Tax Evasion And Cash Persuasion.

Published: Mar 18, 2014 14:25pm EDT
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Mar 18, 2014 @ 02:25pm EDT

 

There were two stories of interest breaking after the weekend and neither are very positive in the Worlds game. Obviously things have to be proven and cases are subject to appeal and so certain things cannot be said or insinuated. However I can comment on what has been brought to light and work out what it means for the future. The stories of course are the tax evasion conviction of Massimo Cellino and the fresh claim of a payment made to former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and his family from a company owned by Mohammed Bin Hammam.

 

I will get to that last story in a minute but first let me tackle this tax evasion case of the man in the process of buying Leeds United Football Club and the implications that may have on.

 

Tax Evasion:

 

Leeds United are a club which were once great but due to the mismanagement throughout the last few years now find themselves losing big money each week. Hope came in the form of a 57 year old Italian business man, who also owns Italian club Cagliari, and his interest in the club.

 

His conviction this week is just the latest in a line of brushes with the law and questions about his financial dealings. In 1996 he was convicted of deceiving the Italian Ministry of Agriculture of a few million and for false accounting in 2001. Now, in 2014, it could be a failure to pay import duty on his yacht which will spin the Yorkshire club into more financial uncertainty.

 

The takeover of the club means the man will have to pass the FA’s fit and proper persons test, which if this conviction is upheld, he will no doubt fail. Under normal circumstances this would mean the deal could not go through, handshakes follow and both parties go their separate ways. In this case though, Mr Cellino has been bankrolling the football club to a tune of almost $9 million, and he might want that back.

 

Leeds United, as it stands, are not in a situation to do this. In fact, over the years, has been on the downward spiral. In the same year Mr Cellino was being found guilty of false accounting, in Leeds Peter Risdale was taking out large loans against the potential revenues to be gained with participation in the Champions League. They failed to qualify and as a result failed to repay the loans on time. Rio Ferdinand was sold to Manchester United for $45 million in 2002, which was $30 million more than the actual club was sold for a couple of years later. Before the sale of the club Leeds had also had to sell their ground and training ground in a bid to save the club.

 

Fast forward ten years and the glory years of Don Revie have been long forgotten and the club which won the last Division One title before the Premier League started did, instead of roaring into Premiership domination, has whimpered out of the League, into administration, into the third tier and now, when there seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel for Leeds fans it turns out that it could be a freight train hurtling towards them.

 

Cash Persuasion:

 

News broke this week that ex FIFA vice-president, Jack Warner and his family were paid more than $1.5million by a company owned by ex-football official from Qatar, Mohammed Bin Hammam.

 

It was alleged that the payments were made after the controversial 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar. The 2022 World Cup is now under discussions about moving from its traditional summer time schedule due to the fact the temperatures get dangerously high in the region during the summer.

 

Bin Hammam was banned from FIFA in 2011, along with Warner, temporarily while they investigated accusations they offered financial incentives to certain members during the 2011 FIFA Presidential elections. Two months after that he was given a lifetime ban, which he appealed and was rejected by the committee. A year later the ban was annulled by the Curt of Arbitration for Sport.

 

The other player in this story, Jack Warner, is also not new to this type of story. Obviously he was temporarily suspended in 2011 by FIFA but the Trinidadian has had a whole list of accusations leveled at him over the years.

 

So what does this all mean? Well the Qatar World Cup Committee claim they know nothing about the whole incident, which could be true, but while the financial fair play rules are being implemented by UEFA for teams in Europe it seems the World governing body also has to looking at its own procedures and making sure the play fair, financially.

 

So what are FIFA themselves doing about this? Their chief ethics investigator, Michael Garcia, is investigating both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids. The fact that the investigation is being carried out in house I don’t think will put peoples minds at ease. Only an independent investigation of the organization will put minds at ease.

 


 

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Jason Bardwell
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