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Archive for the ‘Soccer’ Category

FIFA sponsors express concern over troubles within organization

Posted by ZA on May 31, 2011

You can add sponsors to the growing list of people who have expressed concerned over the goings on at FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.  SportBusiness reports that Adidas and Coca-Cola have both publicly responded to questions about corruption allegations within FIFA.  The sponsors say the reports are “distressing” and “neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners”.  What does this mean for FIFA?  Nothing yet, but it’s never a good sign when the people helping fund your organization are starting to lob concern grenades through the press.  I doubt that Adidas or Coca-Cola cancels their association with FIFA over these allegations, but I’m sure I would have said similar about Gatorade and Tiger Woods a couple of years ago.  Sponsors are not going pay to have their brands dragged through the mud, so FIFA needs to get a handle on this situation before they start losing money.

What is the solution for FIFA?  They clearly need to offer more transparency into their process.  They need to engage an outside organization to help them root out corruption within their ranks, as many that bribery and pay for votes is common place even at their highest organization levels.  FIFA probably needs to start over with new leadership because I’m not sure the current administration can be seen as credible in cleaning up FIFA.  Sepp Blatter is about to get re-elected to a final four year term.  He’s had some success in leading the organization, but he’s not been able to put to rest the corruption allegations.  Some of which are coming from the British Parliament.  I think major changes within FIFA are the only way to truly start to put these allegations in the past.  Will Mr. Blatter step down?  Not likely.  Will FIFA become more transparent?  I’m not expecting changes.  Will FIFA continue to be mired in controversy?  Most likely.  Will sponsors pull out?  That remains to be seen, but the first cracks in the foundation have clearly appeared with those statements by Adidas and Coca-Cola.

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FIFA commits $28 million to fight soccer match fixing

Posted by ZA on May 10, 2011

FIFA is going to provide almost $30 million dollars to Interpol to setup an anti-corruption unit to oversee soccer.  This decision comes after years of match fixing accusations within soccer.  Organize crime and the increase in online betting has upped the amount of corruption that occurs within the world’s #1 sport.

In my opinion this is a smart, albeit long overdue, move for FIFA to make.  There is no way they can police their own sport, as the top rungs of their organization have long been accused of corruption.  Hiring an independent police agency to watch their back is going to have better results than if they decided to handle it internally.  The next step is to allow Interpol access to FIFA at the highest levels.  They need to root out corruption starting at the top.  Although I imagine that’ll never happen as this money seems focused on the growing match fixing issues within soccer.

Read the full article here at SportBusiness.

Posted in Soccer | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Who will oversee the FIFA anti-corruption committee?

Posted by ZA on January 4, 2011

The recent round of voting by FIFA to select the locations of the 2018 and 2022 once again brought new improper behavior by FIFA voting members, as well as, plenty of fresh new accusations that FIFA is corrupt.  How has FIFA responded?  FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced that FIFA will setup an anti-corruption committee to ensure more “transparency” for how FIFA operates.  Blatter claimed this move would “strengthen our credibility”.

My question is who is going to oversee the FIFA anti-corruption committee?

By FIFA choosing to self insure their own legitimacy, they are actually just maintaining the status quo.  The same bribery that has routinely occurred could now just extend to the FIFA committee.  The members of the voting committee will know members of the anti-corruption committee, so how hard will it be for them to sway their colleagues when they need a favor.  In reality all FIFA has done has involved more FIFA members in the selection process, which will provide more potential options for the next FIFA scandal.

Whereas if FIFA was willing to go outside their organization to develop a watchdog group, then they would have a better system of checks and balances.  But FIFA is not going to do that because it could perhaps shed too much light on how they operate.  And while I agree that no private company has to agree to 3rd party oversight, I think that FIFA’s role in sports is global and therefore needs someone to keep them in-line.

[Addition: Further illustrating my point, a top member of the current FIFA ethics committee resigned claiming that the current administration has no interest in cleaning up the corruption within FIFA.  How does FIFA spin this one? He’s one of their own saying they are corrupt.]

Posted in Soccer | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Did media accusations kill England’s World Cup host bid?

Posted by ZA on November 9, 2010

The announcement for which country (or countries) will host the 2018 World Cup is only a few weeks away.  But even as it approaches the decision of who FIFA will select is way up in the air.  I have predicted that England will be selected as host country for the 2018 World Cup.  I think that England would be the most suitable host for the biggest soccer tournament in the world, since they are one of the most soccer mad countries in the world.  I think most FIFA members have agreed with me on England until recently.

