Tag Archives: Zurich

Sepp Blatter could make extraordinary move to stay on as FIFA president

Sepp Blatter stands down as FIFA President

Sepp Blatter may seek to stay on as the president of FIFA, a Swiss newspaper reported on Sunday, less than two weeks after Blatter said he would step down over a major corruption scandal at the organisation.

However, Domenico Scala, the official overseeing the process of choosing a new president, said that Blatter’s departure was an ‘indispensable’ part of planned reforms to soccer’s governing body.

Blatter is under pressure to step down for good as U.S. and Swiss authorities widened their investigations into bribery and corruption at the sport’s global governing body. EU lawmakers are among those calling for his immediate departure.

Blatter said he would step down in a speech made on June 2 but has not ruled out remaining in office

But according to the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper, Blatter had received messages of support from African and Asian football associations, asking him to rethink his decision to step down.

Blatter was honoured by the support and had not ruled out remaining in office, the newspaper said, citing an anonymous source close to him.

Blatter said on June 2 he would step down as FIFA president in the wake of the corruption investigation, having led soccer’s world governing body since 1998, although he would stay on until a successor was elected.

FIFA, in an emailed statement, referred Reuters to the speech Blatter made on June 2 and said they had ‘no further comment to make’.

In his speech, Blatter said: ‘I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective Congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as FIFA President until that election.’

The 79-year-old (left) has received close support from various African and Asian football federations

He also added: ‘Since I shall not be a candidate, and am therefore now free from the constraints that elections inevitably impose, I shall be able to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts.’

But Scala, head of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, said in a statement that Blatter needed to stick by his pledge that he would not stand again.

‘For me, the reforms are the central topic,’ he said, without referring to the interview directly.

‘That is why I think it is clearly indispensable to follow through with the initiated process of president’s change as has been announced. ‘

Blatter has changed his mind in the past. When he began his fourth mandate in 2011, he said it would be his last, but he later backed down, stood again and was re-elected in May.

FIFA is expected to pick his replacement at an extraordinary congress in Zurich between December and February. . The exact date will be decided by an executive committee meeting on July 20.

Blatter’s renewed interest in the job was also a reason for the departure of Walter de Gregorio as FIFA’s director of communications, since he had argued for a completely new start and advised Blatter to go, the Swiss newspaper said.

De Gregorio declined to comment to the newspaper.

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A dark day for Fifa after claims of arms deals for World Cup votes

The shockwaves from the corruption scandal that brought down Sepp Blatter continue to reverberate, with claims in Germany that the 2006 World Cup vote was influenced by a shipment of rocket-propelled grenades and allegations in Egypt that a Fifa executive solicited bribes during the 2010 bidding race.

As seven Fifa officials continued to fight extradition to the US over claims they were involved in a “World Cup of fraud”, Blatter’s right-hand man Jérôme Valcke remained at the centre of speculation over what he knew about a $10m payment to the disgraced former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner.

And pressure on the Football Association of Ireland also grew amid the fallout from its admission that it agreed a secret €5m (£3.6m) payment after threatening legal action in the wake of Thierry Henry’s handball that led to the goal that ended their chances of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

The FAI chief executive, John Delaney, said the payment was agreed after he confronted Blatter about Henry’s role in Ireland’s World Cup play-off defeat. Fifa has claimed the payment was a loan towards the construction of a stadium that was later written off.

The Irish taoiseach, Enda Kenny, called on Delaney to provide more detail about the situation, after Delaney admitted receiving the payment in a radio interview on Thursday.

“This is quite extraordinary,” said Kenny.

“But I would say that any questions that need to be answered here in the interests of transparency and accountability … John Delaney should answer and will answer all of those questions, I’m quite sure.”

As it emerged that the Ireland players had no knowledge of the payment, amid calls for Delaney to explain why it was not revealed at the time, Kenny said he believed the FAI chief executive’s position remained “tenable”.

The FAI last night released a detailed statement and bank documents to prove it had acted properly, also arguing it had suffered reputational damage after Blatter made light of an earlier meeting at a press conference.

Elsewhere, the downfall of Blatter has sparked an avalanche of claims about major decisions taken by Fifa in recent years. The German newspaper

Die Zeit reported on Friday that the then chancellor Gerhard Shröder supplied arms to Saudi Arabia in return for support in Germany’s World Cup bid, in which it defeated South Africa 12-11 in the final round in controversial circumstances.

The claims alleged that the government lifted arms restrictions days before the vote in order to make the shipment and help swing Saudi Arabia’s vote to Germany.

The claims mean that the votes for the 1998, 2006, 2010, 2018 and 2022 tournaments are now under scrutiny in some way. Brazilian authorities and the FBI are also looking into the contracts signed in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup.

