From Sepp Blatter to Davor Šuker. Strange goings on in European football

By Joe with additional material by Tony Attwood
Just on one year ago the Arsenal History Society published the article Davor Šuker: a passing whim, a giant among players, or something sinister?
In that article we reported that in July 2012 Davor Šuker had become president of Croatian Football Federation.We added that he also worked with Dino Pokrovac as a football agent until Poklrovac, who was first attacked when he car was blown up, was subsequently killed on 11 June 2005 in what the excitable media called a mafia styled execution in Zagreb.
Some uncorroborated reports suggest Dino Pokrovac was involved also in money lending.  Davor Suker was inevitably questioned by police.In a completely separate incident Davor Suker was reported on 5 October 2011 to have been fined in Munich anything between £7000 and £21,000 (depending on which report you read) for taking a collection antique coins off a plane after a passenger accidentally left them behind in February.
He was caught after his friend asked an expert about their value.
And now, after Sepp Blatter has been forced to resign from the place of the Lifelong Emperor And Chairman (now abbreviated to LEACH) of Fifa,  one of the more bizarre things that hasn’t really had too much attention has been the naming ex-Arsenal striker and president of Croatian FA Davor Šuker in the Uefa Executive Committee. Šuker – who has been received among many neutral supporters in Croatia as a puppet in the hands of the real master of Croatian football Zdravko Mamić.  It is, to put it mildly, a controversial choice.
First of all, Uefa claim that they are very much against racism. As you might have read, Šuker has been report as taking photographs at the grave of Ante Pavelić, a head of the “Independent State of Croatia”, a puppet-state that had existed between 1941 and 1945 thanks to Hitler’s and Mussolini’s help. Pavelić’s state didn’t last long but it left hundreds of thousands murdered, massacred and from-Orthodox-to-Catholicism violently converted people. Only recently German journalists have raised some concerns about Šuker’s scandalous inclusion into Uefa’s body.
Of course these are reports, and Untold can’t verify them – all we can do is report the various comments and then ask that Uefa investigates and publishes a full report so we can all be reassured everything is above board.
Second, Uefa claim that they are very much against corruption. Reports about Šuker, again, suggest he doesn’t send out quite the right anti-corruption messages. There is an on-going trial against Željko Širić.  The case is currently in appeal, and no final ruling has been made, but in the first hearing he was convicted by the court for taking money in exchange for, read it carefully because you might miss the irony, “honest refereeing”.
Now to explain the possible Šuker connection, we need to look at some background.  Again, some of what we have here might not be right – but that is why we need clarification, so any misleading information can be cleared out of the way, and everyone can be reassured that everything is as it should be.
Hrvoje Maleš, who had been in charge at Hajduk Split, the arch-rivals of Dinamo Zagreb, was used as an undercover agent during investigation as he had paid for “an honest referee”. Stjepan Djedović, who was in charge of the refereeing, pleaded guilty in order to get lighter sentence. As you might have guessed, Hajduk have been on the wrong end of the referees’ mistakes for a decade.
What is “honest refereeing” that they had been offered by Širić? Well, according to the Croatian journalists, Širić promised Maleš that Hajduk would get non-biased referees instead of well-known biased referees for their games in exchange for money.  Quite possibly we are going to have to invent a new nomenclature for this.  Reverse match fixing perhaps.
Now, here’s where Šuker gets involved.  After Širić was given his sentence, Šuker was reportedly seen in Širić’s company…in the church…in the company of the Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.  Of course there is nothing illegal with being seen in the company of someone who has just been found guilty of a crime, and even criminals are allowed to worship, but a person who is looking to hold an office of some importance normally tries to avoid such situations.
Now, Šuker’s position in Croatia might be jeopardized as well. According to the latest reports, Zdravko Mamić and his brother have been involved in serious tax-related crimes and you know how it goes.
To name all irregular things Mamić Brothers have been accused of would take a few days. Some of them are visible with a naked eye. For example, NK Lokomotiva Zagreb, essentially a feeder club for Dinamo Zagreb, play at the same level as Dinamo. Results between Lokomotiva and Dinamo speak for themselves – I think Lokomotiva have taken a single point over the years or so – but it’s OK for everyone in Croatian FA to have such a situation in which Dinamo have 12 points (clubs play four time against each other in Croatian league) before the season starts.
If such allegations are true, (and we must stress that we are just relaying what others are saying, not making allegations) it’s no wonder Dinamo have been winning Croatian league for a decade. Indeed Dinamo haven’t lost a league race for a decade and they won their last title without a single defeat. Of course Arsenal did that, and we’ve not suggested anything was amiss there, so we have to be consistent.  Yet their stadium is comparatively empty because of the fans who see what’s going on.  Besides European campaigns of Dinamo have been the best proof of their real quality.
But, Mamić might have gone too far, if these allegations are true. It seems that irregularities regarding transfers of Luka Modrić to Tottenham (among the other events) might end his reign. Among the other accusations (and they are just accusations, we are not saying any of this happened) there is bribing the tax-officer (who has been arrested), and there was a part of the deal that took Modrić to Tottenham (a deal which it is alleged involved half of the transfer fee would go to Modrić).
However it is also reported, there was a contract annex that said Modrić forfeited all the money he should have received by the contract. The thing is, that forfeited money had to go somewhere. Damir Vrbanović, who has been one of the most influential people in Uefa and another Dinamo (which could well mean Mamić’s) man, has been arrested by Croatian police today due to his involvement in the case.
Šuker is not the only former Arsenal No.9 that has been connected with Mamić in some way. Eduardo da Silva was sued by Mamić as he had signed a contract in 2001 with Mamić. According to some comments, the clause in that contract, Mamić had rights on 20 percent of all Eduardo’s income. Thankfully, the court ruled that clause was void and Mamić lost.
Meanwhile we hear that Vrbanović will stay in custody for a month while Mamić brothers were apprehended this morning.
In the commentaries on Untold about PGMO and possible referee corruption in England, we have endlessly asked for openness and when there are odd tendencies and patterns, open investigation.  The same must apply anywhere in football where there are allegations of improper behaviour, and this is surely the time for Michel Platini to act.
Maybe Šuker is a perfectly straight guy who ought to be in office, but with these allegations flying around we ought to be assured by a proper and open enquiry.

The books

11 Replies to “From Sepp Blatter to Davor Šuker. Strange goings on in European football”

  1. “Honest refereeing”. Terrific! So the suggestion is that all matches not paid for get a dishonest one.
    Sad to see an ex Arsenal player accused in this way..

  2. This is just the start, Blatter is going down, but many will go down with him unless there is some sort of deal or amnesty. Blatter is now saying that the French and German leaders put pressure to ensure Qatar got the WC for economic reasons. I don’t usually believe a word blatter says, but this has at least a whiff of possible truth about it. Platini voted Qatar, and this year , the French UEFA delegate voted Blatter. Think it was ruminigge who was stopped at the airport travelling from Qatar…..with a few highly expensive watches, he would not say where they came from.
    Then, there is our FA and perhap those beyond that.
    Have never been sure what is worse….gangsterism or mature Western democracy realpolitik , at least the former makes less pretensions.

  3. Not related to Davor Suker but Dinamo Zagreb conveniently lost 7-1 to Platini’s compatriots Olympique Lyon in the 2011-12 Champions League. Lyon had to win by a 5 or 6 goal margin to overtake Ajax for the second place in the group stage. It could of course just have been a clear difference in quality between the two teams but it makes one wonder…

  4. @Kentetsu – excellent example.

    Before the final match Ajax had had a three-point-advantage over Lyon and a goal-difference 6:3. Lyon had a goal-difference 2:6. Head-to-head wouldn’t decide who would progress in case of the same number of points as both matches between the sides ended 0:0. So, Lyon needed a victory, a defeat of Ajax and a goal-swing of at least eight goals.

