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FIFA | Skins | Sepp BlatterThe parody newspaper, International Herald Tribune, published by Skins chairman Jaimie Fuller (above) made some cannily accurate predictions.
July 2015

Skins predicts FIFA changes

Six days before it actually happened, the International Herald Tribune, a parody newspaper published by Skins chairman Jaimie Fuller, reported that Sepp Blatter would resign as FIFA president and that the former CONCACAF ruler Jack Warner would threaten to tell all

The newspaper scoop on the FIFA scandal so far belongs to an unusual publisher: Skins compression brand. Their International Herald Tribune (IHT), a parody newspaper published on 27 May, reported that Sepp Blatter would resign — six days before he actually made the announcement!

True, the IHT said Blatter would step down in a year, while he gave himself 6-9 months before an extraordinary meeting will elect his successor. Now, Skins chairman Jaimie Fuller is predicting that Blatter would NOT step down ... therefore, watch the press.

Another story was spot-on and the headline tells all: Jack Warner’s “Tsunami”. ‘I Could Reveal How Much Blatter Pays Himself’. This story was published with a picture of Warner with Chuck Blazer when he and the FBI whistleblower were still good friends. At the time of going to press, everybody was waiting to hear how much of his threat to reveal all Warner was prepared to carry out.

The IHT was published by Skins chairman Jaimie Fuller on the same day that the world woke to the news that 14 FIFA officials had been arrested by the FBI — and the corruption revelation floodgates opened.

As media houses rush to keep up with all the latest FIFA-related accusations and denials, one can but wonder if some of the other articles in the IHT would also turn out to be scoops — for example those headlined: Blatter Discusses Re-Running World Cup Votes For 2018 And 2022 and United Nations Intervene To Make FIFA Finances Transparent. Another story, Fifa Partners Make Shock Threat To Quit “Unless There Is Radical Reform” was a bit over-optimistic, although at the time of going to press, there were some potential developments on this front: a representative of smaller adidas investors told the Welt am Sonntag that they want the company to consider walking out of strategic deals with the scandal-shaken FIFA.

The German newspaper also reported that Hans-Martin Buhlmann believes that adidas needs to pressure FIFA for structural reform because as an employer, adidas cannot expect a lawful attitude from its staff, while the corporation entertains strong ties with an organization which is allegedly corrupt.

After Blatter’s presumed resignation, adidas issued a statement saying: We welcome FIFA's commitment to change. As stated before, the adidas Group is fully committed to creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics and compliance. Today's news marks a step in the right direction on FIFA's path to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do.

But, there are several indications that Mr Blatter will not be going voluntarily. He moved from adidas to FIFA in the 1970’s after he was schooled by adidas founder Horst Dassler in the many benefits brands and federations and athletes could enjoy through sponsorships. The lucrative partnerships he introduced have kept numerous soccer officials in a lifestyle that they had never dreamed of before. There are therefore many millions of reasons why a large chunk of the voting FIFA family would not want Blatter to be replaced by some reform-minded individual. And why they definitely would not welcome an independent review of the body’s affairs by someone like Kofi Anan, as #NewFIFANow campaigners, including Fuller, are asking.

The responsibility of sponsors to ensure that they are associated with sporting bodies and events that share their ethical values, and adhere to their codes of conduct, is a subject close to Fuller’s heart. “We believe FIFA’s partners and sponsors should be asserting their own values to ensure FIFA operates in a way that ensures football, like all sport, is a vehicle for positive social change. In Qatar, where migrant workers are literally dying on the job, it isn’t.”

In May Skins joined forces with the international workers’ unions and the pressure group #NewFIFANow to draw attention to the exploitation of workers building the stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar. “Our activity is also focused on FIFA’s sponsors and partners who, so far, have failed to uphold their own levels of corporate social responsibility and pressurise FIFA into action,” Fuller said.

FIFA | Skins | Sepp Blatter
UK investigative journalist Andrew Jennings is the narrator in the Skins video on the exploitation of Qatari workers building World Cup stadiums. Shortly after the YouTube video launch, it became known that Jennings’ reporting helped the FBI to build the corruption case against the FIFA CONCACAF executives (the soccer region the US belongs to) they arrested last month. Jennings’ books (Foul! and Omertà — Sepp Blatter’s FIFA Organised Crime Family) alerted the FBI to the millions of dollars in bribes, etc. paid to FIFA officials and led to the arrest of Chuck Blazer and other whistleblowers. Jennings is an award-winning journalist who has written numerous articles on FIFA, even though he is banned from their press conferences.

“Qatar is a slave state in the 21st century,” Sharan Burrow, the General Secretary for the International Trade Union Confederation, said during the press conference.

“The Football Supporters’ Federation is fully behind us and fans everywhere will be shocked to learn how workers in Qatar are treated. The World Cup is supposed to be a celebration of all that is good in sport. However, as things stand, more than 62 workers will die for each game played during the 2022 tournament,” added Stephen Russell of the UK Trade Union Congress-backed group Playfair Qatar.

Fuller had gone underground in Qatar to film a short cell phone video of the squalid living conditions in the labour camps and the effects of kafala labour law.

This video clip accompanies a 5-minute video titled The Hypocrisy World Cup, in which journalist Andrew Jennings (see below) points out that twenty years ago brands accepted responsibility for sweatshop conditions in their factories and made a huge difference to workers’ rights in Asia — and he suggests they should take the same responsibility to act against the worker abuses in Qatar.

He also compares the stated corporate values of FIFA sponsors like Coca Cola, McDonald’s, adidas, Visa, Kia and Budweiser to what their money are actually buying. In his blog Fuller suggests some messages fans could send to the CEO’s of the World Cup sponsors, to remind them that their money is paying for abuses — with their twitter and email addresses.

The Ugly Game by Sunday Times investigative journalists Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert is the latest book to document the corruption that has been plaguing the football governing body for years. The subtitle, The Qatari Plot to Buy the World Cup explains the storyline, with Mohammed bin Hammam, the president of the Asian Football Association until he was caught bribing South American officials to vote for him as the next FIFA president, as the lead character.

These allegations of corruption prompted FIFA to launch an investigation by the chair of its Ethics Committee, Michael Garcia. When his report was shelved and a cleansed summary published, Garcia resigned in protest. This was one of the factors that lead to the formation of the action group #NewFIFANow.

Even before the arrests of the FIFA officials, more than 11 000 respondents to a survey by #NewFIFANow, said that the corruption allegations and governance and management of FIFA, followed by Qatar 2022, are the top issues in world football today.

Most (97%) of the respondents said they had lost confidence in the administration and governance of FIFA, but did not believe that Sepp Blatter would step down.

Most also believed the bids for Russia (88%) to host the World Cup in 2018 and Qatar (97%) in 2022 were corrupt.


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