Adidas and Sports Corruption

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Even as the every-fourth-year World Cup football spectacular is set to kick off
in Brazil later this week, there has been a wave of increasing concern about the event’s scheduled host for 2022, the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar. This has largely been prompted by the eminent British newspaper The Sunday Times, which has somehow gotten its hands on a treasure-trove of internal e-mails and documents relating to what appears to be the concerted effort spearheaded by the Qatari businessman (and former FIFA vice-president) Mohamed Bin Hammam to buy Qatar the 2022 World Cup outright via the judicious parcelling-out of up to $5 million.

Taking a page from the work of Edward Snowden and Glen Greenwald with the NSA documents, The Sunday Times is drawing out its revelations over a period of weeks, rather than dumping all of what it has learned on the public at once. Nonetheless, even what is has revealed so far has prompted some notable reactions. One of the latest was that of one of FIFA’s main World Cup sponsors, SONY, expressing its concern over the Qatar revelations. Then SONY was recently followed in that by the famous German sportswear firm Adidas. (That last link is to a Sunday Times piece – remarkable since usually they are inaccessible behind a paywall.)

But Adidas itself knows quite a bit about corruption in sports – as is apparent from the German business newspaper Handelsblatt with an article it republished from Die Zeit a little less than two weeks ago:

Adidas
That tweet reads “Adidas: The inventor of modern sports corruption,” with a question mark. But it is not really a question; in the article itself that title appears without any question-mark, and writer Oliver Fritsch’s purpose within the seven pages over which the piece is divided is to show how that is the case. As he writes:

“For decades the company has influenced sports-politics decisions such as marketing contracts, tournament expenses and personnel. The company’s methods are controversial. And that just not as of yesterday.”

You can tell that Adidas is a big player at least in the German sporting goods market from the fact that it is the official supplier to both the German National Football Association (and therefore to the national team, which first goes into action in Brazil against Portugal next Monday) and to German football power-house Bayern München. And you can similarly tell that Horst Dassler, son of the company’s founder Adi Dassler, was some kind of evil genius from the fact that he gets his very own chapter in the exposé-book recently written by Thomas Kistner, Fifa Mafia (unfortunately available only in German). (more…)

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Reluctant Winter Olympians (2018)

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Yes, as if you don’t have enough to worry about these days . . . but the decision-process is now starting to get in gear for who will get to host the 2018 Winter Olympics! We’re reminded of this by Evi Simeoni with her article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, brought out on the occasion of the recent deadline for submission of official “bid-books” from candidate cities to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. Understandably, Ms. Simeoni is particularly interested in Munich’s bid for the honor, which was delivered to Lausanne in person (because that’s simply what you do) earlier this week along with the documents of competitors Annecy (France) and Pyeongchang (South Korea). What follows from this point is inspections by the IOC’s Evaluation Committee to each site (to happen 1-3 March for the Bavarians), followed by formal presentations at the Lausanne headquarters on 18-19 May and the announcement of the decision at an IOC meeting in Durban, South Africa, on 6 July. (more…)

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FIFA Loses the American Market

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Remember the Hand of Henry? You do if you’re Irish. That refers to the blatant handballs committed by star Barcelona striker Thierry Henry, playing last month on the French national team in a World Cup playoff game, that enabled the winning goal to be scored and sent the French to South Africa instead of the Republic of Ireland. These fouls were evident enough to the millions watching the match on TV, but not to the crew of officials actually in charge of the game, and this result which robbed the Irish of their World Cup 2010 participation was allowed to stand.

Now down in the Southern Hemisphere, the French team isn’t doing very well and will probably fly home after only the three games of the tournament’s first round, but that is not the point. The point is rather the continued refusal by FIFA officials (i.e. from the international football organization in charge of the World Cup) to install any sort of modern technology (e.g. televised replay review) to ensure that officiating travesties like what happened to the Irish can never happen again. This only ensures, of course, that such a thing will happen again, at least one more time, and this during that organization’s signature event that draws the sustained attention of billions of spectators from all over the world – a substantial portion of whom tune in to cheer on their own nation’s team.

Sure enough, another such travesty has come along on cue, namely the denial yesterday to the United States team of a perfectly-valid third goal which would have capped a tremendous rally from a 2-0 deficit by half-time with a glorious win. Instead, the US team earned a 2-2 draw, which gave them a mere one point towards advancing further in the tournament rather than the full three to which the victory they deserved would have entitled them. (more…)

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