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Money Laundering in Football – are the crooks really running the show? Part 2 of our investigation

Money laundering, football and the press – part 2 (with added Lassana Diara)

By Anne

In our first article in this series exposing corruption in football we took a quick look at the situation at Tottenham and the minor matter of how a set of phone records got into the wrong hands – before contemplating the strange case of Peter Storrie, ex-colleague of Arry Redknapp, and who, after a preliminary court hearing seems to have vanished from the legal scene.

The second article opened up the whole can of worms that is money laundering in football, and the attitude of the UK press to it.  We concluded with the hypothesis that the English media may have a certain reluctance to report on “money laundering” in conjunction with English football. This in turn leads us to some further money laundering allegations that may have appeared in relation to Portsmouth.

In the interim we have been greatly helped by fans of Southampton who have compiled what must be the biggest dossier on wrong doing at a club ever produced.

So now we move on to another report, which apparently was generated by news service Agence France-Presse.  But it received so little English language coverage that I feel compelled to include the disclaimer that I am currently unsure about the validity of the report. However, at the current time, I can find no evidence that the allegation has been refuted:

“Paris, France – French press announces that Real Madrid’s midfielder, Lassana Diarra, has entered French Financial Police’s sights, the motive of investigation being his transfer from Portsmouth to Real Madrid.

The French international, Lassana Diarra, aged 26, is under investigation in his country for the alleged crimes of money laundering and tax evasion – at least this is what a regional newspaper in France has revealed yesterday….

The publication…said that the Police investigation orbits around a firm in Le Havre and another one from Switzerland that would have served as ‘mask.’”

I also found the following report on the same subject:

“Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra is facing charges relating to a tax fraud probe by police in Le Havre, AFP reported citing the French regional paper Paris-Normandie.

The 26-year-old defender has been placed under official judicial investigation.

Football agent John Williams has also been targeted in the affair, notably for his role in Diarra’s 20 million euro (£18.9 million) transfer from Portsmouth to Real Madrid in January 2009.”

If one of our French-speaking readers would be interested in further investigating these alleged charges against Diarra in the French media, I would be very much interested to hear the results.

Finally, the following article, concerning Antonov’s previous attempt to purchase Scotland’s Rangers, gives a little bit of relevant background information (although I cannot personally vouch for the veracity and/or accuracy of this information that was reported in the Scottish press). This article is from 15 August, 2010 (emphasis included in original article):

“THE Russian tycoon putting up almost £75million to buy Rangers is from a dynasty dogged by allegations of links to the MAFIA and MONEY-LAUNDERING…

Antonov, 35, has had to angrily deny stories that his family’s business empire is associated with the underworld and money-laundering.

The banking magnate recently had a third £6million bid to buy AFC Bournemouth rejected by the lowly English team. And last year his father Alexander, 60, survived being shot 18 times outside his luxury Moscow apartment in a failed assassination attempt.

Antonov and his business associate Roman Dubov are providing most of the cash for English property developer Andrew Ellis to launch a new bid for the SPL champs…

Rangers fans will be hoping he can pour millions into their club – just like his fellow Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich has done at Chelsea.”

And on one final note (which I want to emphasize is not necessarily related, in any respect, to the current criminal allegations against persons linked to Portsmouth football club), the Financial Action Task Force noted in its 2009 report titled “Money Laundering Through The Football Sector” that:

“Tax evasion and money laundering often use the same mechanisms. For example the money launderer may seek to conceal the proceeds of crime in corporate entities registered in regimes which have light financial regulation or strict banking secrecy laws. The tax evader will seek out the same secrecy jurisdictions.

For a football club the channelling of money in a transfer deal through companies resident in low tax jurisdictions may be a method of laundering money, equally it may be tax evasion. And it is also likely that both offences may be present.

The financial investigator faced with a complex series of transactions will have at some point to distinguish between money laundering and tax evasion as the objective… Whilst tax evasion may be the predicate offence behind money laundering it is also likely that the objective of the suspicious activity is tax evasion…

In the latter case recovering the proceeds of crime may be better effected by the application of tax powers and the recovery of tax, interest, and civil penalties.”

Untold readers can expect further articles following up on some of the issues raised in this article. However, if anyone would like to do their own research, the above-linked FATF report on money laundering would be a good place to start.

Also, here are a few more of the (many) news reports on money laundering allegations that are in some way linked to English football players, clubs, and/or related parties (although it must be emphasized that Untold cannot vouch for the veracity of any of these reported allegations, and thus takes no position with regard to the ultimate truth or falsity thereof). The links to the media sources making these allegations may all be found below:

From 7 September, 2011:

Anti-mafia investigators in Italy want to interview Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli over a visit he made to a known mafia hot spot in Naples….The move is part of a wider investigation into money laundering.”

From 24 February, 2011:

“According to the Irish newspaper, Irish Examiner, Valeri Belokon, the owner of British football club, Blackpool FC, ‘categorically denies any involvement in money laundering in Kyrgyzstan.’

Belokon is one of the 32 people indicted after the April coup in 2010 on corruption and money-laundering charges by the Attorney General of Kyrgyzstan.”

From 16 February, 2011:

“Lawyer and former Dundee Football Club director Giovanni di Stefano has been arrested in Spain following a UK investigation into money-laundering allegations.”

From 2 September, 2010:

“’Spot fixer’ Majeed laundered £20 mn through football club

British Customs officials suspect that businessman-cum-spot fixer Mazhar Majeed laundered over 20-million-pounds through a non-league football club he owned.

