By Tony Attwood
There is so much pouring out from the leaked documents concerning Uefa and Manchester City it is getting hard to follow it all. But if we thought the complexity was why a lot of the English media has stopped running the story, we were wrong. The media have been directly complicit in the cover up of at least one significant part of the story. Here’s how.
But, be warned, it is complicated, in that it involves several different organisations that I will have to introduce one by one.
The leaks are making it clear that Manchester City refused to heed numerous warnings given to it from multiple sources about getting involved with sponsorship from a construction company Arabtec that was accused by many international bodies of mistreating migrant workers. Even the Premier League expressed concerns about them.
Why would a middle east construction company sponsor Manchester City? You may well ask, but it becomes clear.
Because despite warnings, Man City’s Abu Dhabi owners pushed ahead with a £7m-a-year regional sponsorship contract.
And now at this point we have to bring in beIN Sport and Uefa, and the sponsorship arrangements within the deals going on.
beIn Sport is part of Al Jazeera which is based in Qatar and pays billions of dollars to Uefa to broadcast the Champions League games. beIN Sport is also owned by the same organisation as… PSG.
Such is the depth of beIN Sport’s sponsorship of Uefa that if it pulled out of the deal with Uefa (because of adverse publicity) that would leave Uefa on the edge of bankruptcy.
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So here we have beIN and PSG owned by Qatari royal family, while Manchester City are owned by the Abu Dhabi royal family – and the involvement of the notorious Arabtec.
The Arabtec story goes way back – there was a BBC report in 2009 about how awful it was in relation to the basic human rights of its workforce and the allegations have continued since. It is said that the Manchester City director of communications wrote, “The gap between what we do and what Arabtec do is unbridgeable.”
But there has been a deal with Arabtec for years as a way of getting more middle east money into Manchester City, yet it has deliberately been kept out of the UK press. The story has been out there and has been covered in the Russian media, suggesting that the UK media has been deliberately complicit in keeping the story out of the news. Even the photo of the Man City chief executive and the execs of Arabtec signing the deal was not published in the UK although it was available on line.
Then we come to Human Rights Watch who started to get very concerned about what was going on, and tried to see the contract between Manchester City Council and the club in 2013 – and found their way blocked. (You will recall that part of the original deal over handing over the Manchester City ground which was owned by the state to the club, included a deal in which the airline would make Manchester one of its hub airports.)
Moving on, for this is so much more it is becoming hard to keep up, there is a document showing that Pep Guardiola signed for Manchester City on 10 October 10 2015 while he still had eight months to run on his Bayern Munich contract. When this story began to surface the Manchester City press officer Simon Heggie is shown in the leaks to have written to the Sunday Mirror reporter who ran the piece telling him to remove it. He then wrote to other media sources and told them to ignore the story.
And they did. And now having been shown to be compromised throughout by following Manchester City’s instructions, the media are playing down or utterly ignoring the whole story coming out of Der Spiegel because within those stories is the revelation that many of them have been complicit in keeping the whole Arabtec and other stories out of the papers.
A corrupted club, corrupted Uefa, and a media that follows the instruction of Manchester City not to publish. Do you wonder why the leaks are getting so little coverage in most of the media in England?
Elsewhere other emerging elements of the story take us back to the the PSG case and the buying of Neymar for €222m, with Mbappé then taken “on loan” which seemed utterly ludicrous given that the general view was that his worth was around €180m. It was an obvious breach of FFP rules.
But in June the Club Financial Control Board of Uefa said PSG has complied with the rules for the three successive financial years 2014/15 to 2016/17. However then the head of the Club Financial Control Body (part of Uefa) asked for it all to be looked at again. However that seems to be uncertain. As to why Javier Tebas, the head of La Liga, however said Uefa will be very reluctant to take any action against Man C and PSG because of their financial power and position within Uefa. Which brings us back to beIN Sport and its sponsorship power over Uefa.
It’s all getting quite interesting.
There are a couple of papers that are still covering the story, and good for them, but for the majority, nope – they’ve been bought.
The story so far
- Bernstein on the governance of football; it doesn’t quite ring true
- Bloated or shrunken? How many of the top six clubs have used all 25 places??
- Signing Manor Solomon; how the post-Brexit rules on transfers are working
- Then and now: just how far have Arsenal fallen in the past 10 years?
- Arsenal v Palace: the team predictions