    Ajax hosted Real Madrid while Lyon took the trip to Maksimir. Ajax conceded the first goal of the game but replied with two perfectly good goals. For the reasons unknown to anyone but to the referee Jorge Sousa and his linesmen, both Ajax goals were disallowed. Higuain added second goal for Real before the half-time.

    But, it was still good result for Ajax as Lyon couldn’t get more than 1:1 before the break against ten-men-Dinamo Zagreb and the Croatian side even scored the first goal of the game through Mateo Kovačić before Gomis’ equalizer.

    So, at the break standings were like this:

    2.Ajax 6:5 8
    3.Lyon 3:7 6

    Then, something incredible happened. Lyon scored six goals in the space of 30 minutes (!) which means they scored a goal every five minutes. Gomis scored three more goals. After one of those, Domagoj Vida, Dinamo’s central defender, was caught on camera while winking at Gomis.

    After Lyon scored their seventh goal of the game, they put the foot off the gas and the game ended 1:7.

    Meanwhile, Ajax tried to return to the game but they just managed to concede another one in the injury-time.

    The final standing:

    2.Lyon 9:7 8
    3.Ajax 6:6 8

    And that was it.

  5. Is this the same Gomis who plays for Swansea? It is not too late for a probe into the accounts of teams & players & I’m sure someone will be tempted to sing for a suitable reward,

    I hate cheats!! They destroy all that is good in human competition. Drug cheats should be banned for life & all winnings/earnings confiscated.

  6. Josif, thank you for giving the full recount as I had forgotten the specifics. It was even worse than I remembered.

  7. Yes, it’s the very same Bafetimbi Gomis. Who knows, maybe Lyon just wanted to punish Dinamo for the fact Dinamo had sold them Dejan Lovren.

    Šuker has already stated his support for Mamić Brothers which leads me to conclusion that if the court finds two of them guilty, Šuker should immediately resign, at least for his lack of judgement what is right and what is wrong in Croatian football.

    And, as you might have read, there is another disciplinary case against Croatian FA following the drawing of Nazi-swastika at Poljud. Now, there are people who claim that it was a diversion made by Hajduk Split fans in order to punish Šuker through punishing Croatian FA – if Croatian national team gets suspended, the FA won’t earn money and neither Šuker nor Mamić won’t be able to collect golden eggs anymore through the national team. (Dinamo players won’t be able to raise their price through the national team – as simple as that.)

    Speaking of Balkan football, there are unconfirmed stories about “three for three”-type of match-fixing. As it was stated in this article, it’s impossible to make allegations without evidences aside from weird results and high percentage of home victories.

    What is a “three for three”?

    Two clubs make a deal: club A will win their home match and club B will win in the reverse fixture. That’s how clubs avoid draws where one point gets lost.

    Also, there is a concept of, let’s call it “investing in the future”. Club A is safe but club B needs points to avoid relegation. Club A “surprisingly” loses their direct clash (pretty much like Liverpool surprisingly lost to Manchester United in 1914-15) against the relegation battlers but next season club B, if they don’t need points, returns the favour.

    I have read an article where a correspondent from certain place in Bosnia made accusations against the visitors who had failed to roll over in order to complete “three-for-three”-deal which caused relegation to the home club. It was a scandalous way for the correspondent to accuse someone for actually giving their best on the pitch as every club in the world is supposed to do in every game but it seems nobody cared enough to check what the hell had happened at the first place.

  8. How I miss Yugoslavia!

    I wonder if Arsenal have ever been approached to pay for ‘honest refereeing’ – and refused? Just a thought.

  9. Reminds me of a Turkish taxi driver flying through red lights, when asked why? He answered ‘Me good driver’. Eventually there was a green light, whereupon he slows down & looks either way before flying through. ‘Why did you slow down?’ I asked.
    ‘Other good drivers!’ was his reply.

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