FIFA finance watchdog member temporarily suspended during probe
FIFA has temporarily suspended a member of its financial watchdog after he was arrested on suspicion of corruption and money-laundering in his native Cayman Islands, soccer’s governing body said on Tuesday.
Domenico Scala, head of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee, said that although preliminary investigations had not established any connection between the allegations and Canover Watson’s role in football, Watson had been relieved of his duties while the investigation continues.
“After a preliminary clarification of the facts of the case and the allegations of the Cayman Island investigating authorities against Canover Watson, no connection with football and/or his role at association level has been established at this stage,” said FIFA in a statement.
“The investigation continues. The chairman has decided to temporarily relieve until further notice Canover Watson, to whom the presumption of innocence applies, of his duties on the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee.
“This should not be regarded as routine procedure, because cases like this or of this nature must always be assessed on their individual merits.”
Watson, one of eight members of the committee and a vice-president of the Caribbean Football Union, has denied the charges and been released on bail in the British overseas territory.
The allegations refer to Watson’s time at the head of Cayman’s Health Service Authority and follow a police investigation into the introduction of a swipe card system.
Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commissioner David Baines, in a statement to local media, said that Watson was suspected of “breach of trust contrary to section 13 of the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Law, as well as abuse of public office… and conflict of interest”.
Van Basten swaps jobs with his assistant at AZ Alkmaar
Marco van Basten stepped down as coach of AZ Alkmaar on Tuesday, saying he could no longer cope with the stress, but will stay at the Dutch club after swapping jobs with his assistant Alex Pastoor.
The club had announced on Monday that the former European Footballer of the Year was returning from a brief leave of absence.
But in a dramatic twist to the saga, the 49-year-old told a news conference that stress, which led to heart palpitations, meant he could no longer work as head coach and would never again do so.
“The stress I experienced as a head coach was much more than I would have liked,” he said, adding that he had suffered no physical discomfort over the past three weeks.
“It (the palpitations) has happened to me several times over the last years. I thought I could overcome it and that things would get better,” said the former Dutch international striker.
“I worked hard at recovery and followed the necessary courses of treatment. I wanted to keep going but they kept coming back. There were two solutions: to do something else or to change the way I currently work.
“That is why I asked AZ to change my responsibility to better suit me and so that I can continue,” he added.
Chelsea expect Hazard to sign new deal
Chelsea are confident that Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard will commit his long-term future to the Premier League club by signing a new contract, manager Jose Mourinho said on Tuesday.
Hazard, who was Chelsea’s top scorer with 14 league goals last season, has established himself as an talismanic playmaker since his arrival from French club Lille in 2012.
The 23-year-old has three years remaining on his current deal at Stamford Bridge, but the Chelsea boss said the club and player were keen to extend his stay.
“We have big hopes that he will go from a top player to reach higher levels,” Mourinho told a news conference ahead of his team’s opening Champions League group game at home to Schalke 04.
“He’s a player we want to keep. It’s true Chelsea is trying to have an agreement for a new contract. It will be a question of time. It will end with a new contract.
“He wants to commit to us and we want to commit to him for the future.”
Swiss keeper shocked after fans urinate in his water bottle
A Swiss goalkeeper has threatened legal action after fans of a rival lower league team urinated in his water bottle and then taunted him when, unawares, he took a sip during a match at the weekend.
FC Muri goalkeeper Reto Felder said he had felt sick after tasting the warm contents of the bottle, which he had left near the goalpost during the 1. Liga (third tier) game at FC Baden near Zurich.
“The idea of drinking piss is simply intolerable,” the Aargauer Zeitung website (www.aargauerzeitung.ch) quoted the 34-year-old player as saying, adding that he was waiting for an analysis of video evidence before further action.
“What if next time it is something that knocks you out?,” added Felder.
Swiss tabloid Blick reported that the unidentified fans had persuaded a ball boy behind the goal to pass them the bottle during the second half of the match.
The paper said the fans shouted “Now you have AIDS” after Felder realised what had happened.
Muri coach Beat Hubeli was shocked
“That’s bottom drawer,” he said. “I’ve played football and experienced a lot but that beats everything.”
Baden president Thomi Bram apologised to the goalkeeper on the club website (www.fcbaden.ch) and said they were conducting an internal investigation.
Condemning the fans for damaging the club’s reputation with their ‘reprehensible’ behaviour, he said he had apologised in person to the goalkeeper, coach and Muri president and informed the Swiss soccer authorities.