TIME Soccer

Fallout From FIFA Corruption Probe Intensifies

Soccer's governing body is also at risk of losing millions in sponsorship deals

Corporate sponsors are scrambling to distance themselves from the sprawling corruption dragnet launched against soccer’s global governing body, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), by American and Swiss authorities this week.

On Wednesday, prosecutors in the U.S. unveiled a 47-count indictment against 14 defendants tied to the federation, including nine FIFA officials, who are accused of involvement in racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracies.

“Our investigation revealed that what should be an expression of international sportsmanship was used as a vehicle in a broader scheme to line executives’ pockets with bribes totaling $110 million — nearly a third of the legitimate costs of the rights to the tournaments involved,” Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney General, told reporters during a press conference in Brooklyn.

The presentation of the indictment in New York City came as officials in Switzerland launched their own criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, following the arrest of seven FIFA officials in Zurich on the eve of the federation’s 65th international congress in the city.

Corporate sponsors linked to the organization appear to be in all-out damage control mode as the investigation made international headlines. World Cup sponsor Visa joined the chorus of saber rattlers lambasting FIFA and threatened to abandon its deal with the organization if it failed to weed out corruption in its ranks.

“It is important that FIFA makes changes now,” read a statement released by Visa. “Should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.”

Global soft-drink juggernaut Coca-Cola, which is also listed as one of seven FIFA partners for the 2018 World Cup, also sought to disassociate itself from the investigation, blasting the association for bringing disrepute to the sport.

“This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations,” said the company in a statement.

However, sponsors also appear to be firmly in the crosshairs of the U.S Justice Department.

During the press conference in Brooklyn, Attorney General Lynch said the corruption probe also covered “agreements regarding sponsorship of the Brazilian national soccer team by a major U.S. sportswear company,” a not-so-vague reference to the 10-year, $160 million deal that Nike and the Brazilian national team inked in 1996.

On Wednesday, U.S. officials promised that the investigation launched this week was only the first chapter in their probe into corruption in international soccer.

“This is the beginning of our effort, not the end,” stressed Kelly Currie, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “We are looking into individuals and entities in a variety of countries.”

TIME Soccer

Swiss Authorities to Investigate FIFA Over 2018 and 2022 World Cup Bids

FBL-FIFA-CORRUPTION-US-SWITZERLAND
Fabrice Coffrini—AFP/Getty Images FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio gives a press conference at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich on May 27, 2015

The suspects are likely to be extradited to the U.S.

Swiss officials rounded up seven leading soccer officials in Zurich on Wednesday morning as a part of an operation that will likely see the suspects extradited to the U.S. on corruption charges, reports the New York Times. The arrests come just days ahead of the 65th congress of the sport’s global governing body FIFA, which is scheduled to commence in the Swiss city on Thursday.

Federal prosecutors in Switzerland have opened criminal proceedings related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and said they have seized “electronic data and documents” at the FIFA headquarters as part of the investigation. Police officials said 10 executive committee members who took part in the 2010 votes will be questioned. The U.S. Department of Justice has also unveiled an indictment against nine FIFA officials, including vice presidents Jeffrey Webb and Eugene Figueredo, and five corporate executives for racketeering conspiracy and corruption.

The soccer organization has been long bedeviled by rumors of graft, especially relating to World Cup bids and broadcast rights.“We’re struck by just how long this went on for and how it touched nearly every part of what FIFA did,” an unidentified law-enforcement official told the newspaper. “It just seemed to permeate every element of the federation and was just their way of doing business. It seems like this corruption was institutionalized.”

[NYT]

TIME Military

New Rules Mean No More Outside Food for Guantánamo Bay Inmates

Guantanamo Future
Charles Dharapak—AP A soldier stands at the now closed Camp X-Ray, which was used as the first detention facility for al-Qaeda and Taliban militants who were captured after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, on Nov. 21, 2013

Critics say the policy severs a valuable emotional link to outside world

New military regulations will prevent attorneys from bringing food to inmates being held in custody at the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, reports the Miami Herald.

Effective this week, the ruling will reverse a long-standing policy that allowed inmates’ representatives to bring fast food and homemade treats into their legal conferences at the facility.

Attorneys chided the ruling as another means of cutting off their clients’ few remaining links to life outside of the military prison, where Washington incarcerates alleged al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

“It’s actually quite tragic for the clients,” attorney Alka Pradhan told the Miami Herald. “Sometimes the food we bring is the only thing from the outside world they’ve seen in months, and they really look forward to it.”

Prison officials have defended the policy citing health and safety reasons.

[Miami Herald]

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s Why Living on a Noisy Street Could Make You Fatter

man driving a car, eating a burger
Getty Images

Living next to a busy thoroughfare may affect more than just your mental well-being

The overwhelming hum from nearby traffic is often annoying, but it could also be making individuals more obese, according to new research from Sweden.

In an article featured in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal this week, researchers said they found that residents of Stockholm exposed regularly to noise from trains, aircraft or road traffic, all experienced growth in their respective waistlines.

For individuals that were unlucky enough to have been consistently exposed to all three categories, “the risk of a larger waist doubled from the 25% heightened risk among people exposed to only one noise source,” reports the Guardian.

The research team was unable to draw a conclusive link between noise pollution and obesity, but suggested that the increase of stress caused by audible irritants may be a possible culprit.

“Traffic noise may influence metabolic and cardiovascular functions through sleep disturbances and chronic stress,” said Andrei Pyko, lead author of the study at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, according to the Australian Associated Press.

