Falling out of love with FIFA and the FVF (Updated)

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The late comandante presidente and the disgraced FVF chairman Rafael Esquivel, at the Copa America 2007.

The FIFA scandal continues to dominate headlines worldwide, particularly after Sepp Blatter announced on Tuesday he would step down after being reelected for a fifth term four days earlier.

Venezuela is right at the center of the scandal, as Rafael Esquivel, the head of our football federation for the last 27 years, was one of the FIFA members arrested in Zurich. He’s still in jail, facing possible extradition to the U.S.

Here at home, the Fiscalía (Prosecution) is getting in on the act: freezing Esquivel’s bank accounts, and last night, raiding the HQ for the FVF in Caracas using Military Intelligence agents.

The FVF’s new chairman, Laureano González, told the sports newspaper Meridiano that he’s not afraid of any investigation, but asked caution as “…the FVF is currently going through a very particular situation”.

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Photo courtesy of Janabadi

Funny enough, the announcement of Esquivel’s investigation first came from Nicolas Maduro during his weekly TV show Tuesday night. But that wasn’t enough for him, as he called for a constituyente for both FIFA and the FVF, so “…football players can take power”.

Mr. Maduro seems to ignore that Article 13 of FIFA Statutes indicates that only FIFA can intervene in the internal affairs of any country’s federation, and national governments and courts are barred from doing so, with the only exception of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as last resort.

Matter of fact, the FVF was close to being kicked out in 2005 after an internal dispute over its election ended up in the TSJ’s Electoral Hall.

So, the authorities can investigate Esquivel’s wrongdoings? Yes. Can the government openly intervene the FVF? No. They can try for sure, but FIFA have shown no tolerance for that and has suspended many countries in recent years. So Mr. Maduro, with his innuendos, is threatening to ruin Venezuelan football, just as he has ruined everything else.

The central government has joined the global outcry over the state of football (and supports Vladimir Putin’s claims that the U.S. of A. is behind it all). Not that they weren’t cozy with the FVF before they even gave them a new bus.

And back in the good old days of 2007, when Venezuela hosted the Copa America for the first time ever (and Mr. Maduro was Foreign Minister), Mr Blatter was a guest of honor in Miraflores Palace: the late comandante eterno awarded Sepp and Mr. Esquivel with the second highest honor in the country, the Order of Francisco de Miranda. There were even discussions about hosting either a U-20 or U-17 World Cup in the near future. (It didn’t happen.)

That hasn’t stopped Maduro from proposing a candidate to replace Blatter: none other than Diego Armando Maradona. After all, who better than an old friend of Hugo Chavez and current host of his own show “De Zurda” on Telesur?

Thankfully, this will never happen.

UPDATE: A source inside the FVF told El Estimulo’s Jovan Pulgarin that the Public Ministry probably won’t find any “smoking gun” after its raid on the federation’s offices Wednesday night. Why? Because they got a tip-off a day earlier.

They won’t find anything important, unless they’re terrible at disposing evidence… The day before the raid, the FVF was warned, or in this case (Rafael) Esquivel’s friends. Her secretary took care of erasing any evidence. Same thing in the FVF’s Administration & Marketing Department.”

 

5 thoughts on “Falling out of love with FIFA and the FVF (Updated)

  1. A good case to bear in mind with all this going on is Nigeria’s election in the 2010-2012 period. FIFA almost kicked them out for government meddling, which led to a rouse between the State and the Federation. It all ended when FIFA threatened to pull Nigeria out of qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup.

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  2. It is a situation muy particular when the guy that’s been arrested is the only one with signing authority…still!

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  3. Exactly how does FIFA claim to preempt national jurisdiction over a country’s football organization?

    How would the organization being a member of FIFA exempt them from laws against embezzlement, or tax evasion, or racketeering?

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    • “Exactly how does FIFA claim to preempt national jurisdiction over a country’s football organization?”

      To answer your first question, I put this quote for FIFA’s Director of Member Associations and Development, Thierry Regenass, made in 2011 (which I quoted in the post):

      “FIFA has the mandate to control association football worldwide, in all its aspects. This mandate is delegated to the national association, to control association football at the national level. This is about managing, controlling and developing football as a game and also the organisation of the game in general. The associations have the obligation to do it on their own, in an autonomous way without outside interference, from the government or any other parties. In general, political interference is when a government tries to take direct control.

      Which takes me to your second question: “How would the organization being a member of FIFA exempt them from laws against embezzlement, or tax evasion, or racketeering?”

      It doesn’t. If members of the football association commits a crime, they’re liable to the country’s laws. The FIFA’s political interference rule is about any government using and abusing its power to influence and/or control football activities in a country for its own benefit (like unfairly helping a club winning its local league).

      Other international sports federations and even the International Olympic Committee apply the same principle. Matter of fact, the IOC almost suspended the Venezuelan Olympic Committee (COV) last year for that same reason.

      https://cartasblogatorias.com/2014/12/01/venezuela-falta-de-jurisdiccion-para-conocer-un-asunto-del-comite-olimpico-venezolano-es-competencia-del-tribunal-arbitral-deportivo-de-lausana/

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