1. Archive


FIFA rules prohibit politicians from interfering in their soccer federations. But that didn't stop leaders in France and Nigeria from reacting to disappointing first-round exits.

Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan suspended his team from international competition for two years and announced an investigation into allegations of corruption. Its next scheduled match is September's qualifier for the 2012 African Cup of Nations.

The government gave no details about the investigation other than saying Jonathan's decision came after reading a report by the presidential soccer task force.

Meanwhile, in Paris, French coach Raymond Domenech and federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes testified before the National Assembly's commission on culture and education.

Lawmakers said during a closed-door session, Domenech refused to take responsibility for his team's actions. Besides an 0-2-1 record, an obscenity-laced tirade at Domenech got star Nicolas Anelka kicked off the team, which resulted in teammates refusing to practice. Domenech blamed the media for misquoting Anelka.

"All Domenech says is, 'It's the press. It's the press,'" lawmaker Bernard Debre said. Lawmaker Jean-Francois Cope said his testimony "wasn't very dignified."

Domenech, who is retiring, avoided reporters by entering and leaving through a side door.

Bidder gone wild?

FIFA is investigating if Australia's bid to host the 2022 event broke ethics rules.

Wednesday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported committee members offered pearl cuff links to members of FIFA's executive committee and necklaces to their wives.

The report also said members offered to pay for a Trinidad and Tobago under-20 team to travel to Cyprus (Trinidadian Jack Warner is a FIFA vice president) and paid for a trip to Australia for Rafael Salguero, a board member.

Bid leader Ben Buckley said, "Football Federation Australia has acted in accordance with FIFA guidelines."

Bidders can give gifts of "symbolic or incidental value and that exclude any influence." The rule was enacted last year, after England's 2018 bid members gave $380 handbags to committee members.

Host gone wild

South Africa is rallying support for Ghana, the only African team left. Local officials are distributing Ghanaian flags, and the governing party asked the team to change its nickname from "Black Stars" to "Black Stars of Africa." Gauteng province spokeswoman Nomazwe Ntlokwana said Ghana carries the hopes of the whole continent on its shoulders.

Times wires