Now reports are coming out saying that England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup is “blown…completely”.  What is the cause of this potentially epic downfall for England’s World Cup bid?  It appears to be the English media is the culprit.  The UK press has been reporting on corruption within FIFA for over a month now, which apparently has incensed FIFA voting members to the point they are no longer considering England’s bid.

Wow, if England’s bid is really trashed then FIFA has a lot of explaining to do.  Of course we’ll never know the true story because it is easy for FIFA members to vote for Spain/Portugal or Russia instead of England.  But the truth is their votes for other bids are just votes against England, the same way the IOC awarding the 2016 Olympics to Rio was more a vote against the Chicago bid and the USA.  Politics play a part in these organizations, so they vote against who they do not like just as much as they vote for who they think will be the best host.

The press has an obligation to report the facts they find.  The UK media has a responsibility to report wrongdoing they uncovered within FIFA.  To penalize the English bid based on the work of the UK press is asinine and completely unfair.  Of course I’m not surprised because it is the same people voting who are accused of the corruption.  But make no mistake about it, if England is getting jobbed, it is by FIFA on this vote.

Update: The CEO of England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup is now calling the BBC “unpatriotic” for airing a piece on the FIFA vote scandal three days prior to the WC host selection.  Once again I think the anger here is misplaced.  The media’s job is to cover the story, so criticizing them for doing their job is ridiculous.  Sure the BBC could have aired this story at a different time, but they are publicizing it close to the FIFA vote to ensure maximum exposure.  That helps the media do their other job, which is to sell advertising.

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England to host 2018 World Cup & USA to host in 2022

Posted by ZA on September 29, 2010

News that England will be withdrawing their bid for the 2022 World Cup to focus exclusively on the 2018 World Cup tells me that England is confident they will host the 2018 World Cup.  I’ll go one step further and say that England is a shoe in to host the 2018 World Cup.  I think Russia is the serious competition since Sepp Blatter made some positive remarks about their bid last year.  But I think that England will be the pick for host country from FIFA.

Russia needs to focus their attention on the Sochi Winter Games in 2014, making that a success will be a big enough task for them.  The Olympics and World Cup require a lot of support from corporate dollars and Russia doesn’t have the same options that the United Kingdom does.  Plus, England hosts the Premier League so the venues and necessary infrastructure are already in place.  And England has not hosted a World Cup since 1966.  One of the most soccer mad countries on the planet, hasn’t had the biggest soccer event on their home soil in 50 years.  That changes soon, England will host the 2018 World Cup.

That opens the door for the United States to be selected to host the 2022 World Cup.  The US is competing for the ’22 bid with a host of nations (Australia, South Korea, Japan and Qatar) that would do a great job and be a great story.  But FIFA just did the great host nation story with the event in South Africa, which was a great event but not a big money maker.  Corporate sponsors are more abundant in the USA, so they’ll get the nod after England.

Posted in Soccer | 1 Comment »

My advice to FIFA: Just do it!

Posted by ZA on August 11, 2010

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said they will look at whether to add goalline technology (i.e.- cameras) at the October board meeting.  Blatter’s additional comments on the matter indicate that he is not currently in-favor because no “accurate and simple” system has been presented to FIFA.

I think it would be a huge mistake for FIFA to pass on the opportunity to adopt better technology.  At the very least they should put together a commission to find the “accurate and simple” system for deciding whether a goal is scored or not.  There are plenty of options they can pursue, so now it just comes down to whether FIFA wants to evolve the game of soccer.

In this day and age there is no reason for a goal to be disallowed because the referee misses it.  Soccer is often a low scoring affair, so every goal matters.  Frank Lampard scored a key goal for England in the World Cup that was not allowed.  The replay showed that the ball was clearly in the goal.  If that goal was correctly counted, the outcome of that game (and possibly the entire World Cup) might have been different.

Referees are human, so they are going to make errors.  Why not have technology in-place to make sure the most critical mistakes (i.e.- a goal scored) are avoided.  Hockey has similar technology and baseball added replay to judge home runs.  Now it is time for soccer to evolve and add the same type of technology.

The argument that adding goal technology would be too expensive to carry out globally is weak.  No one says this type of technology has to exist at every soccer field on the planet, it just needs to be there at the highest levels.  There is no reason a World Cup game, with so much riding on it, should be decided by human error.  So bring on the cameras and lets improve a century old game.