And when a person’s sleep patterns are disturbed, it can easily affect “immune functions, influence the central control of appetite and energy expenditure as well as increase circulating levels of the stress hormone cortisol.”

[Guardian]

TIME viral

Watch This High School Football Player Execute a Mad One-Handed Backflip Catch

Top that, Odell Beckham

Professional and amateur football has had no shortage of unbelievable catches over the years, from Terrell Owens’ clutch grab against the Packers in 1999 to Odell Beckham’s single-handed miracle against the Cowboys last season.

However, almost all of the great receptions from the past pale in comparison to the one-handed backflip snag that high school cornerback Marco Wilson was somehow able to execute with apparent ease in a video posted online this week.

Unsurprisingly, the 16-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., already has 11 collegiate offers on the table, according to Bleacher Report. After this video goes viral, expect that number to keep rising.

TIME celebrities

Detailed Online Allegations About Josh Duggar Were Made Years Ago

Duggar has admitted he acted “inexcusably” as a teenager

In May 2007, an online commenter, known simply as Alice, published a detailed account on a blog at ibiblio.org alleging that Josh Duggar had a history of molesting young girls, PEOPLE reports.

Late last week, the 19 Kids and Counting star acknowledged that he had acted “inexcusably.” Duggar has since resigned from the Family Research Council and TLC has yanked 19 Kids and Counting from its official schedule.

According to PEOPLE, Alice alleged that Duggar was a “child molestor” and said that “he should be removed from the home.”

Read more at PEOPLE

TIME Baseball

New York Yankees Retire Bernie Williams’ Number

Texas Rangers v New York Yankees
Al Bello — Getty Images Bernie Williams waves to the crowd during the ceremony to retire his number in Monument Park before the game against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium on May 24, 2015 in New York City.

No one will ever don the pinstripes and the no. 51 in Yankee stadium again

The New York Yankees paid the ultimate respect to five-time all-star Bernie Williams on Sunday night by retiring his no. 51 jersey and placing a plaque dedicated to him in Monument Park alongside those of the team’s myriad other legends.

“This is unbelievable,” said Williams. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that a skinny little 17-year-old kid from Puerto Rico could be here this day in this celebration.”

Although the center fielder last played with the Yankees in 2006, he didn’t officially retire until last month.

Williams by all indication has been rocking out hard since leaving the organization almost a decade ago. The former music student and avid guitarist has been jamming with the likes of Gregg Allman as of late and is slated to perform at the Laid Back Festival in Wantagh, New York in August.

TIME Research

Study Finds Possible Association Between Autism and Air Pollution

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Getty Images

Research suggests that early exposure to air pollution may have wide-ranging negative effects

A new study from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that exposure to fine particulate air pollution from pregnancy up and through the first two years of childhood may be linked with developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health conducted “a population-based, case-control study” of families living in southwestern Pennsylvania, which included children with and without ASD, reports Science Daily.

The research team was then able to estimate an individual’s exposure to specific categories of air pollution based on where their mothers lived before, during and after pregnancy.

“There is increasing and compelling evidence that points to associations between Pittsburgh’s poor air quality and health problems, especially those affecting our children and including issues such as autism spectrum disorder and asthma,” said Grant Oliphant, president of the Heinz Endowments, which funded the research project.

However, the members of the study stressed that their findings “reflect an association” but does not ultimately prove causality.

[Science Daily]

TIME Crime

Colorado Triathlon Canceled in the Wake of Multiple Shootings and Sniper Fears

Bicyclist Fatally Shot
Jason Pohl — AP Windsor Police investigate the area where a cyclist was fatally shot in Windsor, Colo.

Federal agents join investigation into possible serial shooter

A popular triathlon in northern Colorado has been canceled following a rash of shootings near the small town of Windsor, which has left one person dead and another injured.

John Jacoby, 48, was shot dead earlier this week while cycling along a stretch of road just outside of Windsor, reports ABC News. The incident occurred in close proximity to an earlier shooting late last month, when a 20-year-old woman survived being shot in the neck while driving along Interstate 25 outside of nearby Fort Collins.

Local officials are working in tandem with federal investigators, who are scrambling to see if the two events are connected. In the wake of the shootings, organizers of Pelican Fest Sprint Triathlon have canceled the race slated for this weekend because of security concerns.

“My decision was based on the overall safety of all the athletes, volunteers, traffic control personnel, spectators and vendors,” wrote Dennis Vanderheiden, the race’s director, in a post published online. “The proximity of the shooting death and the bike course gave me real concerns.”

TIME society

Couple Who Immigrated to America Leaves $847K Estate to U.S. Government

Mystery continues to surround their generous donation

A Seattle couple, who met after the husband fled Nazi-occupied Europe to American shores, have left their entire estate the “to the government of the United States of America” in their identical wills, reports ABC.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Treasury received a cashier’s check for $847,215.57 on behalf of the estate of Peter and Joan Petrasek.

Although the couple never explicitly stated their reason for the donation, officials have pointed to the couple’s immigrant roots and the husband’s escape from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia as a possible reason behind the generosity. Joan was also an immigrant originally from Ireland.

“This case is interesting because it seems to be that these were two immigrants who felt grateful to have this adoptive country open its arms to them after having a hard time in Eastern Europe during World War II,” said Peter Winn, the U.S. assistant attorney who helped handle the case, told the broadcaster.

“It’s pretty obvious these folks felt pretty proud they were U.S. citizens.”

[ABC]

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