Millionaire Majeed, who is accused of orchestrating the global betting scam that has rocked Pakistan and world cricket, is said to have boasted he invested vast sums of money from the racket in Croydon Athletic Football Club.”

Related, from 4 October, 2010:

Mazhar Majeed’s Football Club Chief David Dies

The chairman of a south London football club whose owner was linked to the cricket match-fixing scandal has died.

David Le Cluse, 44, the chairman of Croydon Athletic Football Club was found dead on Saturday with a bullet wound in a garage in Sutton.

The club was probed for suspected money-laundering after its owner Mazhar Majeed was arrested over match-fixing allegations against the Pakistan team…

The club chairman’s body was found with a bullet wound to the head at 1040 BST on Saturday in a garage in Park Gate Road, Sutton, close to his home in Surrey. A statement from the Metropolitan Police said:

‘A 44-year-old man suffered what is believed to have been a gunshot wound to the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The circumstances of his death are being treated as unexplained. Inquiries are ongoing.’”

According to subsequent reports in the English media, the above death was a suicide.

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“Making the Arsenal” – is available on Amazon, Arsenal on line, the Woolwich Arsenal site, and in the Arsenal store.

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71 comments to Money Laundering in Football – are the crooks really running the show? Part 2 of our investigation

  • Anne

    “In the interim we have been greatly helped by fans of Southampton who have compiled what must be the biggest dossier on wrong doing at a club ever produced.”

    Here’s the link. (Warning: It’s really long. I’ve only just started going through it):

    http://www.saintsweb.co.uk/showthread.php?14620-Pompey-Takeover-Saga

  • Arvind

    I just wonder…if any sport…any sport is clean at all after reading all this. I think its safe to say that ..where there is money there will be corruption.

    And as for Diarra… never one of my favorite players even in his short Arsenal stint, so not sorry he’s caught in all this shit…if he’s actually involved that is.

    I just hope some day…that it never comes to light that even Arsenal was involved in something. Now that I’d truly truly hate. Not that it will happen or is true… but it’d be just awful if it did.

    Lastly what might be interesting Anne..is finding out..how much the player actually knows. As in yes they sign etc etc etc… but really I couldn’t think many of them have any clue. Like Tevez and Kia Jooobrachian or whoeever. Any ideas?

  • Arvind

    Oh and of course… well written again, I forgot :). Its the commitment to the cause that is even more impressive than the content itself. [That’s a compliment :D]

  • Wow Anne, i cannot believe wot i just read,Anne the Chinese Ref!!Who paid him? Any Clues!!

  • Simon

    Anne, my compliments, this is excellent… The commitment of Untold Arsenal to this matter is a noble endeveaour and you must be persistent…

    Of course hard evidence will always be required, but the in-pouring of money into seemingly random clubs in the UK is for me sufficient evidence, Citeh is corrupt wether they pay the ref or not, the provenance of all this money is always suspicious, often clearly dodgy, never questioned…

    Of course the media are complicit, too many vested interests, emotional as well as financial and of course the usual gangster frighteners ready to silence any lone voices.

    It always starts at the top and FIFA is a corrupt, bribe taking, gangster operation that has taken over football for it’s own interests, why would anyone suppose that a bunch of Russian / ex-Soviet gangsters, supervised by FIFA gangsters would lead to honest and clean sporting contests… Look at cricket, look at the illegal and unregulated gambling rings in SE Asia, why would these people not target English Soccer where the pickings are far richer and the risks seemingly lower?

    I suggest you attempt to widen the ring of sympathetic journalists, identify a sympathetic politician perhaps… This article from today’s DT is interesting http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8982969/Corrupt-elites-are-being-named-and-shamed-by-the-people.html

    the last paragraph… The journalist is right… these matters need scrutiny, more than just Soccer is at risk, well done UA I say but cajole, embarrass, urge, exhort others to break ranks and expose this sham.

    Personally I no longer go to games, the FIFA stuff, what I read here, my own uneasy misgivings have combined and whilst my love and admiration for AFC and Arsene Wenger remain and burn bright I cannot support a rigged entertainment and place myself in the position of mug punter… I long to return to a cleaned-up sport but I am not confident, UA seems a lone voice…

    Thanks, Simon

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Perhaps you’d like to explain how a legal transfer arrangement between two football clubs makes the player in the middle liable for criminal prosecution?

    1. Was Lassana Diarra controlling the CEO of Portsmouth FC to act under his instructions? If not, the deal struck is the responsibility of the CEO, not Diarra.
    2. Did Diarra demand a ‘bung’ for the transfer? If so, he has questions to answer.
    3. Did Diarra’s agent demand a bung to be paid to shady mafia types, be that through front companies, or not?

    The key question with all transfers is ‘where does the money go to?’

    In my opinion, all football clubs should be required to document all flows of money related to transfers, including agents fees, ‘sign-on-fees’, bungs, bribes and extortions.

    If a £20m transfer means:
    £7m to Arsenal;
    £2m to the player;
    £1m to his agent;
    £5m to the mafia;
    £5mto the bank

    then it’s a £5m transfer with £15m associated costs, which is a different matter altogether to fans.

  • WalterBroeckx

    @ Dogface: There is no corruption in football. 😉 🙂
    Just like Comical Ali said: there are no Americans in Bagdad….

