Tag Archives: World Cup

Islamists kill 50 in Kenya, some during World Cup screening

Al-Shabaab militants on Kenya (archive)

Al-Shabaab militants on Kenya (archive)

(Reuters) – Somali-linked Islamists have killed at least 50 people in a Kenyan coastal town, executing men in front of their families and killing others who had gathered to watch World Cup soccer on television.

The al Shabaab group said on Monday that its commandos launched Sunday night’s strike on Mpeketoni because Kenya had sent its forces to Somalia and accused Nairobi of assassinating Muslim scholars, a charge Kenyan officials have denied.

“Kenya is now officially a war zone and as such any tourists visiting the country do so at their own peril,” it said, after staging the biggest assault since its gunmen attacked Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in September, leaving 67 dead.

Mpeketoni, where shells of buildings smoldered and pools of blood congealed on the streets, is not normally a stopover for foreign visitors on Kenya’s popular coast, but the attack is likely to hurt further an already struggling tourist industry.

Western nations have in recent weeks tightened their warnings about travel to Kenya, which has been hit by a spate of recent gun attacks and bombings in Nairobi and around the main port of Mombasa, though none have been as serious as Sunday’s.

“The attackers were so many and were all armed with guns. They entered the video hall where we were watching a World Cup match and shot indiscriminately at us,” Meshack Kimani told Reuters, adding about 10 people were killed there.

“They targeted only men but I was lucky. I escaped by hiding behind the door,” he said.

FAMILIES WATCH MEN KILLED

Other witnesses said those gathering for the screenings fled just before the attackers arrived but were found in hiding places and then shot. Hotels, a bank and a police station were also attacked, leaving a trail of dead across the town.

“The wives who came to identify the bodies said the attackers forced them and their children to watch as they killed their husbands,” said Peter Kamotho, a tailor volunteering at a makeshift morgue where bodies of 48 men lay under a cover.

A Reuters witness saw several men with shots directly to the head. Kamotho said they had been shot at close range.

Muiruri Kinyanjui, the Kenya Red Cross regional director for the coastal area, said the death toll was at least 50 but could rise because many residents were still unaccounted for while others had suffered serious injuries.

Many people fled to nearby forests for safety.

Some of the wounded were taken to a hospital in Lamu, a historic Arab trading port that is a big tourist attraction about 30 km (20 miles) from Mpeketoni, which is on the coastline between Mombasa and the Somali border in the north.

Kenyan hotels say bookings have dropped sharply because of recent attacks and Western travel warnings. Some hotels on the coast say they face closure, while some hoteliers inland who offer safaris say reservations are down by 30 percent or more. Witnesses said gunmen roamed for hours into Monday morning. Issah Birido, who hid up a tree shrouded in darkness, said he heard them chanting slogans and speaking in Somali, a language many Kenyan citizens with Somali origins also speak.

WORLD CUP ALERTS

Kenya, which has blamed al Shabaab for the previous attacks, had said it would be on alert during the World Cup to ensure public showings of matches were kept safe.

Although the gunmen struck a range of sites, the assault is likely to heighten worries in other African states such as Nigeria, which is battling the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency, that venues hosting World Cup screenings could be vulnerable.

After Westgate, al Shabaab had warned of more attacks, saying it was determined to drive out Kenyan forces battling the Islamist militants in Somalia along with other African peacekeepers. Kenya has repeatedly said it would not withdraw.

The al Shabaab statement also referred to the killing in drive-by shootings of at least three high-profile Kenyan Muslim preachers, seen as sympathetic to militant Islam. Supporters of the clerics have said their deaths were extra-judicial killings.

Kenya has denied the charge. Police have not found the gunmen behind those shootings.

Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku told a news conference before traveling to the area that the security forces would find the perpetrators, fending off questions about public anger at the failure of the government to do more to secure Kenya.

In an apparent swipe at political opponents, he said the government was cautioning “political leaders … to desist from destructive politics and ethnic profiling that may be responsible for this heinous act”. He did not elaborate.

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World Cup Brazil: Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull Perform at Opening Ceremony

Jennifer Lopez sambaed on the stage of the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Cup in Sao Paulo, Brazil Thursday afternoon (June 12), accompanying Pitbull and Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte during a performance of the official song “We Are One.” Leitte, a star in Brazil, appeared first to warm up the crowd before Pitbull and Lopez rose up from the ground onto the small flower-shaped platform.

The three artists seemed hesitant, standing in a circle and waving their arms throughout the short performance. The song was generally met with a tepid response from the crowd, although a roar could be heard when Lopez, in a bust-revealing beaded leotard, sang her solo and showed off some samba steps. Pitbull’s usual outsize persona was muted as he stood in a Brazil shirt and tight cropped white pants; his vocals were drowned out by the Brazilian percussion troupe that provided live accompaniment to the track. Cheers from the crowd in Sao Paulo could be heard as the song ended.

Leitte, in a modest long-sleeved leotard in blue, the color of the Brazilian team’s shorts, acted as a buffer for the crowd in Brazil, where the song has been widely panned, playing cheerleader and rousing the crowd as leading Lopez and Pitbull off the stage to walk near the stands.

With days to go before the opening, FIFA announced the Lopez would not be present for performance because of “production” problems. Lopez later reversed that decision.

Since “We Are One”s debut earlier this year, social media has exploded with complaints that the song was neither “Brazilian enough” nor good enough to be worthy of the World Cup.

