The Dark Side Of Money And Sports…

In the Super Bowl of corruption, the two favorites are always the IOC and FIFA. Because of recent headlines, FIFA is the current favorite in that despicable contest. This morning there are reports that “the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee” – let the fact of the existence of such a body wash over you for just a moment here – had issued 8-year bans from any and all soccer related activities to Sepp Blatter and Michael Platini. Blatter was the guy who ran FIFA for the last umpty-squat years; Platini was the guy in charge of UEFA – the Union of European Football Associations. Adding just a pinch of irony here, Platini and Blatter were rivals in the soccer world; in the last FIFA election, Platini was one of the people who campaigned against Blatter citing the bad reputation FIFA had with Blatter in the driver’s seat. Now, both of them will be “off the pitch” so to speak. Platini was also one of the candidates angling to replace Blatter in the new FIFA election that will happen next year to replace Blatter after Blatter resigned several months ago.

This matter stems from an investigation that has roots in the Swiss Attorney General’s office and in the US Department of Justice. One of the matters at hand is an alleged “disloyal payment” involving millions of dollars made by FIFA to Platini for services nominally rendered by Platini about 15 years ago. The Swiss Attorney General alleges that Blatter knew of said “disloyal payment”. The FIFA Ethics Committee dusted off the FIFA Code of Ethics and discovered that there are sections within said Code dealing with Bribery and Corruption. To the surprise of many folks, those sections of the Code actually had negative things to say about bribery and corruption. Blatter and Platini were obviously surprised to learn of the negative aspects of the Code of Ethics with regard to bribery and corruption.

    Blatter is 87 years old. He has the right to appeal his banishment but let me assume for a moment that he chooses not to do that or that the ban is upheld. An 8-year ban for him is a lifetime ban for all practical purposes.

    Platini is 60 years old. He too can appeal this ruling. In any event, he will be able to return to the sport in whatever capacity he might carve out for himself at age 68. We may not have heard the last from or about him.

I mentioned above that the US Department of Justice was involved in an investigation of FIFA regarding an alleged bribe paid to FIFA of $100M by a now-defunct sports marketing organization called ISL. According to reports, a former FIFA official/employee/whistleblower/whatever told the FBI about the payment itself and that Blatter specifically knew of the payment/bribe.

We will rehash some if not much of this matter down the line when/if either Blatter or Platini appeals this banishment and/or when FIFA holds is new elections for a new major domo early in 2016. Until then, recall that the alleged bribes and payments involved in these investigations involve millions of dollars to Platini and $100M to FIFA and then consider that the Ethics Committee also fined these men the following amounts:

    Blatter was fined $50,000
    Platini was fined $80,000.

Those seem like an awfully small “cost of doing business” to me…

Dwight Perry had this comment in a recent column in the Seattle Times:

“Swiss government agents swept into a Zurich luxury hotel and hauled off 16 more FIFA officials on corruption charges.

“In lieu of arrest warrants, the feds stormed in holding up red cards.”

Let me switch gears here and talk about another sports-related situation involving money, a court proceeding and a former athlete. Clinton Portis was a running back for the Broncos and the Skins over a 9-year period. According to reports, he made over $40M in his career and he is now in bankruptcy court. Those proceedings reveal some details of his personal financial situation that would normally be hidden from sight and those details are strange indeed.

He owes creditors a tad over $4.8M; his income now consists of $3500 a month from the NFL in disability payments plus $1000 a month as a sideline reporter for Skins’ games on local broadcasts. That comes to $54K per year; even if every dime of that income went to pay the creditors, it would take almost 90 years to cover the debt – at 0% interest. That is not the strange aspect of this situation; bankruptcy always involves a huge imbalance of debts to assets. What is unusual in this case is the nature of the debts; this is a partial list:

    Portis owes a bit over $400K in domestic support payments to 4 different women.

    He owes about $400K in back taxes.

    He owes $1.2M in “mortgage deficiencies”.

    He owes $170K to the Borgata in Atlantic City

    He owes $287K to MGM Grand

    He owes $500K to a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight and CNN.

    He owes $500K to his mother.

The first five entries above are surprising in the sense that they are awfully large amounts of money in those “debt categories”; the last two entries above are simply unusual. As part of this filing there is another strange assertion for the court. Portis claims to have lost – and is trying to recover – $8M from a company that took his money and invested it in a casino venture that went belly-up. I know nothing about the details of that “investment” or anything about the company or the nature of the relationship between Portis and that company. Here is what I do know:

    It is really difficult to go broke running a casino.

Finally, sticking with matters involving sports and money, here is a comment from bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Loose change: Just in case Nick Saban’s $6.9 million yearly salary from Alabama isn’t enough to, you know, tide him over, he receives a $125,000 bonus for capturing the SEC title.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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