  • WalterBroeckx

    Anne must say another great article. On the other hand a bit sad to see how the sport we love is a target for all those criminals.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Oh and totally off topic but just seen on Arsenal.com : TH loan-deal should be done in the next days/hours.
    Just a few agreements about insurance and the agreement with the New York Red Bulls to be settled. Now wasn’t letting them win the Emirates cup part of the agreement? 😉

    And of for fuck sake I will not come until March 10 for the game against Newcastle when TH will be gone again. Now that is bad ouch….

  • Anne

    @Arvind:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the article, and I also really appreciate your compliments.

    In response to the substance of your comment, I will first state categorically that no, there is no sport that is free from corruption, just like there is no business sector that is free from corruption. You’re correct that corruption always follows money, and wherever you have a lot of money, the corruption is there too.

    It is also true that, in any such sector, you also have elements and individuals that are not corrupt. Football is definitely tilted towards the heavily corrupt side right now, but it’s still not a black and white matter. I would also say that the same likely applies to individual football clubs.

    I would thus be very surprised if no corrupt individual had ever found their way into Arsenal. However, something else that I have observed about Arsenal through this research is that, unlike many clubs, Arsenal, for the most part, conducts its business in a manner that would not be consistent with the objective to launder money.

    As for your question about the motives and knowledge of individual players, I would think that the answer most likely varies depending on the specific circumstances and the players involved. It is also worth remembering that most football players are quite young, and have educational levels that might make them easy targets for manipulation by sophisticated criminals.

    I’m actually planning a separate article on the Tevez and Kia Jooobrachian matter that you mentioned, so maybe we can look more at it then.

  • Anne

    @Kampala Gun:

    I’m glad that you enjoyed the article, but unfortunately I have absolutely no idea who paid the Chinese Ref. No clues either. That might be a better question for DogFace 🙂

  • bob

    Anne, Rhyss,
    It’s interesting that Sports Illustrated had reported (see Anne’s super-link below) that Nasri and Diarra have the same French super-agent – the same man who has a grudge vs Primorac/Arsene for 18 years.

    This past summer, Arsene mentioned that Sami’s head was turned; and thereafter Sami soon had left. At the time, on the surface, it seemed the decisive factor head-turning was our ex-Veira, in his managerial position at ManShitty (and who is there to greet Sami on the club’s own video when Sami first arrives on day one at their offices). And, as all recall, the double blow of losing ex-Nasri and ex-Cesc sent us hurtling and opened the floodgates to the simultaneous terrible start and “Arsene Out” campaign that near fully destabilized us. But the article in SI suggest that Sami’s agent was decisive. So there we were, up against two de facto super-agents, Dein the Lesser and Sami’s man (string-puller?), in their money-vise. Any coordination there? Can’t say at all, but it does beg the question.

    Diarra may or may not have been a witting figure in the current scandal. In any case, this might behoove Sami and others to have a wee think about his representation. That two-month rich vein of form for AFC surely was a rich vein of form. But, as Rhyss puts it, it would be useful to ever know how much of the money actually goes to the player. To which one might add, to what extent is the player – the one with whom fans emotionally bond with – at all morally culpable or NOT for the machinations of his club and handlers. Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice.
    Thanks to Anne for:
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:OfOGk6MtqikJ:sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/ben_lyttleton/08/19/jean-pierre.bernes.frances.most.powerful.agent/index.html+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

  • bob

    btw,
    Does anyone know who’s our ex-Nicolas Anelka’s super-agent?
    As many know, he left Chelski this season to become the biggest acquisition in the history of Chinese football, joining a club backed by a super Shanghai real-estate mogul.

  • Anne

    @DogFace:

    From what I can decipher through google translate, it looks like the article you linked to might be the biggest smoking gun on the issue of match fixing that I’ve ever encountered in news print. It would help if I knew more about Italian football (or spoke Italian for that matter), but I’ll definitely be going back for a closer look later.

    It’s not as good, but did you ever see this one?

    Wayne Rooney’s father arrested in police betting probe
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-15196761

  • bob

    Anne,
    Wayne’s uncle too.

  • Anne

    @Simon:

    I’m glad you liked the article. While I certainly agree with your sentiments, I must admit that I’m personally very skeptical about the likelihood that traditional protest methods and/or appeals to politicians would be much help in a situation like this.

    At the current moment, the best form of “protest” I can think of relates to the following quote (one of my favorites):

    “It’s in the best interests of cockroaches to keep the lights off… It’s much easier to hide.”

    Beyond that, I believe that the only alternative would be to try to hit them in their pocketbooks, which would basically mean not watching professional football anymore. But I’m not willing to take that step while Arsenal is still fighting to win the league honestly, based on the quality of their football.

    However, I’m actually thinking that the corruption itself has gotten so bad at this point that it’s probably beginning to threaten their pocketbooks anyway. If that’s the case, it might be time for the pendulum to swing in the other direction a bit.

  • Anne,
    Exceptionally meticulous articles. Mind boggling- your work, mind you, and not the content. That for me is the saddest part about all this- what you are documenting is not even in the least surprising, as if all these were, as you say, open secrets; as if it’s a matter of when it will happen rather than if it will happen. Corruption has become such a regular part of any business activity that it does not even evoke any emotions any more.

    I just have one doubt- do you still support Barca?

    Bob,
    Anelka’s agent is Michael Weisenfield from the EFG(European Football Group), at least that’s what’s inferable from these two links.
    http://www.goal.com/en/news/11/transfer-zone/2011/07/13/2572749/no-mls-offer-for-chelseas-nicolas-anelka-agent
    http://www.europeanfootballgroup.com/index.php?section=about_staff
    The latter site is hopelessly out of date though.
    Google’s your friend, Bob.

