When Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup, everyone pretty much agreed that they had bought it illicitly. Qatar is utterly unsuitable for a massive outdoor sports tournament, and utter corruption is more or less how FIFA rolls. As The Telegraph discovered… yep:
Jack Warner, the former vice-president of Fifa, appears to have been personally paid $1.2 million (£720,000) from a company controlled by a former Qatari football official shortly after the decision to award the country the tournament.
Deadspin‘s analysis notes Warner’s history of suspicious circumstances:
Warner, the former president of CONCACAF, is no stranger to controversy. In 2011, the Trinidadian was accused of demanding cash and gifts from England’s FA in exchange for his 2018 World Cup vote. Later that year, Warner was caught on tape urging Caribbean Football Union members to accept envelopes full of money to back Mohamed Bin Hammam’s bid for FIFA president.
Bin Hammam was banned for life; Warner stepped down, putting him beyond the reach of any FIFA punishment. But the FBI is said to be investigating the Caribbean-based fraud (payments for which, according to the Telegraph, were routed through American banks). “It’s shaping up to be a major case,” one U.S. official told Reuters.
The FBI is investigating, while the relevant parties in the United States are surely quietly sending emails with subjects like “you know, our reliable, well-maintained, fully-functional infrastructure is available in 2022…”
In theory, this year’s campaign should be the most interesting season of American soccer offered up since the heyday of the New York Cosmos. In reality, MLS is still a second-tier product, full of dull play and even less compelling players, with a top-down league ownership structure that neuters real competition and an obnoxious, proselytizing hardcore fanbase. All of this makes the idea of following the league just as offensive as it’s always been.
Billy Haisley’s harsh-but-fair summary of the state of Major League Soccer is a giant bummer. I guess the upside is there’s a lot of room for improvement here.
A touching story about honoring a Canadian snowboarder who died in training a couple of years ago:
Before competition started, Paynter trekked up to the course by himself. There are metal detectors everywhere here. How did he get the cylinder through security?
“I’m sneaky,” Paynter said.
Barry Petchesky of Deadspin aggregates/opines:
Oregon State pitcher Ben Wetzler has been suspended since the start of college baseball season.The NCAA is investigating whether he retained the services of an agent to negotiate with the Phillies, who drafted him in the fifth round in 2013 but were unable to sign him. Now it seems the Phillies have snitched on him, so that if he won’t play for them, he can’t play his senior year of college either.
Aaron Fitt of Baseball America is all over this story (the Phillies also reportedly tattled on sixth-round pick Jason Monda, who was cleared by the NCAA last week), and it’s despicable on multiple levels.
If this were Twitter I’d say #everythingisterrible but seeing as it’s a blog, I’ll instead say: college athletes are completely screwed and nobody is looking out for them, and it’s pathetic. And as a secondary point: all Philadelphia sports teams are disdainful.
The New York Times:
Now Mr. Sam enters an uncharted area of the sports landscape. He is making his public declaration before he is drafted, to the potential detriment to his professional career. And he is doing so as he prepares to enter a league with an overtly macho culture, where controversies over homophobia have attracted recent attention.
From Outsports’s story:
Sam had in fact told his team at the University of Missouri that he was gay last summer. It was prompted by a simple team-building exercise with a question from a coach: “Tell us something we don’t know about you.” Some of the team had already known. Some were shocked by the news. All of them embraced him. None of them told the media.
Sam played the entire 2013 season, leading the SEC in sacks and leading his team to a win in the Cotton Bowl, as a gay man out to his team and coaching staff.
This is a big deal. I’ll be rooting for him.
Not easy to steal the spotlight from Bill Walton but this young Cal student does so with aplomb.