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Chair of the Court of Arbitration in Sport admits giving bribes

By Tony Attwood

In February this year Untold presented the case against the Court of Arbitration in Sport and against its ring-master, John Coates.

In that article, we pointed out that John Coates was in charge when Manchester City was let off the hook over its financial doings.   Mr Coates is also the outgoing president of the Australian Olympic Committee.  Australia will host the 2032 Olympic Games.  There was no competitive bidding process.

And now he has finally admitted that “to a large extent” Sydney was awarded the summer Olympic Games in 2000 because it “bought the Games” promising an extra $35,000 to each of the representatives of Kenya and Uganda, in return for their vote.  Although he later said there had been nothing “sinister” about the arrangement having previously denied the claims stating in a BBC programme in 2004 saying, “There were no payments made, letters were handed over with commitments to two African NOCs.”

And this is the man who is president of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.   

These “grants” as they were called were not outlawed until the corruption scandal surrounding Salt Lake City’s successful bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Coates admitted that he went to the two African delegates and said, “there’s $50,000 US  for each of your two National Olympic Committees, 10 a year for the next five years or whatever, you tell them it’s to be spent on sporting purposes…

“But subsequently one of those members was seen to have directed the 10 into his own bank account and there was an inquiry into all of that and so it’s suggested we bought the Games. Well to a large extent we did …”

According to the Guardian, “Lawyers acting for Coates said he had a long and distinguished reputation in the Olympic movement and the world of sport and expressed concern that the extracts had been taken out of context. 

Now my interest is not in any way related to whether it was taken out of context but to the fact that Mr Coates now runs the Court for Arbitration in Sport, and the fact that if there is a dispute between (for example) Uefa and Fifa, that would end up in the Court for Arbitration in Sport.   Just as the Uefa case against Manchester City did.

And as you may recall there was a rather curious development in that case.

I won’t go back and reiterate the whole tale, but in March 2018 we ran the headline Fifa’s war with Manchester City is deepening but much depends on how CAS react over that story, and then in July 2020 followed that with CAS reasons for siding with Manchester City make interesting reading.

I have made the point a few times that the secretive nature of the CAS proceedings (something that does not happen in most courts in the UK, where the openness of proceedings is highly valued) means that we can never really know what went on, and also admitted that Uefa lost the case against CAS not on a point of law but because Uefa ran out of time.

What was interesting in that case was that the judgement rejected the notion that Manchester City provided the evidence to show they were innocent.  Rather the CAS judgement says quite clearly Manchester City not only refused to provide evidence and witnesses but were overtly obstructive, and that there was a legitimate basis to prosecute the club.  The prosecution failed because Uefa allowed Manchester City time and in this regard were horribly naive.

But more to the point the CAS report showed that Uefa ran out of time because the club refused to co-operate by providing emails and documents when requested to do so, and refused to allow their executive staff to appear as witnesses.  As a result, the finding that Mansour had subsidised the sponsorship deal was “not established” because the evidence that would establish that fact was by then out of time.

Yet what was particularly interesting was the subsequent Manchester City statement that “This is a case initiated by Uefa, prosecuted by Uefa and judged by Uefa.”  But it wasn’t – it was judged by CAS run by a man who has now admitted to accepting payments in return for votes as to where the Olympics were to be held.

I am not sure that the UK media find that the slightest bit interesting because just as they support everything to do with the world cup and Fifa, they also support everything to do with the Olypmics, and in passing quietly accept any ruling handed down by the Court of Arbitration in Sport.   Which is overseen by a man with an interesting history.

4 comments to Chair of the Court of Arbitration in Sport admits giving bribes

  • Zedsaunt

    Thanks for that Tony. There are a few reports around about it, none carry the stamp of your eagle-eyed recognition.

  • Chris

    It highlights how sports bodies have become a state within the concert of nations, not abiding by any rule of law but their own.

  • Steve Vallins

    Tony you can’t be the only person to know this and see it ? The gravy train must spread very wide , far too much money involved to rock the boat on too many people .

  • allezkev

    The corruption is endemic, of Vladimir Putin proportion’s and it’ll continue that way until the fans turn away. I couldn’t give a toss about the Olympics or the World Cup, both of those bonanzas are dead to me, but there are plenty of people who still follow them and so it’ll continue. Thanks for the info.

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