  • Anne

    @Rhys:

    Based on the amount of information I have at the moment, I’m unable to answer your questions about Diarra. As I said in the article, I’m actually trying to find out more about the case before making any judgments. However, if the report in the article is correct, I would think that French authorities must have had some basis to suspect Diarra personally.

  • Anne

    @Walter:

    I’m glad that you liked the article. Unfortunately, the rest of the series will most likely be more “sad” than this.

  • bob

    btw,
    Other postings/comments on UA from the wrenching summer months (I think Tony covered some of this) brought up the idea that one or more MAJOR players who were then transferred to one or more European big teams, are partly owned by various monied interests, and so, are not acting as completely independent morally responsible agents, but as co-owned entities. How, then does one speak about players who are not their own men. This is like robo-player; part corporate/part human. Perhaps we need to revise our very notion of “what”” exactly is kicking the ball on the pitch.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Maybe the Belgium professor Mark Helsen has made a study on this but I didn’t search for that.
    He was responsible for the physical condition of the refs on a few world cups (Germany for sure) and also some European championships in the last decades and is accepted as having done a lot of studying on this subject.
    But I didn’t google (t)his to be honest

    this should have appeared in the ref article just ignore it

  • Mandy dodd

    An amazingly thoroughly written piece of research covering these two articles. And scary for football. These issues now seem to be coming out on an almost daily basis, our league is about the richest of the lot so we must be affected. Seems the same clubs linked with the same individuals come up time and time again, eg Pompey and soton in this country, then diarra, one man links them all. I feel for the proper fans involved in these clubs. That will be an interesting trial coming up. I think there are a number of people at all levels of football now involved in this sort of thing, would not mind betting a few would like to get out, but very difficult once you sell your soul!
    If arsenal do get new owners in the near future, hope they look into them very carefully, or maybe they already have

  • Anne

    @bob:

    That article has actually caused me to completely reevaluate my take on the Nasri transfer. Specifically, what does it say about Nasri’s club loyalty, and his character in general, that he made an apparent personal decision to form a business relationship with a man like Sean-Pierre Bernes? A man who not only is a convicted criminal, but also had an openly antagonistic relationship with officials at Nasri’s club?

    I would really like to see Wenger’s “head turned” comment in its full context (I’ve been unable to find it so far),because I have some questions now about the way the Nasri transfer has been reported (ie, that Arsenal wanted to keep Nasri, but that Nasri was “lured away” due to Man City’s ability to pay him more money than Arsenal).

    Specifically, I’m wondering if the real issue might have been that Arsenal wasn’t all that interested in keeping Nasri to begin with. Because that’s definitely how I feel about him after reading that article. And it would explain why Arsenal didn’t offer him enough money to renew his contract.

    the problem was really wanted to keep Nasri in the first place.

  • Anne

    @bob:

    Just ignore that last line. Not sure how it got pasted there 🙂

  • Anne

    @bob:

    Ok, now you’re getting ahead of my series 🙂 I’m planning to cover the joint ownership of players later, but here’s some of the research I’ve turned up (this is from the FATF report):

    “A relatively recent development is the possibility of ownership of players (or rights in players) by individuals or entities that are not football clubs.

    These persons fall outside the direct jurisdiction of the football organisations. The ownership structures often involve companies in offshore jurisdictions with complex and often impenetrable ownership structures. A significant amount of money is generated as a result of player transactions that have resulted in significant sums being paid to such entities where they hold the ownership rights to certain players.

    Due to the limitations of the football organisations jurisdiction, the basis of the acquisition of these rights and the trading, funding and ownership position of the entities through which such transactions are managed is opaque and often impossible for the football organisations to establish.

    78.
    Full legal ownership of players is particularly a South-American phenomenon. In Europe private investors sometimes collect funds through a closed talent pool. These talent pools are however no legal owners of a player, giving them only the right to (part of) the revenues when a player is sold to another club. Talent pools are often better options to actually get a return than through the investment in a football
    club as such. Talent pools could be misused for money laundering.

  • WalterBroeckx

    come to think of it nut sure about his first name in fact…

  • Anne

    @Walter:

    I did a quick search and found some work by Helsen, so I know who you’re talking about. But I’m thinking I might have misunderstood your first post, because I’m not sure exactly what I’m supposed to be looking for that he might have written 🙂

  • bob

    Anne,
    Cheers for calling into question whether, as I stated, Arsene actually used the phrase “head turned” re Nasri. I’ve been looking now, but can’t find it either. That said, article after article in August about Sami-leaving kept using the same term “head turned;” and it seems, in retrospect, by the sheer number of echos and repetitions, to have been a talking point. Alas, I remembered this period as if Arsene had said it; and now see that many of the sentences that use it are in articles with other quotations from Arsene about the gathering situation – but not that phrase.

    It just may well be the term of choice among brits or jornos in this context? One source of the phrase is that bete noire, David Hytner of the Guardian. (For example, on August 11th, he uses it: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/aug/11/arsenal-cesc-fabregas-samir-nasri ) And it’s usually echoed in the press like this: Nasri has had his head turned by Man City’s riches.. A tiny few mention his agent (in the abstract, not by name, except for the very good SI piece); but mostly it’s Sami being-tempted or greedy but always head turned. So, nothing yet on Arsene actually using the formulation; but the press in August is using it with no quote or citation from AW himself. If, then, he never used it, perhaps one or more of these jornos knew something; or, again, maybe it’s just the idiom of choice in these circumstances. BUT, aren’t there other words than head turn which could be deployed? I dunno, maybe there’s fire behind smoke here, or nothing at all. But it seems worth keeping in play, just in case it adds up to something.

