to the consortium. That deal was widely viewed as an attempt to bribe FIFA into persuading Qatar to increase the number of teams in the next World Cup. Expanding the competition would have required Qatar to share some of the matches with neighboring states, because of the resources needed. But with Oman lacking the stadium infrastructure and Kuwait unlikely to want to antagonize Riyadh, the UAE and Saudi Arabia were the only possible options.

FIFA made clear that any expansion would need Doha’s consent, but Qatar wasn’t about to be pressured into sharing the tournament. And, as it turned out, neither was FIFA. “The decision wasn’t surprising,” says Keir Radnedge, an expert on soccer politics and chairman of the International Sports Press Association. “There was just no way on earth that Qatar would have ever shared anything with Saudi Arabia unless there was a coup.”
Publicly, Qatar’s regional rivals are trying to underplay Doha’s latest success in soccer diplomacy. “It was FIFA’s decision, not ours,” Terki Awad, a board member on the Saudi Arabian Football Federation tells me, adding that the kingdom isn’t disappointed by the move to keep the World Cup in Qatar. Doha released an official statement claiming it was always open to a 48-team tournament, but that time constraints and logistical concerns didn’t make the plan feasible for 2022.

But right after FIFA’s announcement, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain launched a joint bid to host the U-20 World Cup in 2021. Wael Jabir, co-founder of the Dubai-based soccer agency and magazine Ahdaaf, sees that as a sign of frustration. “Hosting major soccer tournaments is absolutely one of the biggest battles for influence in the Gulf,” he says.

As 2022 approaches, Saudi Arabia and its allies face a particularly tricky debate: whether or not to attend the World Cup in Qatar. Awad says that if Saudi Arabia qualifies, then the national team will play in Doha. Jabir expects the UAE to do the same, arguing that neither their population nor FIFA would be pleased with a boycott. But Radnedge stresses that the presence of Saudi and Emirati fans at the World Cup would grant Qatar the legitimacy it has long coveted through soccer. “Qatar would be smugly happy if Saudi and Emirati fans come to the games,” he says. If their teams participate, it would serve as an even stronger diplomatic victory for Qatar, by effectively undermining the economic blockade against Doha.

The Saudis or Emirates would also have to find a way to compete at Qatar’s level if they qualify. Jabir explains that Qatar’s national team is ahead of its Gulf neighbors thanks to its Aspire Academy, created in 2006. The academy recruits and develops young players from across the region, many of whom are the sons of foreign workers. Among the academy’s alumni is Sudan-born Almoez Ali, who won the Golden Boot at the Asian Cup after scoring nine goals.

Those goals included one in the match against the UAE. “Qatar’s match against the UAE was a lot more than a football game,” says Jabir. “It didn’t feel like they were going to play football; it felt like they were going to war.”

The UAE — a country also handicapped by its small population and limited pool of players — should create a rival academy to close the gap with Qatar’s national team, according to Jabir. But, he says, the Emirates aren’t entertaining such a project. “The UAE don’t want to be seen as copying or being inspired by Qatar’s success,” he says.

That stubbornness only benefits Qatar. And with the World Cup approaching, the tiny nation is holding most of the cards as it seeks to outshine its enemies through soccer diplomacy on the world stage.

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:26 am

And if anyone remains unconvinced about Qatar's use of sport to boost public impression of the state (soft power) - here is another OZY.com article from last year before Qatar won the Asian Football Confederation Championship

This Unathletic Nation Dominates World Sports … as a Host - By Lisa Rabasca Roepe • JUN 11 2018

Why you should care - Tiny Qatar is hardly a soccer hotbed, but that’s not stopping it from welcoming the World Cup in 2022.

Qatar may dream of being a sports powerhouse, but the country’s athletic abilities don’t quite match that soaring ambition. In fact, the 2.3-million strong country is the only host of an International Boxing Association Championship never to win a medal at the event. And despite sending two boxers to the 2016 Rio Olympics, both lost in the round of 32 by a score of 0-3 — and neither fighter was born in Qatar.