FBI sources have confirmed that it is investigating claims relating to all of those tournaments except 2006 and Egypt, one of the bidders for 2010, has now alleged that Warner – who has vigorously denied wrongdoing but was charged in the US indictment – asked for a $7m bribe.

“I did not imagine that Fifa was so corrupt,” the former Egypt sports minister Aley Eddine Helal told ONTV in Cairo. “Jack Warner demanded $7m before the voting. Egypt’s FA president El-Dahshori Harb met with the Fifa official in the United Arab Emirates and informed me that he wanted a $7m bribe.”Helal said he and other officials on the 2010 bid committee have been silent for the 11 years since losing because they did not have any proof to back “the suspicions we have always had about the disgraceful way we lost”.

Egypt failed to poll a single vote and the tournament was awarded to South Africa, which was desperate to clinch the right to host the World Cup after losing out so narrowly to Germany for 2006. New evidence has also emerged that appears to confirm that Danny Jordaan, the leader of the 2010 World Cup bid and organising committee, and the Fifa secretary general, Valcke, knew about a disputed $10m payment to Warner’s Concacaf confederation.

In a statement this week, Fifa insisted that neither Blatter nor Valcke initiated the payment but a letter quickly emerged that showed the Fifa general secretary was aware of the detail in 2008. A new leaked letter from Jordaan, dated December 2007, appears to be the first time he outlines the scheme to Valcke.

He suggests that the $10m, which the US alleges ended up in Warner’s Bank of America account, be deducted by Fifa from the monies owed to the World Cup organising committee and sent to Concacaf.

Fifa and the South African Football Federation have denied wrongdoing, claiming the payment was made in good faith to support the World Cup’s Diaspora Programme in the Caribbean. Valcke insisted this week he was “beyond reproach”.

Uefa’s president, Michel Platini, arrived in Zurich on Friday to consider his options a week after frustration at seeing his chosen challenger to Blatter, Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein, defeated turned to relief at seeing Blatter deposed.

All six global confederations are lying low, biding their time as they work out how to best calibrate their positions while Blatter attempts to cling on to power until promised elections between December and March.

The FBI investigation is ongoing and further indictments are expected to follow, while US investigators and Swiss prosecutors are looking into the 2018-22 bidding race.

David Gill, the Football Association vice-chairman, has ruled out standing for the Fifa presidency.

Sepp Blatter’s Re-Election Rocked by Bomb Scare at FIFA Congress

Zurich vote FIFA
AFC members hold 47 of the 209 votes in the FIFA election

Sepp Blatter is calling for unity among FIFA’s 209 members as the world soccer body holds its annual Congress in Zurich.

Zurich: Swiss police are investigating a bomb threat at the FIFA congress, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

“I can confirm there has been a bomb threat against the FIFA congress, officers have been dispatched” the spokeswoman for the city police said.

Meanwhile, world soccer boss Sepp Blatter was expected to be re-elected on Friday, defying growing calls for him to step down in the face of corruption scandals engulfing the sport’s governing body.

Addressing FIFA delegates at the body’s annual Congress in Switzerland, where members will later vote to decide the organisation’s presidency, Blatter promised more transparency and urged members to remain unified.

He also said that FIFA would probably not be facing its present problems if Russia and Qatar had not been awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively.

“Today, I am appealing to unity and team spirit so we can move forward together,” he said, in a low key-address that contrasted with his more defiant reaction on Thursday.

Blatter also sought to distance himself from the scandal, the biggest crisis FIFA has faced in its 111-year history.

U.S. authorities have accused top FIFA figures and sports executives of corruption, while Switzerland is separately investigating the award of the next World Cup finals to Russia and Qatar.

Michel Platini calls on Sepp Blatter to stand down after corruption investigation engulfs FIFA

Sepp Blatter at a meeting in Zurich in March. He faces the toughest challenge of his long career after the American authorities announced indictments for 14 current and former soccer officials and marketing executives.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has told an emergency meeting of football’s governing body he will not quit, amid growing political pressure over a corruption scandal. Seven top Fifa officials were arrested in Zurich on Wednesday, among 14 people indicted by US prosecutors.

UK PM David Cameron urged Mr Blatter to resign but Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed him for a fifth term. Fifa’s congress opens later. The vote for president will go ahead on Friday.

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Michel Platini, the head of Uefa, the European football governing body, had asked Mr Blatter to resign after the crisis talks in Zurich, which involved heads of the six international confederations. The president refused.

Mr Platini later said that if Mr Blatter were re-elected, Uefa might have to discuss its relations with Fifa. Key sponsors have expressed concern over twin corruption investigations by both the US and Swiss authorities.