  • bjtgooner

    Excellent article again Anne and most interesting.

    Regarding Na$ri; I can vaguely remember Wenger stating that he could not sell Na$ri until he got the right price, so it could be he did intend to sell Na$ri from quite early last summer – because of the points noted above – and negotiations with the Oilers were more protracted and difficult than Wenger anticipated.

    What I did not like about Na$ri last season was that he (or his agent) indicated on several occasions that he would sign a contract extension – first in the Autumn, then during the Winter, then in the Spring, but never did. (Did he or his agent play too much Vivaldi!)

  • bob

    Anne, all,
    Looks like we’ll soon be needing a new vocabulary to capture the underlying realities of today’s game. Here’s a poor start, but a step in that direction: Let’s say we talk about capital flows instead of players; closing bells instead of final whistles; strategic partnerships instead of teams; ref piracies instead of game changing non-calls. So, when a player has an off-day or a protracted run of bad form, or poor season, then he’s having a liquidity crisis, to the point of being illiquid. Otherwise, he might be considered increasingly encumbered (debt-strapped) or, alternatively, regulation-free. Anyway, maybe not so funny, but serious fun. If a team’s player is actually joint venture (and I don’t mean ankles, elbows and knees) or strategic partnership, then there is at least a parallel reality going on off the pitch with impact with its counterpart (aka the game) on the pitch. Ah well, time for my pint…

  • bob

    btjgooner,
    Speaking of Vivaldi, to cook that meal, it does seem that Na$ri & Cie. used the four seasonings. (ahem)

  • Playuppompey

    Really goes to show how obsessed the scummers(southampton) are with pompey when they write that amount about another clubs finances.And yes The FA,The premier league and several others should be ashamed how they stood back and allowed what happened at PFC to go on.

  • Anne

    @Naren:

    “I just have one doubt- do you still support Barca?”

    Barca and I are not on speaking terms right now because of the Cesc transfer. I haven’t even been able to watch them this season because seeing Cesc playing for them still makes me angry.

    The main reason that I was initially willing to defend their behavior with regard to the Cesc transfer was because I didn’t think they actually had any intention to sign Cesc. And if that was the case, all of the tapping up stuff made more sense in the context of media mischief.

    The reason I didn’t think Barca was serious about the transfer was because none of the offers they made for Cesc seemed high enough for Arsenal to even plausibly consider, so it seemed to me to be more something that was related to the club elections.

    I guess where I made my mistake was in completely writing off all the media claims about how badly Cesc wanted to leave, and how he was doing everything he could to pressure Arsenal into letting him go. Because that changes the equation.

    I still believe that the majority of those media reports about tapping up were fabricated, but I do believe that Barca deliberately put intense media pressure on Arsenal, which, combined with the pressure from Cesc from inside the club, seems just the sort of thing that would finally compel Arsenal to accept a low ball offer.

    And you know… the thing that makes me the angriest of all about this is the fact that Barca had plenty of money in their transfer budget to pay a decent price for Cesc if they wanted to sign him. But no. Instead, they spent their whole damn budget to bring in Alexi Sanchez in the same position where they already had David Villa. David Villa, one of the best strikers in the world, who they were benching as a sub before he broke his leg.

    So, yes, I’m very angry about this (as you can probably tell from the fact that I seem to be ranting about it). Oh, and there’s also the fact that I stuck my neck out to defend Barca, and they then made me look like an idiot for showing quite clearly that they didn’t deserve it.

    But despite all of that, I can’t bring myself to say that I don’t still support Barca. They were the club that first introduced me to football while I was living abroad in Barcelona, and the first club I ever supported, and I think I just have too much of a sentimental connection to them to write them off. So, I don’t know… Maybe I’ll feel like watching them again by next season…

    But I would sure as hell love to see Arsenal completely thrash them in the CL this year. And I also think this has permanently settled the question of which club I will be supporting in future head to head meetings.

  • bob

    Naren,
    “Google’s your friend, Bob.”
    Happy new year (anyway), Naren.

  • bob

    Anne, all,
    No dots to connect, but some interesting items to juggle and a question posed at the end:

    Our ex-Nicolas Anelka was just the biggest transfer in Chinese football history; this, btw, just before this current massive Chinese match-fixing scandal has erupted.
    (Following Naren’s hyperlink) it appears that Anelka’s likely current agent, Michael Wiesenfeld, is self-described this way: “Milestones such as the European crown of his favorite team Marseille winning the Champions’ League against AC Milan in 1993…” Well, Wikipedia tells us something interesting about Arsene/Marseille in the match fixing scandal of that very year – 1993: “[coaching] At Grampus, he [Arsene] hired former Valenciennes manager Boro Primorac, whom he had met during the 1993 match-fixing scandal involving Olympique de Marseille, as his assistant. Wenger, who long held the view that Marseille was acting improperly, fully supported the Bosnian manager when he attempted (ultimately with success) to clear himself from any wrongdoing. Primorac would remain Wenger’s ‘right-hand man’ for years to come, a position he still holds today.”

    Ok, so this is the presumed historical foundation for the revenge scenario (according to SI.com) that Nasri’s current super-agent (who was caught up and may have served banishment/gaoling for that scandal) finally put Le Boot into Arsene’s youth program by turning Sami’s head, etc.