The country’s exceedingly shallow pool of sports talent extends beyond the ring. And yet the Persian Gulf state is finding another way to dominate the fields of play.

Qatar has been a regular stop on the athletic circuit since the Doha Grand Prix in 1997. Since then, it has welcomed the Asian Games, Commercial Bank Qatar Masters (golf), Qatar ExxonMobil Tennis Open and the Qatar Total Open, Tour of Qatar (cycling), Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar (motor sports), F1H2O UIM World Championship (powerboat racing) and the IAAF Diamond League (track and field), as well as equestrian events and horse racing.

Small spuds compared to what’s next: Qatar is preparing to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022 — the first time the most important sporting event besides the Olympic Games will be held in the Middle East.

Alas, Qatar’s soccer squad, formed in 1970, has never qualified for the quadrennial tournament. The team came close in 1998, but lost its bid at home to neighboring Saudi Arabia. It’s currently ranked just outside FIFA’s top 100. To be fair, Qatar won’t be the first non-qualifying country to host the World Cup. Japan had not yet qualified when it was named in 1996 as a co-host for the 2002 tournament; neither had South Korea, its event partner.

In fact, Qatar is best known for importing sports talent. Although it sent 39 athletes to Rio, 23 of them were born elsewhere and recruited to play for Qatar. Two of its top soccer players are naturalized Qataris — Karim Boudiaf, a Moroccan-Algerian, and Algerian-born Boualem Khoukhi. In fact, six of Qatar’s starting soccer players were not born in Qatar, according to BBC Sport.

And when Qatar hosted the 2015 Men’s World Handball Championships, it came under fire for having too many foreign players on its national team. The country has also welcomed runners from Sudan, boxers from Germany, a beach volleyball player from Brazil and a table tennis player from China, according to The Washington Post.

This practice is not going unnoticed. Qatar is “creating a fake team,” Christer Ahl, a high-level referee, told the London-based Sunday Telegraph. “They are putting together players with no apparent connection to the country and are kicked out if they don’t contribute to a medal or other success. They become some sort of all-star team.”

But finding young citizen-players to develop can be difficult. Families don’t always support their children’s pursuit of careers in sports and would prefer they enroll in college and get steady jobs. Universities in Qatar should lend greater support to aspiring local athletes by issuing those enrolled in school some credits for “national duty,” Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, head of Qatar’s Olympic Committee, told a local sports publication.

A country doesn’t need to excel in a sport to host an event, says James M. Dorsey, a Middle East and North Africa expert at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and author of a blog called the Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer. Qatar’s approach to sports is much more structural, he says: “They’re making sports part of their national identity and part of their soft power policies.” Just as Qatar is developing its airlines, arts, museums and real estate acquisitions, it is developing its reputation as a global sports host.

The Qatar government also sees sports as a way to promote tourism along with healthier lifestyles for its citizens, who suffer from some of the highest diabetes and obesity rates in the region. In addition, the athletic competitions convey a message of peace, security and goodwill to the rest of the world, Hazza’a Mubarak al-Hajri, assistant secretary-general for security affairs at the Gulf Cooperation Council, noted at a safety and security conference in Doha last year.

And, while few large sporting events leave a lasting positive legacy for the host nation, Dorsey says awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has effected change. While the country remains autocratic, Dorsey says the international attention has forced leaders to address issues raised by trade unions and human rights groups.

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:40 am

Simon Chadwick gives more background on Gulf history and why it impacts European and (it's potentially greater impact in) English football

https://twitter.com/Prof_Chadwick/statu ... 1708138496" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There was a comment in the last edition of Football Benchmark (see post #1376) that I am finding evermore resonant - IF the ECA fail to create a super league then the Premier League will become the Super League - you can see with all this positioning that this could easily become a reality - China, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Russia, America even Saudi Arabia (those Man Utd links never really go away) - there appears to be a lot of external preparation for such an eventuality - no room for us at that table I am afraid

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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:48 am

While FIFA and the French hosts have made such a hash of ticketing for the Women's World Cup

https://apnews.com/e90f43646ffd4785bd7d ... ce=Twitter" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

even with reduced capacities in some stadiums

https://twitter.com/tariqpanja/status/1 ... 5358804994" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

