Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'd swear I've seen this somewhere before

Government Exhibit "D" - Dianne Wilkerson Trial
When I woke up this morning I was treated to a story that created waves on two fronts for me.

From the WSJ (paper version) I looked at the page 1 teased story (continued on A10), reporting that FIFA is investigating (2) executive committee members accused of taking bribes in exchange for their upcoming vote to determine who would be hosting the 2018 World Cup.

Now that was enough to wake me up in the early morning and poke around to see what was going on. Further however was the last paragraph of the print article, that was not online, that has Sunil Gulati essentially shouting from the rooftops that the US was not involved in any aspect of the reporting that resulted in the story. Yet in other parts of the WSJ story, we have this:
Video on the Sunday Times website allegedly shows Mr. Amadu telling an undercover reporter that he wanted to build four artificial soccer fields at a cost of $200,000 each and that the money could be paid to him "directly." When the reporter asked whether the payment would help Mr. Amadu make his decision in favor of the U.S. bid in some way, he responded: "Obviously it will have an effect. Of course it will have an effect. It will have an effect. Because certainly if if you are to invest in that, that means you also want the vote."
I am not sure how to square the comments from Mr. Amadu, and Mr. Gulati as it would seem that Mr. Amadu was approached by someone who was interested in the US receiving his vote for $800K. I would find it hard to believe that just anyone representing the US could make such an offer. Access to members of the FIFA executive committee would appear to be somewhat limited.

Now a disclaimer. I am not accusing anyone of any wrong doing, just pointing out the facts that:
  1. FIFA has launched an investigation into the bribery of (2) executive committee members regarding their vote for the hosting of the World Cup.
  2. A FIFA executive committee member (Mr. Amadu) has been spotted on video by The Sunday Times of London suggesting that a direct payment of $800K would "have an effect" on the vote for the US bid. 
  3. U.S. Soccer has made a decision to pull out of the bidding for the 2018 World Cup and focus on the 2022 World Cup.
  4. U.S. Soccer president, Sunil Gulati has adamantly denied any involvement in any bribery of FIFA officials, which would appear to be appropriate as Times reporters set up the sting.
  5. All of this happened on or very close to 15-OCT-2010.
I welcome the readers to draw their own conclusion with these and the further facts that are certain to emerge from this developing story.

As I stated in the title, I have seen something like this before as it reminded me of the video that was filmed by the FBI during the collection of evidence against the Massachusetts politician Dianne Wilkerson. She ultimately plead guilty to several counts of attempted extortion and is due to be sentenced in the next few weeks.

To me this situation, sans the conviction, is strikingly similar as it demonstrates the willingness of people to use their position of power for their personal interests (and getting caught on video taking a bribe). FIFA, like Massachusetts politics has a history of corruption associated with it, which is not a surprise as there is a tremendous amount at stake. I would opine much more for the hosting of a World Cup than the grant of a liquor license, but the point remains.

One other thing to consider is those who choose to approach one of these figures who are able to influence a license grant or election. Little has been reported about those who sought out Ms. Wilkerson's grant of a license, and little has yet to be reported about those who approached the FIFA executive committee members, other than one was doing so for the sake of the US.

There is a part of me who can appreciate those efforts, however maybe not for the same reasons as those seeking to bribe the officials, as a World Cup here in the US would certainly bolster THE game here and give the US a much needed shot in the arm of the international game. I do personally believe however that the Women's World Cup would be a better choice for the US as it is that game that seems to be suffering the most on our shores. In either event, while I appreciate the result should it occur, I can not condone the method. Cheating is cheating. This is not a case of taking advantage of a "favorable business environment."

We shall see how this one evolves, as this may be too big for even FIFA to ignore, and may even halt the vote of the venue for the 2018 World Cup until this gets sorted out.

Stay tuned!

UPDATE1 19-OCT 09:52 EDT:
See the comment below from cy stating that the folks who made the bribe were UK reporters. This was not reported in the WSJ, but I am assuming was in the Times.

This would clearly take US Soccer off the hook, but continues to make me wonder if anyone posing as a delegate (why did these reporters choose the US?) could approach an official and do this ...

Thanks cy for the update.


  1. They were UK reporters pretending to be US business interests.

    2nd paragraph.

    "Reporters for the Sunday Times of London posed as lobbyists for the U.S. bid and allegedly caught Amos Adamu, a Nigerian member of FIFA's 24-member executive committee, requesting some $800,000 of support for a project in exchange for his vote."

  2. Thanks cy ... did not see that in the WSJ. See the update in the main post above.