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By Tony Attwood
Although it may feel like it, the issue of SuperLeague is not quite dead, as there is one final hearing left as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona take Uefa to court in the very last possible episode of the saga on 21 December.
The issue is simply whether Uefa runs an illegal monopoly in European football, or whether its monopolistic powers are perfectly legitimate.
Uefa’s case is that it can do what it likes since it has a monopoly, and the courts generally agreed with this last year saying that the normal competition rules that prohibit monopolies should not apply in this case. It also added that this meant that Uefa could legitimately punish rebel clubs such as Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The clubs that went into Superleague and then came out again (including of course Arsenal) were largely moved to change their position after fan protests and media engagement against the move for a SuperLeague, but since then there has been some movement against Uefa and Fifa and the FA following the scandal of chaos at the Champions League final in 2022 – and the Euro 2020 final at Wembley all fully organised by Uefa of course.
And despite the media’s kowtowing to Fifa, there were a lot of people very unhappy about the World Cup in Qatar with the constant allegations of appalling conditions and work practices imposed on the people who built the stadia.
Since then there has been a growing concern with the way Saudi Arabia has moved into the field with its new league, in preparation for a bid for the World Cup, which it is widely expected to walk away with.
The 2015 Fifa corruption scandal also left its mark. Here over 25 Fifa officials were accused of bribery in relation to awarding the world cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.
Of course the problems of Fifa corruption go back to far earlier although the modern run of corruption might be dated back to 2002 when the Fifa secretary general Michel Zen-Ruffinen revealed documents showing that Sepp Blatter was engaged in what was euphamisitcally called “misleading accounting practices.”
Fifa weathered that storm but in 2010 the FBI arrested Chuck Blazer on fraud, tax evasion and money laundering charges. Blazer pleaded guilty.
Since then Fifa has tended to become more aggressive in defending itself as when Andrew Jennings put forward a case against Sepp Blatter, but no action was taken. Jennings then published “Foul! The Secret World of FIFA”: followed by a TV documentary on the corruption charges that aired in 2015.
The same year the US Department of Justice issued a major indictment against Fifa executives concerning bribery charges going back over 20 years. This was the moment Untold got involved, by pointing out on this blog that the Swiss had been persuaded to change the law which had previously allowed people to attend meetings of international sports bodies based in Switzerland without fear of arrest.
We pointed out the change could have quite significant consequences, and so it turned out when the Americans turned up and arrested seven Fifa men accusing them of having received bribes. The January 2015 piece Switzerland take a greater interest in Fifa – at last is still on line if you want to go back and read the warning they all ignored.
That affair resulted in seven arrests and multiple charges of racketeering 2015 and was the moment that consistent criminality within Fifa was revealed. Also revealed was the fact that it has around $3 billion worth of assets and $1.5 billion worth of reserves much of it seemingly gained from corruptly selling TV broadcasting rights to the World Cup.
As the Britannica football corruption article reveals the report by US attorney Michael Garcia revealed the culture of Fifa to be “founded on greed, secrecy, and corruption. FIFA declined to publish those findings, however, instead releasing a 42-page summary that made little mention of wrongdoing and none in regard to the World Cups controversy.”
Eventually Jérôme Valcke, FIFA’s secretary-general was banned for 12 years as was Kattner the deputy secretary general. Vice President Chung Mong Joon was banned for six years. Blatter then got another six year ban.
Now given all of this, and of course this is the briefest of summaries, it is surprising that so many media outlets managed to whip up a storm against Super League, which was an attempt to break away from the corruption of Fifa.
Also interesting is that there has been virtually no negative comment in the English media about Fifa since the above events happened. There was very little criticism of the Qatar World Cup for example and only a few outlets followed up on the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar.
Likewise, there has been little questioning in the media of the move towards more tournaments including England being involved in bidding for them.
Perhaps equally interesting the same British media have no interest in questioning the oddities of refereeing under PGMO in the Premier League.
It does seem that where it comes to corruption in football, the media really don’t want to know. Just as they were not interested in that change of Swiss law that allowed the Americans to come in and arrest the top Fifa people in 2015.
From my perspective, it is a tragedy that so many supporters told their clubs not to join together into Super League, for that was probably the best chance we have had for a generation to overthrow the corruption in Fifa and Uefa.
So we ask, why were they so opposed to a venture that would remove much of the power base of Fifa and Uefa? Just as we ask, why don’t they look into PGMO?
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