    Well, in 1993, Wiesenfeld was only an impressionable young fan of Marseilles, it would seem, so no problemo, Michael.
    But, moving on, in winter 1997, Anelka is brought into Arsenal for 500k. In summer 1999, Le Sulk (his fan-bestowed nickname) wanted le grand salary boost; and, with fans turned off (and his head turned?) a la $ami now, Anelka is sold to Madrid for (yikes) nearly 23 million.

    Now here’s the question: Does anyone know who was Nicolas Anelka’s agent in 1999? Any link to who was Anelka’s agent in 1997-1999 and Sami’s agent in our memorable summer of 2011? Is it possible that both Sami’s departure and Anelka’s departure were both forms of revenge (albeit with different financial returns!) that go back to the Marseille scandal of 1993?

  • Anne,
    Fair enough!
    The second last line is hilarious…seeing such language at Untold!

  • Anne

    @bob:

    Apparently, Anelka’s agents are his brothers? I’m guessing they’re not his only agents, but the only ones we know about.

  • Anne

    @Naren:

    Actually, that language is an improvement on the things I usually tend to say if I get angry about something in the comments 🙂

  • Bob,
    ‘Happy New Year(anyway)’
    Did not get you there at the’anyway’.

    Anyways, to answer you question, Anelka’s agent in that infamous summer of 1999 was his brother, Claude Anelka. I have got an interesting link for you. Any connections to Marseille and the Anelka transfer? Well you just have to look at the very first point.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sport/football/fa_carling_premiership/405221.stm
    Marseille ‘unsettled’ the player, it can be said.
    Claude Anelka has a singular history. He is alleged to paid a club, Raith Rovers, to manage it.

    The following extract is from ‘The 10 worst footall managers’ published in The Guardian.
    9 Claude Anelka

    In 2004, tired of engineering transfers for his restless brother Nicolas and fed up with ‘the crazy things’ he saw managers do, agent and DJ Claude Anelka decided he wanted to be a boss himself. With a ‘mystery’ backer, he offered £300,000 to any lower-league club who would let him be manager, and got a bite at Raith Rovers, in Scottish Division One. Citing Cruyff, Wenger and the boss of Chinawhite nightclub as influences, his philosophy and signings – some from the Paris seven-a-side leagues – brought Rovers just one point from 24 before he stepped aside.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2008/may/04/sportfeatures.footballmanagers

  • Anne,
    By improvement, do you mean less offensive versions of what’s in your mind or is it the other way around? English is a funny ol’ tongue.
    Yes, Anne, it’s his notorious brother Claude Anelka who was his agent then, as you will see when my post with the links clears the moderation.

  • Anne

    @Naren:

    I usually tend to say exactly what’s in my mind, offensive or not, and then regret it a few seconds later 🙂

    I’ll look forward to your post with the links. I think one of the most interesting aspects of this series so far has been all of the side issues that people have come up with through the comments. This stuff really never ends once you start looking, does it?

  • Anne,
    If offensive, we regret and if not offensive enough, we regret. Somebody has rightly observed that a human can never be satisfied. 🙂
    This is a maze, it goes on and on…but it’s fun, at least on the outside! As for you- how do you do what you do? Is it fun- catalouging criminals? 🙂

  • Anne

    @Naren:

    I’ve always had a tendency to dig into this kind of thing. Also, I used to be a criminal prosecutor, so it’s kind of my field. But when I see a news report or something that seems to indicate a complex criminal scheme, I guess I kind of see it as a challenge. Like, “ok, these people think they’re really smart. Let’s see if they’re smarter than me.” 🙂

    So, I’ve been investigating this kind of stuff for years just on my own, so I know where to look to find things and what searches to use. Honestly, I’m just thrilled to actually have someone to share it with this time 🙂

  • Anne,
    Criminal prosecutor? That’s great. I really appreciate having a professional writing ‘indictments’! Thanks a lot.

  • Gf60

    Wonder how much of a killing the bookies made on ManU and Chel$ki today?

  • Anne

    @Naren:

    We’re clearly not intending to make any direct criminal allegations against anyone mentioned in this series of articles, or even to imply as such. And it’s a good thing too, because I would have absolutely no idea how to do it anyway.

    (Oh, and Naren, please be careful about language that sounds like a direct criminal accusation, particularly if you’re planning on using the formal legal terminology) 🙂

  • Anne

    @Gf60:

    Ask DogFace.

  • bob

    Naren,
    Many Thanks for the great link to the Anelka departure time line. To share the first item, as you noted:

    “The transfer saga of Nicolas Anelka has dragged on through the summer with claims and counter-claims on a daily basis.
    Here BBC News Online plots the course of Anelka’s so-far failed attempt to leave Arsenal.

    May 7: Marseille claim that Anelka will not stop phoning them over a possible move to France.”

    So, in 1999, it appears that there is a successful coordinated player-tapping and apparent revenge from Marseille that is aimed against dislodging one of Arsene’s prize catches – who, like Na$ri aims to break his contract. And a decade plus later, we have Na$ri’s “head turning” from Arsenal by his agent; who, as a Marseilles coach’s assistant (not clear on his exact role there in 1993) was directly caught in Marseille’s 1993 match-fixing scandal.

    Long, long grudges still at work.

  • Russell

    Only the most gullible would believe that football (and all other sports where big money is generated) is not rotten to the core. I’m a Pompey supporter and we are almost certainly the most rotten of the 92 league clubs in that respect! However, the person who said that Arsenal would never be involved in any malpractice is living in a dream world. Arsenal may not currently be involved in anything shady (and maybe that’s why you can’t compete in the transfer market in spite of drawing huge crowds and large sponserships)but there’s certainly potential in your shareholders for it to happen!

