- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2002

From combined dispatches
YOKOHAMA, Japan If the action on the field mirrors the campaign for FIFA president leading to Sepp Blatter's victory yesterday, the World Cup should be intense.
After a contest with hostility and accusations that he mismanaged the soccer governing body's finances, Blatter easily defeated African soccer head Issa Hayatou of Cameroon 139-56. He will preside over tomorrow's opener of the world championship between France and Senegal at the beginning of his second four-year term.
"You cannot imagine what it means for me having been during months accused what a bad man I am," said Blatter, appearing tired, in a rambling, emotional acceptance speech. "And you all cannot be so bad. So therefore we are all good."
He added in English, French and Spanish "The football community is not a liar."
But few questions about FIFA's financial status were answered despite the lengthy congress. Conflicting and confusing accounts were presented by rival factions, but the congress approved last year's finances and the next four yearly budgets on a provisional basis.
"It's only because we are registered in Zurich as an association and not a company that we are not legally bound to report ourselves to court in Switzerland as legally insolvent," said David Will, chairman of a special internal audit committee.
But Blatter claims FIFA has "hundreds of millions of Swiss francs in our bank account." And Chuck Blazer, CONCACAF general secretary and a member of Will's audit committee, added, "I'm somewhat surprised that the chairman of the internal audit committee has walked into a crowded theater and yelled 'fire.' There is no fire."
FIFA also stands accused of ignoring children who are exploited by the manufacturers of soccer balls.
"The biggest challenge facing the football world is to banish child labor from the work force engaged in producing balls and other equipment," said Kailash Satyarti, chairman of Global March Against Child Labor, an India-based international coalition of more than 2,000 non-governmental organizations, trade unions, teacher unions and social groups. "As long as children continue to be exploited by manufacturers of football equipment, the game has no legitimate right to identify itself with fair play.
"Children continue to be used for stitching balls and forfeit their right to education and recreation. The soccer world doesn't seem to be showing any remorse."
FIFA spokesman Keith Cooper denied the accusations, saying soccer's governing body had been working on the issue of child labor for six years.
"Global March refers to balls that have no connection with FIFA or the World Cup whatsoever," Cooper said. "FIFA is one of the few sports organizations that have done anything about it."
Keller injures elbow
SEOUL U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller strained his left elbow in practice, an injury that team doctors said was minor.
Keller, in a tight race with Brad Friedel for the starting job in the World Cup, was examined by the U.S. team's medical staff, which described the injury as a bruise.
"Kasey was checked out by the doctors after tweaking his arm," team spokesman Jim Moorhouse said. "The doctors said it is not expected to sideline him at all."
Keller, 32, is the No.1 goalkeeper for Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League. He was the U.S. starter for the first two games of the 1998 World Cup. In qualifying for this tournament, which the Americans open Wednesday against Portugal, Keller started eight games, going 4-2-2. He has 60 international appearances.
Japanese prince arrives
SEOUL In a gesture of reconciliation, a cousin of Emperor Akihito arrived in South Korea for the World Cup opener.
Upon arrival, Prince Takamado and his wife visited the National Cemetery and laid a wreath for Korean War dead. The prince is Japan's first royal family member to visit South Korea in the postwar era.
Ties between the Asian neighbors often have been tense because of Japan's 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean peninsula carried out in the name of the emperor.
Today Takamado is expected to pay a courtesy visit to President Kim Dae-jung, a Foreign Ministry official said. They will attend the tournament's opening ceremony tomorrow before defending champion France opposes Senegal.
Takamado and his wife are scheduled to watch two more World Cup matches before returning home Monday.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide