Football, tennis celebrities donate big amounts to coronavirus battle

This combination photo shows, from left, soccer stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who have each donated 1 million euros ($1.08 million) to help with the battle against the new coronavirus. (AP Photo)
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Updated 26 March 2020

Football, tennis celebrities donate big amounts to coronavirus battle

  • Messi and Guardiola donated 1 million euros each; Ronaldo donated lifesaving equipment
  • Former tennis world No. 1 Federer and his wife donated 1 million Swiss Francs

MADRID: Roger Federer, Lionel Messi, Pep Guardiola and Cristiano Ronaldo on Wednesday poured in their support for the battle against the coronavirus as the death toll in Europe jumped further.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola started the ball rolling by each donating one million euros ($1.08 million).
Argentina international Messi’s donation will be split between Hospital Clinic in Barcelona and another medical center in his home country, according to a report in Marca.
“Leo Messi made a donation to the clinic to fight the coronavirus,” Hospital Clinic wrote on Twitter. “Thank you very much, Leo, for your commitment and your support.”
Former Barcelona player and manager Guardiola made his contribution to a campaign launched by the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation and Medical College of Barcelona.
“Pep Guardiola has made a donation of one million euros to the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation for the acquisition and supply of health equipment to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic,” said a statement from the College.
“The donation campaign promoted by the Medical College of Barcelona and managed through the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation aims to collect medical materials and financial contributions from collegiate doctors and the general population, for the purchase of medical equipment and equipment that is currently lacking in health centers in Catalonia.
“It will also help finance the alternative production, through 3D printing and other methods, of respirators and personal protection equipment for health care staff.”
Before Guardiola made his donation, the campaign had raised 33,000 euros in three days.
Portugal and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes also came together to donate lifesaving equipment to Portuguese hospitals.




Swiss tennis champion Roger Federer and his wife Mirka have donated 1 million of Swiss francs "for the most vulnerable families in Switzerland" and have called on others on March 25, 2020 to add their support. (AFP / Johannes Eisele)


Federer's donation
Tennis superstar Federer of Switzerland and his wife donated one million Swiss Francs ($1.02 million) to vulnerable families in his native Switzerland.
"These are challenging times for everyone and nobody should be left behind," Federer wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
"Mirka and I have personally decided to donate one million Swiss Francs for the most vulnerable families in Switzerland."
Globally, more than 420,700 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus and 18,820 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Switzerland has nearly 9,900 confirmed cases with 122 deaths.
"Our contribution is just a start," Federer added. "We hope that others might join in supporting more families in need. Together we can overcome this crisis."
Federer, a 20-times Grand Slam winner, is currently recovering from a knee surgery he underwent last month and was targeting a return in June in time for Wimbledon.
The tennis season is, however, suspended until June 7 due to the pandemic.
"These are challenging times for everyone and nobody should be left behind," Federer wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
Spain is the country worst affected by the disease in Europe outside of Italy, with 2,696 deaths and almost 40,000 positive cases.
The region of Catalonia, where Guardiola is from and where Messi has lived since joining Barca aged 13, is one of the worst-affected parts of the country.
Switzerland has nearly 9,900 confirmed cases with 122 deaths.
Globally, more than 420,700 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus and 18,820 have died, according to a Reuters tally.


FIFA bribe allegations raise more questions over Qatar World Cup

Updated 07 April 2020

FIFA bribe allegations raise more questions over Qatar World Cup

  • Suspicion and rumors have long surrounded Qatar's bid

LONDON: The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has become the focus of fresh FIFA corruption allegations after the release of a new US Department of Justice indictment which says bribes were paid to football officials to secure their votes for hosting rights.

Suspicion and rumors have long surrounded both the 2010 vote by FIFA’s executive to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. But on Monday, for the first time, prosecutors set direct, formal allegations down in print.

According to the prosecutors, representatives working for Russia and Qatar bribed FIFA executive committee officials to swing votes in the crucial decision of world football’s governing body.

FIFA and the Qatar World Cup organizers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Qatar and Russia’s World Cup bids have always denied paying bribes.

Although FIFA has reacted to previous media allegations about the Qatar bid process by insisting the tournament will be unaffected, the USallegations will lead to further questions over the hosting of the tournament, which is scheduled for November and December of 2022.

The indictment states that the three South American members of FIFA’s 2010 executive — Brazil’s Ricardo Teixeira, the late Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and an unnamed co-conspirator — took bribes to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 tournament.

“Ricardo Teixeira, Nicolas Leoz and co-conspirator #1 were offered and received bribe payments in exchange for their votes in favor of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup,” reads the indictment.

Teixeira, the former son-in-law of long-time FIFA boss Joao Havelange and ex-head of the Brazilian soccer federation (CBF), was not immediately reachable for comment.

The DOJ also alleges that then FIFA vice president Jack Warner was paid $5 million through various shell companies to vote for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup.

Warner has been accused of a number of crimes in the long-running USprobe and is fighting extradition from his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago. Warner, who was not immediately reachable for comment, has always denied any wrongdoing.

Alexei Sorokin, CEO of the local organizing committee for Russia’s 2018 World Cup, told the Interfax news agency: “This is only the opinion of lawyers. We have repeatedly said that our bid was transparent.

“At the time we answered all questions, including from the investigation branch of FIFA and from the media, we handed over all needed documents. We have nothing to add to this and we will not respond to attempts to cast a shadow on our bid.”

Asked if the Kremlin was aware of the US indictment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We read the media reports. We don’t understand what they refer to.

“Russia received the right to host the World Cup completely legally. It is in no way linked to any bribes. We reject this. And Russia hosted the best soccer World Cup in history, which we are proud of.”

The Qatar World Cup organizers have been fending off allegations of corruption ever since the tiny Gulf state was awarded the 2022 tournament.

In 2014, FIFA, then under the control of former President Sepp Blatter, cleared Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing in their bids to host the World Cup after an investigation.

Blatter was banned from football by FIFA along with scores of other officials following internal ethics investigations, promoted by the arrests of seven FIFA officials on UScorruption charges in Zurich in May 2015.