After their Below par season Liverpool are splashing the cash all around and this week have made their fifth close season signing, 23 year old Brazilian Roberto Fermion from German club 1899 Hoffenheim. £29m ‘Firmino’ is set to become Liverpool’s second most expensive signing ever after Andy Carroll, now with West Ham. The Brazilian, who has scored 49 times in 153 appearances in the Bundesliga for eighth-placed Hoffenheim was on target for his country in their 2-1 Copa America victory over Venezuela on Sunday. In the absence of Neymar who has been suspended for the rest of the tournament, Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, who is already a Liverpool player, are set to start again for Brazil in Saturday’s quarter final against Paraguay.
Liverpool have also signed highly rated 18 year-old Charlton defender Joe Gomez for £3.5, this coming hard on the heels of recruiting midfielder James Milner from Man City, striker Danny Ings from Burnley and Hungarian goalkeeper Adam Bogdan from Bolton. Gomez is an under 19 International with a big future and has agreed a five-year deal with the Premier League club. But the Reds have so far resisted two offers from Man City for England forward Raheem Sterling. Surely not another Luis Suarez saga in the making at Anfield – one pricey one out, five in for the same money – and more mediocrity – the fans won’t Kop that again.
Have you wondered why, if FIFA is based in Switzerland, and ‘saccar’ is not exactly an all-American sport, then why were the heavy-handed honchos of the American Police Force on an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe to arrest key members of FIFA in Zurich? After all, most Americans don’t even watch the beautiful game – but U.S. officials claim they have the jurisdiction to pursue corruption charges against some of the game’s top officials wherever. Have they? Try this for size from New York attorney Kelly Currie:
“This is a global investigation, and we live in a global marketplace: The world is not insular to a particular country any longer. And so, virtually any international business transaction crosses borders, and this is really no different.” Oh, really – does that mean ‘American’ law can be practiced and exported anywhere in the world? Is it any wonder America is detested in some parts of the world – some who might even be hosting the next World Cup – and the Yanks just don’t get it, do they?
The U.S. Justice Department announced the charges—including racketeering and bribery— displaying a 47-count indictment as well as several earlier guilty pleas. U.S. authorities said that nine FIFA officials and five sports media and promotions executives face corruption charges involving more than $150 million in bribes. Note the dollars – not euros, or pounds – the American Greenback is the self-styled world currency.
But American authorities say they are not simply acting as world police—despite the global nature of the alleged crimes. The ‘criminals’ are being extradited to the Good Ol’ US of A because, says Currie “This racketeering enterprise impacted the United States in a number of ways.” The name that keeps cropping up is Jack Warner, a man under deep suspicion of financial wrongdoing. The U.S. inquiry focuses on the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, whose Trinidadian former boss Warner was regularly dogged by accusations of corruption before he resigned in 2011.
Also the FBI are claiming that many of the people who were charged in the indictment either resided in the United States during some of the relevant period, or they conducted meetings regarding their supposed schemes in the United States. Fortunately, or conveniently the Swiss Federal Office of Justice agreed with Currie’s statements, where the U.S. request for extradition alleges that “these crimes were agreed and prepared in the U.S., and payments were carried out via U.S. banks.”
In addition to the above, but alternately to the American offensive, a separate Swiss investigation has also been launched in relation to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids – won by Russia and Qatar, respectively. The head of FIFA’s auditing and compliance committee, Domenico Scala, this month warned that Russia and Qatar could lose the right to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups IF evidence was found of corruption in the bidding process.
From Russia without love? It’s fair to say that the hosts for the World Cup in three years’ time aren’t exactly happy with all these events and charges. Russia has reacted with characteristic fury over speculation that the corruption investigation into FIFA could cost it the right to host the World Cup in 2018. Of course, the country stands to lose a massive amount if it all goes wrong, not only involving money but a huge degree of prestige and respect in the eyes of a suspicious world towards a country with many secrets.
Russian spokesmen were quick to say they would both co-operate with the investigations, while condemning them at the same time. Playing the political card, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the arrests of officials appeared to be an illegal attempt by the U.S. to impose its laws on foreign states. Hmm… have the Russians got a good point there? Let’s hear it from the top:
“Russia fought honestly for the right to host the 2018 World Cup and the decision should not be called into question. We fought in an honest manner… and we won. We do not think the decision should be questioned,” Russian Premier Vladimir Putin told journalists on the side-lines of an investment forum in Saint Petersburg. The president said “No evidence has been found of any corruption.” As Mandy Rice-Davis once famously said ‘Well, he would, wouldn’t he?’