UEFA has been targeting Chinese fan's for the European Championships next summer

http://fcbusiness.co.uk/news/uefa-alipa ... -in-china/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Chester Perry
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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:26 pm

Not something I would wish on any club no matter how much I dislike them, yet insolvency is a growing prospect for many clubs at the moment especially in this region

This is a useful article for understanding what it could mean for clubs

https://www.r3.org.uk/index.cfm?page=19 ... fpage=1865" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

EDIT The 2015 amendment to the Football Creditors Rule is little known but a welcome move in the right direction
Last edited by Chester Perry on Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Chester Perry
Posts: 11400
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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:30 pm

Not been a happy week for the administrators at FIFA involved in the women's world cup ticket fiasco - now backtracking on the number of tickets sold

https://apnews.com/105598d94bf541ec91bc ... SocialFlow" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Chester Perry
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Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:00 pm

Chelsea have taken a lot of time to make their appeal to CAS over the FIFA judgement - the result, the case will not be heard until after the transfer window closes - add that to the decision not to ask for a suspension of the transfer ban )see post #1371) and Chelsea will not bale to sign anyone this summer.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sport ... ummer.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

which will make their search for a new manager even more difficult as they will have no opportunity to bring in new players, with 2 of their most precocious young talents Hudson-Odoi and Reece James out with lengthy injuries. As this Telegraph article suggests

Chelsea may offer Frank Lampard head coach job as alternative options are unavailable or out of reach - Matt Law, Football News Correspondent
12 June 2019 • 5:08pm

Chelsea may be faced with little option but to offer Frank Lampard an earlier than anticipated return to the club as head coach.

Maurizio Sarri’s return to Italy with Juventus will be confirmed once compensation is finally agreed, leaving Chelsea to hunt for his successor.

Lampard has always been viewed as a Chelsea manager in waiting, but the club would have ideally approached him after more than one year in charge of Derby County in the Championship.

Chelsea’s hand may be forced, however, as a number of Lampard’s rivals for the post this time round could prove to be out of reach.

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag as admirers inside Stamford Bridge, but Dutch sources expect him to stay in Amsterdam after taking the club to the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Bayern Munich are also thought to be impressed by Ten Hag, as the Germans consider whether or not to make their own managerial change.

Max Allegri is out of work after leaving Juventus. There would be doubts about appointing a third successive Italian at Chelsea and there are claims he wants to take time out to prepare for his next job.

England manager Gareth Southgate has stated he is confident that his assistant Steve Holland will not go anywhere before next summer’s European Championships, while Watford are confident of keeping hold of Javi Gracia.

Gracia signed a new Watford contract in November and it is understood that the Hornets would be due significant compensation if the 49-year-old left this summer.

That means that unless Chelsea could tempt Ten Hag to change his mind, or make a serious play for Allegri, the most realistic competition to Lampard could be Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Nuno Espirito Santo or out-of-work Laurent Blanc.

Having sold Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, Chelsea are also facing the prospect of a two-window transfer ban that is currently due to start this summer.

Despite concerns over his level of experience, the appointment of Lampard would go down extremely well with a large number of Chelsea fans.
It would also be welcomed by the club’s bright young stars, who have been excitedly messaging each other and chatting about the prospect of Lampard taking over.

With the prospect of a transfer ban hanging over them, Chelsea may have to lean heavily on some of their Academy graduates next season and Lampard is viewed as the perfect man among the young players to oversee that process.

He took midfielder Mason Mount and defender Fikayo Tomori with him to Derby and the pair shined during their season-long loan deals.

Chester Perry
Posts: 11400
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:06 am
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Has Liked: 432 times

Re: Football's Magic Money Tree

Post by Chester Perry » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:18 pm

Offthepitch.com are running a story (behind a paywall unfortunately) about FIFA seeking NGO status in Switzerland to reduce tax and threatening a move to France if they don't get it

https://offthepitch.com/a/fifa-confirms ... switch-now" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

- nice people only last week they were cheering record profits and cash position of over $2.5bn

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