This goal by England in the 2010 World Cup should have counted.

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Cool reactions to game winning goal by Landon Donovan

Posted by ZA on June 24, 2010

U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A…

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FIFA going overboard in prosecution of ambush marketer

Posted by ZA on June 18, 2010

At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa FIFA is attempting to send a message to businesses around the world – “Don’t mess with our event or our sponsors”.  It is not surprising that FIFA is working so hard to control their event, what is surprising is the extend they are willing to go to.

In this case, FIFA is reported to be seeking criminal charges against two ladies who were involved in Bavaria beers attempted ambush marketing at the Holland versus Denmark game.  The women were the alleged organizers of 36 young ladies who showed up at the match wearing orange mini-dresses.  The eye-catching orange dresses were the same color as Bavaria beer, although they did not have any recognizable marks from the Dutch beer company.  Two of the women in the group have been arrested and scheduled to appear in South African court.  They are charged with violating the new (for 2010 World Cup) “contravening the South African Merchandise Marks Act”, which was passed by the government on behalf of FIFA.  In addition, FIFA is said to be filing civil charges against Bavaria.

I get it, FIFA wants to scare off other potential ambush marketers by taking an aggressive stance now.  But FIFA appears to be overzealous in their attack on these two young ladies from Holland.  If they are convicted to serve time in a South African jail, then FIFA and the sponsor they are protecting (Budweiser) are both going to look like huge bullies.  I doubt FIFA cares if they are labeled a bully, but I’m sure Bud cares because they don’t want their multi-million dollar sponsorship to potentially turn consumers against them.  So far Budweiser has remained mum on this matter, but at this point I would expect someone at A-B to give FIFA a call and ask them to lighten up on this situation.

While I’m sure Budweiser is not pleased that Bavaria continues to pull off ambush marketing stunts at events Bud sponsors, sending two young women to jail is going to look over-the-top and reflect poorly on Budweiser.  I know my opinion of Bud would be tarnished if they allow FIFA to push this criminal prosecution into jail time for the women involved.  I have no issue with FIFA bringing a civil suit against Bavaria, but I think that should be the extent of it.  Hopefully cooler heads prevail and the criminal matter is dismissed.

Update: The two Dutch women who faced prosecution in this matter had all charges dropped against them.  Read full story here.

Posted in Soccer | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Nike soccer spot is captivating

Posted by ZA on May 21, 2010

Nike recently debuted their new soccer spot which features a few of their top football stars from around the globe (Rooney, Ribery, C. Ronaldo).  It’s a great commercial that really makes you think about the influence that sports has on our lives.  Great work by Nike.

Write the Future – by Nike

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South Africa turns over keys to FIFA for 2010 World Cup

Posted by ZA on May 17, 2010

A good article from Ad Age that covers the plans major sponsors have to promote their brands during the upcoming World Cup in South Africa.  It also talks about FIFA’s efforts to thwart ambush marketing campaigns from detracting from the 13 official World Cup sponsors.  FIFA claims there were over 3,000 “rights violations” during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, so they are already being proactive to try to limit them at the 2010 World Cup.  FIFA has created new rules to proactively prevent ambush marketing during World Cup matches.  And FIFA’s lawyers have proactively started sending warning letters to brands to deter them from planning marketing events around the World Cup.  One letter to South African airline, Kulula, prompted this humorous response from the airline on twitter:

Oh dear, letter from FIFA’s lawyers says we broke their trademark of the use of ‘South Africa’ and think our non-WC ad was about soccer…Even the use of our national flag was an issue.  It’s absolutely outrageous.  We’ve signed over our country, its symbols and our economy to one [FIFA President] Sepp Blatter. Nasty.

Although Kulula joked about it, the truth is they are not far from the truth.  When your country lands one of these major events (World Cup or Olympics) they are going to be giving away some of their “rights” to FIFA or the IOC until the event is over.  There were murmurs leading up the 2008 Beijing Olympics about the IOC counseling China on human rights issues, presumably to keep those abuses from reflecting negatively on IOC or the Olympic Games.  That comes with the territory for any country granted one of these events; you are willingly taking on a partner who is going to have control on certain issues.  So the people, and businesses, of South Africa better get used to that because they are going to be under FIFA control under July 12 – the day after the World Cup final is played.

Posted in Soccer, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »