Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pachuca is Champions Cup Winner...

Pachuca wins the ticket to Tokyo and the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup by beating Saprissa 2-1 in the second leg of the final series for a 3-2 aggregate score.

This will be Pachuca's second appearance in the FIFA CWC and looked great tonight in gaining entry. Italo Zanzi sent me this picture from his Blackberry at the stadium where a full house was thrilled with the result.

While I was in meetings...

Mary Lynn was busy with her camera roaming on an escorted tour at the Home of FIFA where she captured some of the non-working sites of the building. We hope we were able to convey some of the sense of this enormous structure on the hillside overlooking the city of Zurich.

On the flight back, I put the collection of her pictures to the music of the FIFA Anthem. Click play below to see it for yourself.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Disfunctional Family now Works...

With Jerome Valcke as the new head of the family, the group of Confederations' General Secretaries now takes on a new functional character by contrast to previous administrations where this body achieved very little.

Other than the original activity of designing the International Calendar (which ended up being a replica of the European Champions schedule), this group had been pressed into service by previous General Secretaries but with little accomplished. Linsi would preside over the group by simply running through the Exco Agenda topics and trying to justify each item, without ever listening to the cumulative experience in the room.

Michelle Zen Ruffinen was restricted in his application of the group since it had become perceived as a political counterbalance to the President as the General Secretary tried to maintain some identity for his office which was rapidly disappearing during his administration. During Blatter's days as GS, the body was non-functional due to the ongoing Swiss Wars, the street warfare fought between buildings in Zurich and Bern (the earlier home of UEFA) then Nyon, and little was done other than deal with the deluge of snipping between Aigner and Blatter.

The General Secretaries of the six Confederations visited FIFA on Tuesday 29 April 2008 for a meeting with FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke. Besides Valcke from left to right are: Tai Nicholas (OFC), Eduardo Deluca (CONMEBOL), Paul Mony Samuel (AFC), David Taylor (UEFA), Chuck Blazer (CONCACAF), Mustapha Fahmy (CAF).

Today was something else. Jerome was in a room where he found a friendly supportive environment. For the first time in memory, the UEFA General Secretary was there with the intent to be constructive and collaborating. David Taylor is a welcome change and enables the body to refocus its attention on macro issues and better understanding. David joins three elder statesmen with Fahmy, Deluca and myself each serving for almost two decades in their respective roles and enjoying a true friendship that time alone can establish. Tai Nicholas representing a unique territory of island nations who without Australia is now working on reconciling the impact of that departure to Asia on their competitions and place in the world of football. The missing figure of Peter Vellapan, the 30 year General Secretary of Asia and wonderful resource and friend has been replaced by his well experienced colleague Paul Mony Samuel.

I am happy to say that there was a true dialog. With that dialog comes better understanding and I offer my full compliments to Jerome Valcke in making his colleagues feel relevant and consequently assure himself of the support that he and FIFA needs to accomplish their worldwide objectives.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I May be 63, but I am Still the Game Boy...

Today, FIFA announced the arrangements for the FIFA Interactive World Cup Grand Final in Berlin on 24 May. In a press release issued today, excerpts quote FIFA as saying:

The battle for the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2008 crown will get underway at the Sony Center in Berlin on 24 May 2008. After a busy qualifying season over seven months with live qualifier events in 20 countries around the world, and with over 25,000 players having competed in the online qualifiers... FIFA Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer will represent FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.

“I am very impressed with the level of the participants. It is clear that they have been practicing hard, and like any football event, practice is one of the most important things. The FIFA Interactive World Cup is establishing itself as a premier gaming tournament, and the only one under the FIFA banner. I am also an avid gamer, and the gaming aspect of FIFA08 is unbelievable, it gives the impression of watching a live game,” said Chuck Blazer, who added: “I think it is apt that there are now 32 competitors, which mirrors the number of teams in the FIFA World Cup. This tournament is a serious one, and like its big-brother tournament, the FIFA World Cup, it is not the prize money that encourages good performance, but the pride of being crowned a FIFA world champion.”

The winner of the Grand Final will claim the brand-new FIFA Interactive World Cup Trophy along with USD 20,000 in prize money. In addition, the champion and a companion will be invited to attend the FIFA World Player Gala 2008 to see this year’s top male and female footballers crowned.
I have been around this event for several years now. I helped launch this one for Sony a few months back in Leipzig and put some clips together for a meeting with Sony officials back in December. The Herb Alpert music I had put on the sound track was stripped off the slide show due to lack of rights when I tried to post it to my UTube site. The pictures reamin, so if you can use your imagination and hum along, you can see this silent video of some of the fun we had in Leipzig and in Amsterdam last year.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I was scheduled to fly to Zurich on Sunday night. The day was spent in the office finalizing the package of materials being sent to CONCACAF's Member Associations for their Congress next month in Sydney, Australia. As the day progressed, it was clear that the flight which would have brought me to the home of FIFA the day prior to a morning meeting on Tuesday wasn't going to happen. I wouldn't be able to make it. There was an option. A flight that would arrive at 815am (hopefully on time) from which I would need to rush through immigration and make it to kick off at 10am of the six Confederations' General Secretaries with the General Secretary of FIFA, Jerome Valcke.

As a bonus, I get to spend half a day on Monday with my staff putting finishing touches on the meeting book and then it's off to JFK Airport. This will be a quick trip. I return to New York on Wednesday in time to catch the return leg of the Champions Cup Final live with Pachuca hosting Saprissa on the Fox Soccer Channel at night.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Birthdays are fun...

Donna de Varona, whose birthday coincides with mine, and I stand ready with the candles lit (so were we - on some nice Sassicaia Super Tuscan fermented fruit juice.) Fortunately, the alcohol on our breath didn't replicate the acts of circus fire-eaters spewing winds of flame across the table as we extinguished the lights on the delicious strawberry and chocolate ice cream cake. Donna had only flown in this morning from California after a 3 week jaunt and was joined by her husband John Pinto who was happy to have her back in town.

Only a couple of weeks ago, Elaine celebrated 45 years of continuous operations of her famous upper east side saloon, written about daily in the local gossip columns and immortalized in movies and Billy Joel songs. Here with me Elaine Kaufman takes the space after Donna left to enjoy a coffee and for me a specially made Cinnamon Apple Tea with Honey. We have been friends for years and it is great that the kids feel as comfortable here as I do.

My grandsons, joined by my niece think Elaine's is a cool place to hang out. Their parents always see to it that they are well occupied so that the other customers don't even know there are children in the restaurant. A good bunch of kids.

My niece Kim, who like Donna, just returned from China, told some great stories to the amazement of all at the table, including Sunil Gulati who goes back with me to the days of running State select programs a quarter century ago.

I Share the Day with Others...

Good morning everyone. To eliminate the suspense, let me say that today is my birthday, 63rd to be exact, and while I do take ownership to this date, it is appropriate for me to acknowledge that I share this day with others.

To each of you, I wish you a very special Happy Birthday and may we enjoy them together for years to come.

Lisle Austin, the Senior Vice President of CONCACAF is my colleague and shares this date although born 10 years earlier.

Donna De Varona, is running two years behind me, so as I cross significant thresholds, I share those experiences with her.

Donald's lovely wife, Melania Trump, with whom I share an occasional elevator ride, is the junior member of this quartet clocking in today at only 38

Friday, April 25, 2008

WorldSoccer 100 Movers & Shakers

The May issue of World Soccer just hit the stands in the USA. While in circulation since April 11th in England, today was the first time I actually saw the 100 Movers and Shakers issue.

I must admit to being terribly flattered and also humble at the thought that in the estimation of the Editorial Staff of that esteemed publication they would rank me 14th in the World of the 100 Movers and Shakers.

For me, I have never looked at my work in those terms. It has simply been a process of representating my constituency and speaking up for those issues I believe in; never expecting that those beliefs would have led to the positions I hold both at FIFA and CONCACAF and the opportunities that each of them present.

The idea that one person can actually make a difference is very often the motivation I have in taking on tough and even unpopular issues. In the past, I have found satisfaction in the accomplishments and never in the focus of self importance. To the contrary, I feel blessed to have met and worked with so many wonderful and interesting people over the years and thank each of them for their contributions in making my output successful.

To the editors, a thank you for this note of recognition and I offer the hope to be able to continue to earn your confidence through what I do in the future.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It is Safe to Put the Winter Clothes away...

It was the perfect Spring day. You can always tell when it turns to Spring since on the streets of New York the fashions change. The coats are gone and the skirts are shorter and everyone just looks a little prettier and they have bigger smiles on their faces.

Before letting go of winter, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite photos taken by Mary Lynn during the past season.

All photographs copyright 2008 Mary Lynn Blanks

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

First Leg of the Champions Cup Final tonight...

Saprissa and Pachuca face off tonight in this first match of the CONCACAF Club championship final set.

Update: Result 1:1 (click here for game report)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More about the Pope's visit to New York...

My videos on the Pope's visit have been widely viewed. While checking my YouTube links I found that the New York City Police Department had posted its own short video of the security arrangements during the Pope's visit to our city. I thought it was interesting and it appears here below.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Donna de Varona Guest Column

Donna and I have been friends for a long time. I have tremendous respect for her and the role she has played in the development of sport and our society. In this editorial, Donna, two time Olympic Gold Medal winner and pioneering broadcast journalist, gives her perspective on the upcoming Beijing Olympics 2008.

Playing Sports or Politics

“One world, one dream” is China’s official motto for an Olympic celebration that is turning into an international public relations nightmare.

While China seeks to make the Beijing Olympics an unveiling of its emergence on the world stage, human rights activists are crashing the party, seeking to exploit the Olympics to focus attention on the status of Tibet, war-torn Darfur and host of other volatile human-rights issues. China finds itself on a hot seat that’s not likely to cool in the near term.

The official torch relay has ignited an explosion of protests, with more expected as the torch makes its journey over thousands of miles to Mount Everest through troubled Tibet.

In hindsight, what was the International Olympic Committee thinking when its membership voted to award the games to China?

In 1984, when the former Soviet Union called for a boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics, China, after decades of isolation decided to attend. IOC members felt indebted. Beijing then bid on the 2000 games, but lost to Sydney, Australia. China bid again. This time the IOC, flush in cash and confidence decided to grant the games to the most populous country in the world. With China a nation in transition, the membership was eager to follow its mandate to take the games to new places where progress could be made.

For many decades the Olympics have been used to jump-start all kinds of projects and ambitions, and were seen as a way for postwar cities such as Tokyo in 1964, Munich in 1972 and Seoul in 1988 to reintroduce themselves to the world.

While the boycotts of three consecutive Olympics, namely an African boycott of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, the U.S.-led boycott of the Moscow games in 1980 and the retaliatory Soviet-initiated boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, threatened to undermine the games, good old capitalism, sophisticated marketing and the collapse of Soviet-style communism conspired in the mid to late 1980s to rescue the Olympic movement. It is now the most sought after multi-sport event in the world, commanding billions of dollars in television and sponsorship rights fees. Many of these millions are then given back to the Olympic membership as well as the IOC-sponsored solidarity programs, which are dedicated to fostering sport in developing countries, a contribution human rights groups have not acknowledged.

More than 200 countries will send some 10,000 athletes to Beijing. Double that amount, and that is the estimated number of journalists and media personnel who will travel to China to cover the games. While former Olympic cities have been criticized for building a host of white elephants when preparing and hosting the two-week festival, most cities claim an increase in tourism, the realization of valuable new infrastructure, the creation of new sporting federations and clubs, and the building of important networks with the media, governments, politicians and volunteers. All of these benefits, if and when realized, far outweigh the cost of staging the games.

But in hindsight, should the IOC have anticipated that the selection of China as a host nation would spark such controversy as we are witnessing today and in turn jeopardize the games?

While China has been busy building state-of-the-art sports facilities and modernizing as capital city, human rights activists have been developing strategies to use the games and the worldwide torch relay to launch their campaigns. The Olympics have become an irresistible magnet for causes, and now months before athletes are supposed to take advantage of years of hard work and dedication, they find themselves in the middle of a global explosion of consciousness, anger and disruption.

The staging of the global torch relay was enthusiastically promoted by the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee. The IOC left itself vulnerable to China’s nationalistic ambitions when it reluctantly endorsed the high-risk operation. More “entertaining surprises,” according to a human a rights group, are in store for participants as the flickering flame of hope makes its way to Tibet, which has been closed down to tourism once more.

Last week in Beijing, during a conference with the executive board of the IOC and all national Olympic committees, an athletes’ representative, aware of others who share human rights concerns, called for clarification in respect to an athlete’s right to freedom of expression before, during and after the Games. There are many athletes who share the same human rights concerns but feel used and abused by those who have hijacked the torch relay. The president of the U.S. Olympians, Willie Banks, a victim of the 1980 and 1984 boycotts, argued in an open letter that “the time to influence the politics of China was seven years ago when China bid for the games.”

In 1986, I traveled through China and Tibet when I covered an all-woman attempt to climb Mount Everest for an ABC television special. I felt like I was traveling back centuries as we drove through ancient cities where water, basic goods and necessities were hard to obtain. Desperate people do desperate things, and for those hungering to make a statement about the conditions in Tibet, granting the Games to China provided a much anticipated global stage.

Considering the historical and continuing political unrest over the status of Tibet, what consideration was given to the athletes who compete in these games, especially when, as history demonstrates, a boycott, even a call to snub the opening ceremony, could undermine an athlete’s hard-won opportunity to experience what is currently being eclipsed by so many other agendas? The opportunity to compete against the best in the world in the best of conditions and to enjoy a worldwide gathering of athletes, artists and supporters should be the IOC’s No. 1 priority.
Instead, the athletes are now facing a variety of concerns regarding the games, none of which they can control.

Beijing’s air quality is unpredictable and on many days unhealthy. Olympic organizers and China’s leaders claim steps have been taken to alleviate pollution. There are plans to shut down coal and manufacturing plants as well as to limit the use of automobiles before and during the Olympics. These steps do not address the impact unpredictable sandstorms will have on the air quality during the games. The IOC in anticipation has declared events will be postponed if the air quality poses a danger to the athletes. It is a solution, but one that leaves the athletes dependent on factors out of their control.

Then there is the specter of a boycott. Past Olympic boycotts have clearly shown that they simply do not work. The Soviet Union did not change its policies in Afghanistan because the United States called for a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games. A boycott of the Beijing Olympics could potentially cause the Chinese government and organizers to lose face, but to what end? China’s politics will not change, and a boycott only hurts the athletes who have no real voice, no real power and have spent a lifetime of sacrifice and training to compete in the Games no matter where they are held.

Right or wrong, the International Olympic Committee is a collection of optimists and idealists who, in the face of world politics, has always observed its mandate to take the games where the IOC perceives progress can be made. Yes, I am sure the membership did anticipate that these Olympics had the potential to become a vehicle for many causes. In this respect, one could argue that because the Olympics were awarded to Beijing, simmering issues have been given unprecedented media attention. When a host city is awarded the games, IOC mandates must be observed, including allowing access by the media. In this case China has opened its doors wider than ever, but surely not wide enough for an international press corps eager to explore issues beyond the field of play. In the best of worlds, when the games have come and gone, China will have faced and addressed its issues in more depth than ever before because Beijing placed itself in the very center of the Olympic spotlight.

For the “dream” of “one world” to become a reality, mankind and their governments will need to resist the temptation to impose their ideologies on others. Instead of meddling with the Olympic Games, world leaders should call for continued support for the Olympics and recommend that the games be off limits to political intervention. According to the Dalai Lama, who has always supported China as host of the Beijing Games, some efforts of diplomacy are underway between his representatives and the Chinese government. The Dalai Lama is in Seattle hosting a conference called Seeds of Compassion, a theme China’s government as well as Tibets human rights activists would benefit from adopting.

While athletes worldwide continue to train for their date with destiny, one can only hope that those who are using the Olympic platform for their own ends will refrain from doing exactly what they abhor. Torch carriers have embraced the global run, not to glorify China, but to champion the idea that the games provide a peaceful gathering place for those seeking common ground. By extinguishing the Olympic flame in Paris, by obstructing a torch runner’s path in London, by seeking to grab the torch from a child’s hand, by resorting to disruption, those who have taken these steps do not do justice to the concept of human rights.

Many athletes are supportive of a call to action in respect to Tibet and Darfur. But now they find themselves held hostage to events spinning out of control. The Olympic opening ceremony is scheduled in take place on Aug. 8. There are calls for politicians to stay away from Beijing. Perhaps, this would be a first step in giving the Games back to the athletes who have little power and few votes but are the heart and soul of a tradition that dates back to ancient times.

As Homer said, “The Olympian is a difficult foe to oppose.”
Hopefully, the protesters and politicians will allow our Olympians to compete in their very human, Herculean and apolitical contests, which the world’s spectators have enjoyed for so long, their disparate political views notwithstanding.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pope Benedict visits Fifth Avenue...

Awaking on Saturday morning it didn't take long in looking out the window onto Fifth Avenue to know that something special was happening. Before 8am, people were starting to line the street northbound as I looked towards Central Park. Fifth Avenue is the traditional venue for most parades, with the exception of Thanksgiving (the fun one) which goes down Broadway. We get all the ethnic and national parades. St. Patty's day, Greek, Puerto Rican, Israeli... you name it and Fifth Avenue is host to it, but this morning was different.

Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI was going to celebrate Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, a few blocks south of us, and then go by motorcade up to the Vatican Mission to the UN at 72nd and Fifth to rest before heading up to Yonkers for another event.

I checked the website covering the Pope's visit to New York City to see when he was going to be at St. Patrick's. It said the Mass was at 0915 am. We had a 1215 pm lunch date with Jason & Helen Hughes, who had flown in from London and figured we could go to the terrace in my office before then and get some great pictures since it is directly on the route at 56th Street.

I have long admired the New York City Police Department. I have had many friends in senior positions there, but the part I admire most is how they manage in a city the size of New York to protect us while making sure we can still have fun. I remember a couple of years ago deciding to go to Times Square for New Year's Eve. You can imagine that in the years since 911, security has gotten very tight. Yet, with all the managing to check people entering the zone, every cop did it with a smile and a "happy new year" and by the time you cleared the queues, you didn't even mind the wait.

They do parades the same way. People are there to have a good time and while the city needs to see to it that bad things don't happen, the police make these events possible. You can imagine, with the UN in New York and the number of heads of state and visiting dignitaries, the City of New York is pressed like no other in providing protection to visitors. Today, with the declining dollar, we have become the bargain vacation site for Europeans and others around the world. The New York City Police does it all.

So, let me get back to yesterday. While we took pictures of some of the preparation and pictures of the giant TV screens in front of St. Patrick's as the Pope celebrated mass, the TV commentator reported that the Pope would lunch with Cardinal Egan in the residence before heading uptown, which wouldn't happen to 115pm. That was blowing a hole in our luncheon plans, so I called Jason and Helen and told them to join us at the office and we would get some takeout and eat up there while waiting for the Pope's motorcade.

With about 5 minutes to go before the motorcade was to begin, 7 uniformed police officers of all ranks showed up at our door and rushed to our terrace to see what was going on. It seems that the helicopter flying above spotted people on our terrace (that was us) and needed to clear them from the elevated route. Wow!!!

So, having quickly satisfied themselves that we weren't dangerous, they told us to get off the terrace and go inside. I said, if we do that, we won't be able to take any pictures and after all, what was the point of having the terrace if you can't use it. Then the Inspector in charge did a typically New York thing. He said to the Sergeant, "OK, you stay here on the terrace with them". And so it was that we are able to bring you these videos courtesy of the NYC Police Department. A great bunch of guys.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Final Results...

Saturday's results:

El Salvador - 4 Costa Rica - 3
Mexico - 2 USA - 1

Final Standings

Mexico (qualified for FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup)
El Salvador
(qualified for FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup)
Costa Rica

Congratulations to Mexico and El Salvador on advancing to the finals in Marseilles, France this summer. Mexico was the runner up in last year's final against Brazil played in Rio.

Something for Passover...

My son-in-law Stuart sent me a link to a very creative video which in the end wishes everyone a very Happy Passover. The same from me.

My friend Al also found a cute video spoof of the Village People's song Macho Man which has been adapted for Passover. Enjoy the Matzoh.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Chris Celebrates his 19th Birthday...

Chris, along with his friends Wendy and Jason, his brother Nicholas, his mom Mary Lynn and me, we had a great dinner at Wolfgang's (specializes in Porterhouse steaks). The camera captured the moment when Chris symbolically celebrate his passage to his next age.

Happy Birthday Chris.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Beach Soccer in Puerto Vallarta

This has been a busy couple of months. We just finished two Olympic Qualifying events and today we began the CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship. I was scheduled to head down to Puerta Vallarta this morning. But, with just returning from Zurich and a desk full of work, I dispatched Deputy Secretary General Italo Zanzi to check out the sand and beach event.

Italo just reported back to me that the opening match just finished and with the magic of a Blackberry, sent me this action photo of the match between Costa Rica and the USA. The FIFA Finals this summer will be in Marseilles, France and the team
s in the running also include Mexico and El Salvador. This opener was won by the USA 7-2.

Sitting at my desk and looking at this picture, I
think staying in New York may have been a mistake.

Just as I was about to click Publish Post, my email alerted me that another message came in from Italo in Mexico. So, I guess he wants you to see the teams lined up for the nightcap (really only played in the daytime).

Here is Mexico and El Salvador. Well, congrats to the staff for a good start and hopefully everyone will have as much fun over the next couple of days as it looks today. And Italo... thanks for the pix.


USA 7 - Costa Rica 2
Mexico 4 - El Salvador 2

Friday update:
El Salvador 6 - USA 5
Mexico 7 - Costa Rica 0

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On the flight back from Zurich...

Shortly before flight time from Zurich, I received a couple of emails of thanks from people on both sides who had just executed the contract for Atlantis, the incredible facility we will be using during the 2009 FIFA Congress in the Bahamas. The realization that everything was in place made me think back to the inspection trip we made in February.

One of the highlights, after looking at all the hotel rooms, meeting rooms, dining facilities, front and back offices, sports and beach venues, was taking a break and hitting the Dolphin pool where you can actually get into the water with these giant mammals and play with them. I had those photo files with me on the laptop I was using on the plane.

The video here is the result of my having taken some pictures while waiting with Jaime Byrom well in the distance. My long lens was still able to capture Mary Lynn and her smiles as she was pushed around the pool by the Dolphins, had a hugging session with them and finally stood so close that you could catch the spray as these beautiful animals performed and leaped out of the water in awesome synchronous motion.

Some of the pix are out of focus; locking onto some plant or person 50 feet closer. So, forgive me for some of the shots where you can tell what is going on but don't have the normal detail.

From time to time, I will make postings of the world of Atlantis so you know what you can expect next year. What I can safely say is that the delegates to the FIFA Congress will have the most incredible experience at Atlantis and I look forward together with the Board of the Bahamas Football Association in welcoming everyone there next year.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Can't be in Two Places at the Same Time...

For the past few years I have spent the second week of April in Las Vegas at the NAB Show, the National Associations of Broadcasters. Last year, I added participation on the Advisory Board of the Sports Video Group, looking for better solutions and methods in broadcasting sports.

During that time we have built a very innovative High Definition File Based TV studio using the most modern technology, amazing innovations for match analysis and top flight virtual studios all located in our quite limited office space on Fifth Avenue.

Our innovative approach has prompted SONY to feature me in major presentations produced by them at NAB in Las Vegas over the last two years. I must admit it was an endeavor comparable to completing a postgraduate study program; with the Studio representing the doctoral thesis. Like so many other topics, the subject continues to evolve and as that happens the possible applications change as well.