  • Anne

    @Russell:

    You mention more than one shareholder. Could you elaborate on that?

  • Nice one from the Guardian web site 1 January in the Said and Done column

    Bulat Chagaev – Chechen businessman who bought Swiss club Neuchatel Xamax in May, sacked all admin staff, four coaches plus a keeper and denies money-laundering, forgery, being an illegal alien and using armed men to threaten his own players. “I don’t need guns to scare them. No regrets! I’m feeling good.”

  • goonergerry

    The corruption I have heard rumoured in the EPL involves illegal payments- relating to transfers which one or two journalists informally claim is endemic in English Football- but then so are groundless rumours created by journalists,
    However what was certainly not a rumour was the George Graham affair (illegal payment to Rune Hauge following the transfer of John Jensen). Proof surely that Arsenal are a club not entirely free from the taint of corruption during recent times.
    It is hard to imagine that the clubs who are relying on financial muscle to get ahead- like Chelsea, Man City and to a lesser extent Liverpool and Spurs and who tap up any player they fancy without fear are not involved in corruption at some level. Whether it is money laundering- it is difficult to say without evidence..

  • Anne, you won’t be able to indict all these rogues? A shame! Well, I don’t know if there’s any court that can convict such distinguished men. Our only hope in the mean time, sadly, is to investigate and if possible, know at least for ourselves what is really happening.
    “Afraid of shame, unknown to other fears,
    More darkly sin, by satire kept in awe,
    And shrink from ridicule, though not from law.”

    Bob,
    Alain Migliaccio is supposed to be Nasri’s agent according to transfermarkt.co.uk, not Jean-Pierre Bernes. It must also be said that Bernes himself prefers to be called an advisor rather than agent.
    http://expat-friendly.com/?Jean-Pierre-Bernes-France-s-Most

    Bernes has some singular influence at Marseille, it must be said.
    http://www.goal.com/en/news/90/france/2011/11/14/2756568/didier-deschamps-states-that-jean-pierre-bernes-has-no-influence-

    What I find very intriguing is that Nasri came from Marseille, as did Pires. I really don’t know any more about this than you but I have a gut feeling that these people just encouraged the players’ innate greed while Pires did a very exceptional job for us. Both Anelka and Nasri are not exactly known for their virtues.

  • David

    As a Pompey fan I’m ashamed that it’s fans of our near neighbours that have managed to join all the dots up about our owners.

    The vast majority of my fellow Pompey fans appear so dim that they believe everything peddled by the club and the local rag.

  • Anne,
    I would like to know what you think of the fact that Suarez was tried by an independent commission set up by the FA while Terry is facing CPS for exactly the same crime? Should not Suarez too be facing legal action?

  • Anne

    @Naren:

    I don’t really know what to think about that. Maybe it’s because Terry is English? It definitely seems to be a double standard, and I’m not sure what the motivation is. But I’m sure it’s something political.

  • Anne

    @Tony:

    Well, I think that one takes the cake 🙂

  • Anne

    @Naren:

    I love that quote, by the way,

  • Anne

    @David:

    We’ve had several Pompey fans commenting here that seem to know what’s going on. And I’m glad that you guys are around. I think it’s added a lot to the discussion. I hope that things eventually get sorted out with your club.

  • Anne,
    I feel it’s really unjust. How much ever fallen Terry might be, nobody really deserves unfair and unequal treatment.
    Don’t you think this is the first time anyone has said Terry facing something worse because he’s English? 😉
    This episode makes a mockery of the whole judicature.
    With such double standards, unaccountability and total disconnection from reality, no wonder that football has such allure for those who do not want to come out in the open.
    That quote is from ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers’ by Byron.

  • bob

    Naren,
    In the first link above, Bernes IS listed as Sami Nasri’s agent. SI.com listed him as Nasri’s agent. So I don’t get transfermarkt.co.uk saying otherwise. Here’s the link’s citation to inform readers here: “Bernes is the agent of several football players like Alou Diarra, Jeremy Menez, Blaise Matuidi, Adil Rami, Jeremy Mathieu, Jimmy Briand, Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery as well as renowned trainers like Didier Deschamps and Laurent Blanc. Samir Nasri won’t be the only one raising a toast once his proposed lucrative transfer to Manchester City is completed in the next few days. The five-year deal is reportedly worth $288,320 per week.”

    Whether he’s an advisor to Nasri or the actual agent, this former board member at OM is a massive power on the French football scene and it would be a stretch to believe he had no impact on Nasri’s leaving Arsenal for greener pa$ture$.

    As for Bernes self-description as an advisor, that hardly excludes him from big impact decisions at OM. And when OM’s boss says “But I insist: he doesn’t intervene in the day-to-day running of OM,” who cares about day to day runnings – that’s a front desk receptionist’s role.

  • Bob,
    I don’t say that all these people, Bernes of all, didn’t have a hand in the transfer but it was more because of the fact that Nasri is ungrateful and greedy. Because somewhere I feel if Bernes hates Wenger as much as we think, why get the player transferred to Arsenal in the first place? Inter under Mancini were also in for Nasri at that time. They did it then for the best career choice available to them which meant being developed by the best coach and they did it now again when the personal success got to their heads and they decided to cash in on it.
    I would not rule out anything, though.
    It would have been very clear if there was an agenda if Wenger and Primorac were at different clubs. Perhaps it makes it clear anyway given that they are at the same club- there is too much of reading in between the lines to be done.

