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Showing posts from May, 2011

Tehran funeral of acclaimed Iranian soccer player turns into anti-government protest

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The funeral of a famous Iranian soccer player in Tehran’s Azadi stadium turned Tuesday into a mass protest against the government of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, according to an Iranian soccer fan who participated in the protest. A fan waves a photo of the defender, Nasser Hejazi, at he entrance to Azadi Stadium in Tehran (Source: France 24)
Writing on the website of France 24, the soccer fan identified only as Milad said that tens of thousands attended the funeral ceremony for Nasser Hejazi, an internationally acclaimed defender and outspoken critic of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Milad said in a rare occurrence some 1,000 women were allowed to be present during the ceremony. Iran bans women from stadiums in accordance with its strict segregation of genders in public places. Mourners chanted “Hejazi, you spoke in the name of the people” in a reference to Mr. Hejazi’s criticism of the Iranian president’s economic policies. Mr. Hejazi took Mr. Ahmadinejad in April publiclyto task for Iran’s gaping i…

Big corporate sponsors, chagrined at corruption scandal, urge FIFA to reform

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FIFA President Sepp Blatter displays the FIFA booklet 'My Game is Fair Play' as he addresses a news conference at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich. (File photo) By JAMES M. DORSEY
AL ARABIYA

Unions Press Qatar On Inhuman Labor Conditions

Qatar’s successful 2022 World Cup is being challenged on multiple fronts with trade unions demanding that the Gulf state prove that migrant workers building infrastructure for the tournament are not subject to inhuman conditions.
The focus on labour conditions comes as Qatar is fending off mounting allegations that it employed bribery to win its World Cup bid and days after Mohammed Bin Hammam, a Qatari national and senior world soccer executive, was suspended by world football body FIFA on suspicion of corrupt practices.
In a report released in advance of this week’s International Labour Conference in Geneva, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the world’s largest trade union, and Building Workers International (BWI), charged that the working and living conditions of mostly Asian migrant labour being used to build nine stadiums in 10 years as Qatar seeks to be the first Arab country to host the World Cup are unsafe and unregulated.
The unions called on FIFA President Se…

Arab soccer officials and media rally around Bin Hammam

Arab soccer officials and media rallied Monday around suspended, one-time world soccer body FIFA presidential candidate Mohammed Bin Hammam, a day after the organization’s ethics committee decided to launch a full-fledged investigation into allegations that he and three other officials had engaged in bribery to garner support for his candidacy.
Arab anger was reflected on the Qatari stock exchange as stocks declined amid fears that FIFA could cancel last year’s executive committee vote that awarded the Gulf state the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
Investor fears were sparked by an email sent by FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcker to North American and Caribbean soccer boss Jack Warner asserting that Qatar had bought its winning bid. Mr. Warner is one of the three officials besides Mr. Bin Hammam who was suspended by the ethics committee. Mr. Valcker’s email fuelled mounting allegations that Qatar had employed bribery in its World Cup bid campaign and suspicions that Mr. Bin Hammam …

Yemen’s ruling GPC stands to win with and without President Saleh

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Mr. Saleh is showing no inclination to leave office before his term ends in 2013. (File photo) By JAMES M. DORSEY

AL ARABIYA
Amid talk in the Yemeni capital Sana’a about how long President Ali Abdullah Saleh can cling to power, one thing seems certain: not much will really change if and when he goes.

Deep divisions among his opponents are likely to ensure that Mr. Saleh’s ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) will retain power whether or not the president is around to lead it. GPC’s positioning is also enhanced by divisions within the armed forces with key units commanded by members of the president’s family loyal to the president. The split in the military has moreover deprived Yemen of a powerful institution that like in the case of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could tell Mr. Saleh authoritatively that it is time to go.

