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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French Footballers’ Mutiny

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

They’re gone now, Les Bleus, the French national football team. Today they arrived back in Paris, and star attacker Thierry Henry even headed straight to L’Elysée Palace to give his own explanation to President Nicolas Sarkozy of what went on down there in South Africa that produced such a shambles.

Time now for the tournament to move on, which it has done already with, among other things, England’s narrow 1-0 victory over Slovenia and Landon Donovan’s last-minute goal for Team USA which sent them on to the sudden-death Round of 16 and sent the Slovenians packing for home. For any of those with a more morbid outlook, though – those who tend to linger long while passing the scene of a horrific accident by the side of the road, say – Grégory Schneider of the French paper Libération has some behind-the-scenes details of what happened with the French, including the precise wording of Nicolas Anelka’s to-his-face characterization of his coach during half-time of the France-Mexico game (Get ready: Va te faire enculer, sale fils de pute! It’s pretty bad.) that got him sent home and was the immediate cause of all the trouble. (more…)

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Reckoning Coming for Iranian Football Team

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

The Iranian national football (i.e. soccer) team caused some comment during their World Cup qualification game against South Korea last Wednesday when a couple of them wore green wristbands, apparently as a gesture of support to the opposition movement behind Mir Hussein Mousavi. They wore them at least during the first half of the match, which ended in a 1-1 tie that took Iran out of World Cup qualification; the wristbands were gone as the players emerged on the field for the second half.

Now there is a report in the Dutch newspaper Trouw that some form of punishment is headed the team’s way. No less than the Iranian parliament today demanded an explanation from the Iranian football association and threatened the team with sanctions of some kind.

On the other hand, this news report, while somewhat short, nonetheless manages to mention twice that the Iranians were playing against Japan, when it was really the South Korean team. Should we therefore believe anything else it says? I recommend “Yes,” as Trouw is really usually among the better of the Dutch dailies. For what it’s worth, this piece is sourced to the Dutch national news agency ANP, anyway.

UPDATE: Yes, you better believe: via Andrew Sullivan’s weblog, word comes from the Guardian that four of the six players who dared to wear the green wristbands have been “retired” from football.

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