  • jitty

    Portsmouth, Brum and (IMO) Blackburn are the classic Ponzi structure

    An onshore entity with superb cashflow, where lots of debts can accumulate. This gives one access to cash and insider information.

    Then one makes lots of money offshore,trading info and flipping players.

    Then like at Portsmouth – one might sell the company to strawmen 2 or 3 times 😀

  • bob

    Naren,
    One part of this context (Nasri leaving), imo, is that Cesc was exiting and the double blow – combined with a long period of media howling like jackals, before and after the departure of Cesc – helped create a crisis atmosphere and, coming at the last minute, an actual crisis. We don’t know who was talking to whom, and whether there was coordination or not to kick Arsenal while we were down, but it’s possible and something to continue to analyze.

    As for why let Sami come to Arsenal in the first place, I would ask whether Sami was any more than a good prospect at the time. Arsene is a legendary developer of talent; so why not let him develop Nasri and then move him on at the best time for player and agent and, in this (Nasri) case, as an extra a delicious blow against Arsene Wenger — that is, to deliver and try to terminate Arsene’s youth project. This worked to an extent; and he/AFC had to bring in experience or hurtle toward relegation and out of the CL competition.

    Whether this – or any part of it – was plotted in advance and by whom cannot be known. It’s a hypothesis to keep in play, or not. But it could have been taken advantage of once it became crystal clear that x-Cesc was in fact going to leave, and that became the right time to finally “turn Sami’s head” toward his own departure. (I remember that at different times in the summer, Arsene said he’d let neither one go, etc. There were stages to the way it played out that both finally left. How coincidental or not, how connected or not, how pre-coordinated or not, when each event actually took place would require constructing a chronology and then making educated guesses.) I think these are worth thinking about as, perhaps, more is learned by any and all going forward. Something very big happened in August and continued, imo, until AFC re-stabilized and was able to muster the current run of good form that has us in 4th Place.

  • Anne

    @Naren:

    It’s funny, I’ve never read “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,” but I do completely understand the quote in that context because I had to research it when I played a role in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. (God, that was 10 years ago now 🙂 )

  • Bob,
    If I remember right, Nasri was offered a contract a long time ago, sometime during October last year. He insisted on seeing the season off before signing a new one and then lied about being disappointed at being offered a contract extension too late.
    So yes, that line of enquiry is not misplaced.
    Was Nasri more than a prospect? He was a full France international, though he had a miserable Euro 2008, where he suffered the ignominy of being a substituted substitute and was a vital player for Marseille. Obviously, he was nowhere near where he’s today.
    I wonder what Wenger thinks about all this. No doubt, it was painful for hi; poor man.

    Anne,
    A stage actress? That’s great. Which was your role? I just saw that Byron was a very important off-stage presence in that play.

  • Anne

    @Naren:

    I played Lady Croom. My character was having an affair with Byron 🙂

  • Clerkenwell Gooner

    Well, it’s certainly fascinating.

    As with the banksters, we grunts on the ground know that something ain’t right in the world of football finance. Too much shadow bankster shenanigins everywhere – who can forget the sterling Nick Levene at Leyton Orient?

    Always wondered why AW dropped Diarra like a hot potato (and Lass was a very good player at that point). I recall seeing it blogged somewhere as “AW found out something about Diarra that he didn’t know at the point when he bought him”. Later on, it turned out Diarra had a blood disorder that saw him quit the France squad for the 2010 World Cup. But his brief sojourn at Arsenal was still very odd, very uncommon.

    As for all the conspiracy chatter around the Marseilles-Tapie revenge-best-served-cold against Wenger, and Na$ri being a part of that, somehow I doubt it.

    $amir was born in 1987, and I imagine, as with so many of the youth of today, a football scandal that happened when he was six years old has as much meaning or interest for him as, well, the potential discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle.

    What may look like conspiracy is often usually cock-up, and while I can well imagine Na$ri stalling on any new Arsenal contract, knowing that Cesc was imminently off, waiting to see what offer he could squeeze out of the board and Wenger, and using that to ratchet up what he could get from $iteh, I just don’t see his departure from Arsenal as being part of a finely crafted complot, nurtured over years, vs Wenger-Primorac. Too many variables, including the arrival of oil do$h at Eastlands. (Also, Bernes, however despicable, did his bird, and as such, is permitted, I believe, to resume his professional life. Whether he should have been disbarred altogether is a matter for the French authorities and the French Football Federation.)

    $ami was a mercenary, no more, no less, and Cesc was a home-sick boy. Those two things happened to coincide, where the former could leverage the fact of the latter.

    I for one wish Lass Diarra would have stayed, but only if he was not a tax cheat. Anyone who ends up with Réal Madrid is not a bad player, after all.

  • Clerkenwell Gooner

    Lest we forget re: former Leyton Orient director Nick Levene:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/feb/01/nicholas-levene-city-financier-debts

    The Guardian has learnt that while Levene’s business operations were based in Panama, he had accounts in Monaco and Switzerland. Levene received substantial funds from a Gibraltar law firm called Hassan. Money from Hassan appears to have been invested in shares via spread bets and other investment portfolios. …

    Before being tracked down to the Priory last year, Levene failed to appear at critical court hearings to defend himself, prompting the courts to freeze assets and demand he surrender all passports. A court order noted he opened bank accounts in Northern Cyprus.

    My 2p-worth on Storrie:

    a) he has turned Queen’s evidence against Harry & co.

    b) he is holed up in the Priory with Nick Levene

    c) both of the above