As a result, Mr. Saleh is showing no inclination to leave office before his term ends in 2013. He has several times backed out of a deal negotiated by the S…

Bin Hammam blasts FIFA decision to suspend him

One-time world soccer body FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam has blasted a decision by the body's ethics committee to suspend him alongside three other soccer officials on suspicion of bribery, charging that the committee had not applied fair play.
Mr. Bin Hammam, a Qatari national, said in a statement that he did not understand the logic the suspension given that the committee had not been found guilty of wrongdoing.
The committee is investigating bribery charges that Mr. Bin Hammam and the other officials had sought to buy the votes of members of the Caribbean Football Union for the Qatari’s presidential candidacy.
The committee said the suspension was not a verdict of innocent or guilty but was based on its conclusion that there was the appearance of an infringement of FIFA’s code of ethics. The officials were suspended until the committee completes a full investigation, probably in July.
The committee meanwhile pronounced FIFA president Sepp Blatter innocent of accusa…

FIFA temporarily bans Bin Hammam but clears Blatter of corruption charges

The ethics committee of world soccer body FIFA has temporarily banned from any soccer activity Asian Football Confederation (AFC) chief Mohamed Bin Hammam, Jack Warner the head of the North American and Caribbean soccer association CONCACAF and two Caribbean Football Union executives on suspicion of bribery.
The committee cleared FIFA president Sepp Blatter of having had knowledge of the alleged bribery and having failed to report it. The decision paves the way for Mr. Blatter to stand as the sole candidate in FIFA presidential elections scheduled for June 1 after Mr. Bin Hammam withdrew his candidacy hours before Sunday’s committee hearing.
Ethics committee deputy chairman Petrus Damaseb said the committee had taken its decision on the basis that the four individuals were “innocent until proven guilty.” Mr Damaseb said the committee’s task in Sunday’s hearing was not to determine guilt or innocence but to establish whether there had been an infringement of the FIFA code of ethics. He s…

US-Saudi differences over Iran widen emerging gulf between longtime allies

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Saudi King Abdullah (L) and US President Barack Obama (R) in Riyadh on June 3, 2009. (File photo) By JAMES M. DORSEY
AL ARABIYA

Bin Hammam withdraws from FIFA presidential race amid fresh allegations against Qatar

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) chief Mohamed Bin Hammam has withdrawn his candidacy in world soccer body FIFA’s presidential election that is mired by accusation of corruption against Mr. Bin Hammam and incumbent Sepp Blatter.
Mr. Bin Hammam’s announcement in a statement on his website came hours before he, Mr. Blatter and three other FIFA officials are scheduled to be questioned in Zurich on Sunday by FIFA’s ethics committee. Mr. Hammam’s surprising decision is believed to have been taken in consultation with his lawyers with whom he has been huddled for the past 48 hours. British newspaper The Sunday Times said hours after Mr. Bin Hammam’s withdrawal that it had seen fresh evidence of Qatari wrongdoing in its successful bid to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
“Recent events have left me hurt and disappointed,” Mr. Bin Hammam, a Qatari FIFA executive committee member said. “The game itself and the people who love it around the world must come first. It is for this reason t…

Bin Hammam withdraws from FIFA presidential race

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) chief Mohamed Bin Hammam has withdrawn his candidacy in world soccer body FIFA’s presidential election that is mired by accusation of corruption against Mr. Bin Hammam and incumbent Sepp Blatter.
Mr. Bin Hammam’s announcement in a statement on his website came hours before he, Mr. Blatter and three other FIFA officials are scheduled to be questioned in Zurich on Sunday by FIFA’s ethics committee. Mr. Hammam’s surprising decision is believed to have been taken in consultation with his lawyers with whom he has been huddled for the past 48 hours.
“Recent events have left me hurt and disappointed,” Mr. Bin Hammam, a Qatari FIFA executive committee member said. “The game itself and the people who love it around the world must come first. It is for this reason that I announce my withdrawal from the presidential election.”
Bitter infighting between Mr. Blatter, who has head FIFA for the past 13 years, and Mr. Bin Hammam, a Qatari national with close ties to th…