Distribution costs of streaming video have decreased. Now covered by advertising support, the opportunities have been growing exponentially. Our next challenge will be to produce and deliver a extensive development program for training coaches and officials with high quality material free of cost. While I find myself here in Zurich today; I can't be in two places at the same time. Gary Olson and Howie Feld are searching the NAB show for me this week to find the new technologies to make our future possible. It is all really magic. What we could only have imagined a few years ago we are about to do. All pure magic.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

FIFA Meeting this week on Club Licensing

The FIFA Club Licensing Regulations are the subject of a special meeting this week on Wednesday, April 16th, in Zurich at the Home of FIFA where the Confederations have been invited to a seminar on their responsibility in the roll-out of the European clone imposed on FIFA members around the world.

This is a topic I felt was jammed through the Executive Committee without the proper legal review and analysis of its relevance to the membership in general. The mandates to the National Associations and the Confederations are growing exponentially due to a fear in FIFA of governmental interference from the European Union. As a consequence, we have rushed to create worldwide rulings to demonstrate to the Ministers of Sport in European countries (or states of the EU) that further legislation on their part wasn't necessary to control sport.

Let there be no doubt in your mind that I do view many of the issues raised by various Working Groups as important and requiring action, but I found it all too simplistic to try and apply the rules of UEFA to the world as a method of showing the EU that FIFA is doing things just like its European brothers.

The fact is that the rest of the world isn't like Europe. We are making a serious mistake in trying to replicate those solutions by imposing them in countries in which those rules have absolutely no relevance. Yet, they quickly become the rule of the World. When asked to have the Legal Affairs Committee review those, the members of that Committee were told that there was no need since it was mandated by the Congress.

Even though the panel found support at Congress, we were given the direct responsibility to author the appropriate regulations. I for one do not view abdicating responsibility as the solution. Despite the opinions of many colleagues, I do not accept copying the UEFA regulations as good legislation for the members of my region and those of Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America.

This week may be critical since for the first time those faced with implementing these regulations will face the challenge to see how they fit in their region. I have no problem with UEFA having its own structures which suit its purposes and needs; to the contrary I support it. I just don't know why we are expected to be like them?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Agassi at the CORE:club...

Along with some 70 other members at the CORE:club in New York, I had the good experience of listening to Andre Agassi on Thursday night tell the story of his Foundation and more significantly his the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy (Agassi Prep) – a K-11 public charter school conceived on the belief that nothing has a greater impact on a child’s life than the education he or she receives. Located in Las Vegas’ most at-risk neighborhood, Agassi Prep is designed to improve skill levels, combat lowered academic expectations and create a climate of hope for children who need it. Cited for his accomplishments in Bill Clinton's recent book
Giving, he was featured with the President on Oprah where they videologged the progress of the school.

Founded in 1994 by former professional tennis player Andre Agassi, the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk children through its support of recreational and educational programs. More than 180,000 children have been touched by its funding of programs designed to enhance their character, self-esteem and career possibilities.

“I have been very blessed, and I’m pleased that I can give back,” said Agassi. “Children today face so many obstacles. Fortunately, our donors have given their time, money and resources to provide educational opportunities, recreational activities, after-school programs and more. Through this support, thousands of children have the knowledge, confidence and skills to be successful. But most of all, they have hope.”

After his presentation, Andre answered questions on the Foundation and his career for the next 45 minutes and charmed the group with his sincerity, candor, charm and sense of purpose. It was a very good launch for him to expand his work into the broader national community and taking it to New York was a great place to do it. Most of us remember his last official outing in New York where he said goodbye to an adoring fan base who knows it may never see another one quite like him.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Marci's 40th...

Making a birthday party for your daughter can be really fun. Bringing some faces from the past as surprise brightened Marci's 40th Birthday Party, which was crowned by comedy and great food.

Alan Striar, Marci's first soccer coach; Tom Orfanos, her classmate from Law School; Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, with whom Marci clerked in the NY Supreme Court; and Diana Muller, Marci's first employer as a lawyer.

Laurie Kilmartin and D.C. Benny were the night's headline comedy acts.

To see the Photographic Retrospective hit the Play Button