It was the best of trials. It was the worst of conferences.

It was the best of trials. It was the worst of conferences. Lets start with the best. In Paris, last week, a proverbial rocket hit the world of sport. The former head of the International Athletic Association Federations (IAAF) - Lamine Diack - was convicted of collecting millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.The actual scheme was shocking. Diack, along with many of his top aides - including his ‘thug’ son (his words) - was running a racket where athletes,...

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How to Survive an International Sports Integrity Conference

You ain’t in Kansas anymore Dorothy. Back in the day, international sports integrity conferences - like Play the Game, happening right now in Colorado Springs - were jovial affairs where independent journalists, saddened whistle-blowers and beleaguered sports officials could meet, chat, drink and sometimes dance. Now, everything has changed. Sports are battle grounds of geopolitical soft power. Hard power is the idea that you can conquer another country with tanks, planes and lots of death. Soft power is the idea that you can...

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Beauty, Chaos and Tales of Match-Fixing at the Africa Cup of Nations

For those who have not been following the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2019), it has been a classic example of the beauty and chaos of Africa’s football world. “In French football you know that 10% of the money will disappear, in African football it is 90%” Joseph Antoine Bell, ex-Cameroon, Olympique de Marseille and Girondins de Bordeaux goalkeeper. Beauty in the extraordinary talent and athleticism of the players. Given their abilities and the capacity of many of the indigenous coaches (try...

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Zombie Organizations: Interpol, WADA and now FIFA?

As the New Year dawns across the sports integrity world, there are a number of vast zombie organizations staggering across the corporate landscape like half-dead creatures. They have no life, energy or drive. They have given up their fundamental purpose.Their leadership has failed them. They are the institutional living dead. First, let us be fair, many good, decent people work for them. They are trying to do the best they can in difficult circumstances. This article is not an...

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The Sporting Scandals of the Season

It is in the dog days of summer that the dirty deeds get done. A good habit for European and North American investigative journalists is to check government press releases at the beginning of the July 1st/4th weekend and the Friday before the Christmas Holidays. For it is then, when most people are rushing out the door for their holidays, that bad news emerges from guilty corporations, complicit government departments and cunning media spokes people. In sports corruption, the equivalent are...

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Why the Match Fixers are at the World Cup in Russia

The hot tub of World Cup match-fixing This article first appeared on playthegame.org Potential corruption and match-fixing at the World Cup is aided by corrupt national football association officials, . FIFA’s ‘often odd’ attitude towards these officials protects the fixers at the World Cup. Uncle Frankie, the match-fixer, sat in the hot tub with players from the Swedish World Cup team. It was in a Los Angeles Hotel before their third-place match with Bulgaria at the 1994 World Cup. Uncle Frankie offered the...

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Poor, Old Qatar: labour conditions and the compromised fight against match-fixing

The timing could not be better. Just as the sporting world endures another hot-air session a.k.a. an international conference on match-fixing sponsored by the Qatar 2022 World Cup Committee, out comes a new report on labour conditions in Qatar and the building of the World Cup infrastructure and stadiums. The report,  by the external company charged by FIFA to monitor workers' conditions, makes for sobering reading. It seems – no surprise – that despite all the words, all the clichés, all the high-level negotiations...

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FIFA Corruption: “Friends in the media”

The FIFA Corruption trial in Brooklyn is over now comes the question who really broke the story of high-level bribery and corruption in international soccer? Clue – it was not the sport journalists.  “The ladies and gentlemen of the press came a great deal cheaper than an Olympic Committee member. If their              potential accreditation to World Cup 98 did not fully concentrate their collective minds, there were always the freebies. The one thousand one hundred and eight-one (sic) journalists milled...

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It’s a Mob Trial: FIFA in America

New York - Here at the Brooklyn Federal Court House, one of the most significant legal trials in sports history is underway.  Two-and-a-half years ago, Swiss Police kicked open the doors of the Baur-au-Lac Hotel in Zurich and began arresting high-ranking FIFA officials.  After long stretches of legal wrangling - during which twenty-four officials pled guilty to a wide-range of crimes from fraud to money laundering to racketeering - today, the case for the officials who did not plead...

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The Greatest Case of Commercial Blindness in the History of Sports Integrity

There are all kinds of examples of inappropriate blindness. There was Captain Smith of the SS Titanic not seeing the iceberg. There was Admiral Nelson putting the telescope to his eye patch not to see the signal to retreat. There was Johnny Papalia the mafia thug who beat up the head of Toronto’s illegal gambling racket in front of two-hundred people in a crowded restaurant and when the police arrived none of the patrons said they saw anything. Then there...

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