Michel Platini believes Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein has the support of most of Uefa’s members. Photograph: Michael Probst/AP

Uefa threat

The emergency meeting was Mr Blatter’s first appearance since the crisis began on Wednesday.

He was not among the 14 people who were charged by the US authorities on Wednesday with racketeering, fraud and money laundering.

UEFA President Michel Platini arrives to a press conference

At a Uefa news conference later, Mr Platini said he had asked Mr Blatter “as a friend” to resign, saying:

“I have had enough – enough is enough, too much is too much.

A combination of file pictures shows Fifa officials (L to R, from upper row) Rafael Esquivel, Nicolas Leoz, Jeffrey Webb, Jack Warner, Eduardo Li, Eugenio Figueredo and Jose Maria Marin, 27 May 2015
The current and former Fifa executives indicted include Rafael Esquivel, Nicolas Leoz, Jeffrey Webb, Jack Warner, Eduardo Li, Eugenio Figueredo and Jose Maria Marin

“I say these things with tears in my eyes. I don’t like it this way. But there are just too many scandals.”

But the president told Mr Platini it was too late, as Fifa’s congress was about to start.

Uefa agreed at its meeting on Thursday to throw its weight behind Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Mr Blatter’s only challenger, in Friday’s vote.

Mr Platini said that if Mr Blatter won, Uefa could hold an extraordinary meeting in Berlin at the time of the Champions League final.

When asked if this could include withdrawing from Fifa competitions, Mr Platini said:

“We will raise all possibilities.”

A police officer stands guard outside the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation

Pressed on the possibility of a World Cup boycott, he said:

“There may be proposals. I honestly don’t wish that.”

Mr Platini said the other confederations had wanted the vote to go ahead “and let the best man win”.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) said in a statement that it opposed any delay to the vote.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter on 20 March 2015

Meanwhile, Britain’s David Gill said he would not take up his post on Fifa’s executive committee if Mr Blatter were re-elected.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had earlier urged a delay in the vote, saying Fifa’s current image was disastrous.

Mr Putin, however, said the allegations against Fifa were a clear attempt by the US to stop Mr Blatter’s re-election.

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke arrives for a meeting at UEFA in Zurich
Football Association chairman Greg Dyke arrives for a meeting at UEFA in Zurich

Swiss investigation

Fifa on Wednesday provisionally banned from football-related activity 11 of the 14 people charged in the US. On Thursday it added another, Aaron Davidson.

Some of the 14 are accused of receiving bribes to influence the outcome of bids to stage football tournaments, such as the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the 2016 Copa America in the US.

South African government officials have denied the claim.

One of those indicted, Chuck Blazer, the former top American official at Fifa, has already pleaded guilty to four charges and has been a co-operating witness for the FBI since he quit football in 2013.

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 20: FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter looks on during a press conference at the end of the FIFA Executive Comitee meeting at the FIFA headquarters on March 20, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)

In addition to Coca-Cola and Visa, major sponsors Adidas, McDonald’s, Hyundai Motor, Budweiser and Gazprom are also pressing Fifa to take immediate actionto restore its reputation.

Swiss prosecutors plan to interview 10 Fifa executive committee members as part of a separate investigation into the bidding process for the World Cup tournaments in 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar.

Several people shot dead in Swiss town Wuerenlingen

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Several people have been killed in a shooting in the Swiss town of Wuerenlingen, north-west of Zurich.

Police found bodies lying inside and outside a residential building overnight.

The gunman was among the dead and some of the victims knew him, police spokesman Bernhard Graser told the BBC.

The motive appears to have been a family dispute and the case is not terror-related, he added. An investigation is under way.

Wuerenlingen, a German-speaking town of some 4,000 people, is located about 30km (20 miles) from Zurich.

These Are The World’s Safest Cities

Asian and European cities come out on top. At number 10, New York City is the safest in the United States.

In 1990, homicides in New York hit a record high of 2,245—an average of six per day. In 2013, the city recorded only 335 murders for the entire year, despite adding 1 million more residents.

In other words: “the safety of cities can ebb and flow,” as a new report puts it. Meanwhile, the type of threats change too. Twenty-five years ago, nobody was worried about climate change, and the term “cyber-security” had barely been invented. Now they’re more serious challenges than some traditional crimes.

For a snapshot of current risks to cities and a ranking of which are the safest, see the Economist Intelligence Unit‘s Safe Cities Index 2015. Bringing together 40 data indicators, it offers a multifaceted view of 50 cities worldwide across four areas: digital security, health security, infrastructure safety, and personal safety.

