News 9th September 2015

Today’s sports integrity briefs…

Jeffrey Webb has been allowed by a US District Court in New York to return from New York to his home in Georgia while the case against him is being heard, reports Inside World Football. Webb pleaded not guilty to corruption charges in July after he was named as one of nine officials in the US Department of Justice’s 47-count indictment of individuals in connection to alleged corruption at FIFA.

Webb was extradited to the US earlier in July and restricted to living within 20 miles of New York where the case was being heard. He has now reportedly had his bail conditions altered after his legal team claimed that the ‘costs of living in New York City were proving unaffordable.’

FIFA’s flagship ‘Goal’ development programme, which funds football pitches for youth academies and playing surfaces in stadiums has come under scrutiny in a recent Reuters investigative report. In the report, despite acknowledging that there were clear examples where FIFA money had ‘made a difference in developing soccer in poorer countries’, it asserted that there were a number of places, including in Nepal and Pakistan, where ‘Goal’ resources ‘didn’t seem to have reached those they were aimed at or have not been properly managed.’

Reuters claims to have sent reporters to visit seven projects in Pakistan and Nepal that received FIFA money under its ‘Goal’ program. The report continued that the development projects that they had visited were ‘littered with half-built and under-used facilities, despite receiving more than $2 million from the sport’s world governing body this year alone.’

FIFA claims on its website that, since 1999 and the creation of the ‘Goal’ programme, ‘it has funded and concluded more than 1 000 football projects over the world.’ It boasts the creation of 253 technical centres, 149 football pitches and 149 headquarters under its programme. According to Reuters, FIFA declined to comment about the specific cases of Nepal and Pakistan for their article, but said that the majority of its ‘Goal’ projects around the world were successful.

• Former Olympic cycling and speed skating champion, Clara Hughes, has admitted that she committed a doping infraction early in her international cycling career but chose not to reveal the incident until now. In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Hughes, who has won six Olympic medals across both disciplines, said that she had tested positive for the then banned stimulatnt ephedrine following time trials at the 1994 cycling world championships in Sicily.

She maintains that she ‘has no idea how the stimulant got in her sample’ and that she knows that ‘I didn’t cheat’. The three-month suspension that was imposed as a result happened during the off season so Hughes was able to stay quiet about the matter, as originally advised, letting the infringement go unnoticed. Hughes is publishing a book on her experiences and decided to reveal the secret in a bid to ‘finally be completely honest.’

• The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) have reportedly refuted allegations that the late former OFC President and FIFA Executive Member Charlie Dempsey accepted a sum of almost $NZ400,000 (€230,000) to abstain from a key Fifa World Cup finals hosting vote in 2000.

A new book by investigative reporter Andrew Jennings, extracts of which have been published in the Daily Mail, claim that Dempsey left his hotel in 2000 with a briefcase containing $US250,000 (€225,000). This alleged bribe meant that he abstained from voting for South Africa to host the 2006 World Cup finals, which were awarded instead to Germany, as a direct result of Dempsey’s abstention.

OFC secretary general Tai Nicholas and former All Whites coach Kevin Fallon have reportedly both insisted Dempsey would not have accepted a bribe.

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