It’s no surprise that, generally, richer cities are safer. Tokyo and Singapore top the list, while Jakarta, in Indonesia, comes out on the bottom. The top-10 is full of well-off comfortable cities like Stockholm (4th) and Zurich (7th). But the rich-safe link isn’t always there.

Some wealthy Middle Eastern places score low down, for instance. “Four of the five Middle Eastern cities in the Index are considered high income, but only one makes it into the top half of the Index: at 25 Abu Dhabi is 21 places above Riyadh at number 46,” the report says.

Tokyo, the world’s most populous city, scores well for digital security, personal safety, and infrastructure safety, despite the risk it faces from earthquakes.

Many European cities score relatively poorly for digital safety, but dominate the top-10 list for health security, with Zurich, Brussels, Barcelona and Frankfurt all appearing. Asia dominates the top-10 for personal safety with the very safe (and dull) Singapore coming out best of all.

Interestingly, the safety of cities isn’t necessarily reflected in how safe citizens feel. That’s particularly true of U.S. cities, where people often feel less safe than perhaps they should (Chicago has the widest divergence between safety perception and reality, according to the data).

That may be a hangover from the homicide highs of the ’70s and ’80s and perhaps a certain mythologizing of crime through TV and movies. Actually, many American cities are relatively safe these days, though New York is still only in 28th place for personal safety.

Burglars break into the offices of Michael Schumacher’s top doctor sparking fears they have stolen medical data revealing the true extent of his ski crash injuries

Fears for his privacy: Burglars have targeted the offices of Michael Schumacher's top doctor Johannes Peil (left), raising concerns they have taken  medical data that reveals the true extent of the star's injuries

  • Laptop among items taken in raid on surgery in Bad Nauheim in Germany 
  • Dr Johannes Peil is among team of doctors caring for F1 star at his home
  • Rescuer hanged himself after being accused of stealing his medical data
  • News blackout over star’s injuries, but said to be mute and unable to move

Dr. Johannes Peil und Michael Schumacher

Burglars have broken into the office of one of Michael Schumacher’s top doctors, raising fears they have stolen medical data that reveals the true extent of his condition.

A laptop was among the items stolen in the break-in at the surgery of Dr Johannes Peil, 60, who has been one of the F1 star’s physicians for many years.

Mr Peil is also part of the 15-strong team of medics currently caring for Schumacher, 46, at his home on lake Geneva following his catastrophic ski accident in the Swiss Alps in 2013.

Road to recovery: Schumacher (pictured with wife Corinna in 2004) was holidaying with family and friends in Meribel, France when the accident happened in December 2013

The clinic in Bad Nauheim in Germany was broken into between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning through an open cellar door.

Dr Peil’s other prominent patients include Nico Rosberg and Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama.

Money, some perfume and prescription forms were also stolen.

Last year, a helicopter rescue worker who treated Schumacher hanged himself in a Zurich jail cell after being arrested for stealing details of his condition which he tried to sell to news organisations.

schumacher

Schumacher spent months in a coma following the accident before being transferred to a rehab clinic in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He was then moved to a medical suite built into his mansion in September.

Since then, a news blackout has fallen over his condition, but insiders report he remains mute and unable to move.

Last month, it was revealed that Schumacher had sold his Norwegian mountain holiday home for £2million as he continues to recover from his horrific ski injuries.

The sale of the retreat, in Trysil, north of Oslo, comes after it emerged last year that his family was planning to build a £10million ‘hospital’ room for the star at their home in Switzerland.

Schumacher, a very competent skier, was holidaying with family and friends in Meribel, France, where he owns a chalet when the accident happened in December 2013.

He was skiing with his 14-year-old son on a red piste, which is classed for intermediate skiers.

But shortly after 11am, he left the piste and skied on to an off-piste area located in between the red run and a blue run, for beginners to intermediates.

It was here that he struck a partially-covered rock. He was not skiing fast but he lost control and catapulted 34 feet on to another rock.

He smashed his head on the bolder. The force of the collision shattered his helmet. The footage recorded on a camera attached to his helmet was undamaged.

Liquidating his assets: Michael Schumacher's family has sold his Norwegian mountain holiday home (pictured) for £2million as he continues to recover from his horrific ski injuries

The film, which included audio, captured the crash in full horror and was analysed by police who investigated the accident.

Two months later, on February 17, the head of the inquiry, Prosecutor Patrick Quincy, closed the case. He announced that any criminal wrongdoing had been ruled out.

He cleared the ski resort, stating that the piste had been marked correctly and that Schumacher ‘deliberately’ left the ski run.

At the end of January it was announced that doctors had begun the process of gradually awakening him from his coma.

Since September last year he has been looked after by medical experts at his home in Gland, Switzerland.

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