The song has been viewed over 75 million times on YouTube, and sold 91,000 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The opening ceremony, which began about two hours before the inaugural game between Brazil and Croatia, was a simple theatrical spectacle. Pointedly devoid of the sequins and exposed skin stereotypically associated with Brazil, and it was not the kind of big budget extravaganza likely to inflame the wrath of the country’s World Cup protestors. It included a tribute to music of Brazil from different regions, accompanied by dancers in regional costumes and capoeira performers.

Rather than the typical girls in Carnival outfits and drum beats, the 25-minute show opened with stilt walkers dressed as trees and dancers dressed as flowers representing the Amazon, accompanied by rainforest sounds and choral music. In the center of the stadium a “living” LED crystal ball changed colors and images according along with the live action.

Fifa faces call to vote again over 2022 World Cup after leaked Qatari emails

 More than $5m was paid to senior football officials to create support for Qatar’s 2022 bid (Getty)

More than $5m was paid to senior football officials to create support for Qatar’s 2022 bid (Getty)

Fifa is facing calls to rerun the bidding competition for the 2022 World Cup after allegations that a former top Qatari football official paid $5m (£2.98m) to win support for the nation’s campaign to host the event.

Labour said Qatar should lose the 2022 World Cup and urged those involved to resign if the Fifa corruption allegations detailed in the Sunday Times were true. Clive Efford, the shadow sport minister, said the new revelations “called the governance of football into question”.

“No one will have any confidence in a Fifa investigation run by Sepp Blatter,” he said. “If these allegations are true then those involved should resign.”

Lord Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, described Fifa as a “bit of a cesspit” and suggested there was evidence of a “very serious crime” following the reports.

He told Sky News‘s Murnaghan programme: “The idea of another voting session with all this money sloshing around is almost too much to bear. But on the other hand, if I can pretend to be a prosecutor again for a minute, this is evidence of a very serious crime. And the fact that the allegation is that they used dollars, US dollars, means that the justice department in Washington has jurisdiction over this … the United States of course are in the World Cup finals. If the justice department started to take an interest in this, I think Fifa would feel the heat very, very quickly.”

The Sunday Times said it had obtained millions of emails and other documents relating to alleged payments made by Mohamed bin Hammam, the then Fifa executive member for Qatar. The paper said Bin Hammam, also the former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president, used slush funds to pay out the cash to top football officials to win a “groundswell” of support for Qatar’s World Cup bid.

John Whittingdale, chairman of the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, called for the bidding competition to be held again and said it would be impossible for Fifa to brush aside the revelations.

“It is a further demonstration of the need for a complete change in the way that Fifa operates but also that there is now an overwhelming case that the decision as to where the World Cup should be held in 2022 should be run again,” Whittingdale told the paper.

The sports minister, Helen Grant, said: “These appear to be very serious allegations. It is essential that major sporting events are awarded in an open, fair and transparent manner.”

The allegations come less than two weeks before the start of the World Cup in Brazil and bring fresh scrutiny on the 2010 vote, which gave football’s biggest tournament to the tiny desert state. The process is under investigation by Fifa’s independent ethics prosecutor, Michael Garcia.

Qatar has also come under fire for its labour laws, in the wake of an international outcry over conditions for migrant workers before the 2022 World Cup, which followed a Guardian investigation into workplace abuse in the Gulf state.

Bin Hammam is no longer a committee member of world football’s governing body after being caught up in a corruption scandal surrounding his failed campaign for its presidency in 2011. The Sunday Times alleged that he exploited his position as an executive committee member to help to secure votes from key members of its 24-man ruling committee that helped Qatar win the right to host the World Cup. Qatar defeated bids from the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

According to the newspaper, Bin Hammam used 10 slush funds controlled by his private company and cash handouts to make dozens of payments of up to $200,000 into accounts controlled by the presidents of 30 African football associations who influenced how Africa’s four executive members would vote. He also allegedly hosted lavish junkets for these African officials at which he handed out almost $400,000 in cash.

Last month, Blatter said it had been a mistake to choose Qatar for the World Cup, forcing Fifa to try to limit the damage. “Yes, it was a mistake of course, but one makes lots of mistakes in life,” said Blatter, Fifa’s president, in an interview with the Swiss broadcaster RTS. “The technical report into Qatar said clearly it was too hot but the executive committee – with a large majority – decided all the same to play it in Qatar.”

Blatter, who is standing for another term as president in 2015, is believed to have voted for the USA to host the 2022 World Cup, while his prospective rival for the presidency, Uefa’s Michel Platini, voted for Qatar and has been closely linked with the plans for the 2022 tournament.

The Fifa inspection team ranked Qatar as the only “high-risk” option overall, yet it was still chosen by 14 of the 22 voting members of the executive committee in December 2010. The Fifa president said it was now “probable” that it would be played in the winter rather than the summer due to the heat. Blatter insisted, however, that Qatar, which spent huge sums on ambassadors and development programmes, had not “bought” the World Cup.

Jim Boyce, Fifa vice-president, said he would be in favour of rerunning the vote if allegations that widespread corruption was involved in the bid were proved. Boyce, who was not on the executive committee of the world governing body at the time of the vote, said Garcia, would have to widen his investigation.

Boyce told Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme: “As a member currently of the Fifa executive committee, we feel that any evidence whatsoever that people involved were bribed to do a certain vote, all that evidence should go to Michael Garcia, whom Fifa have given full authority to.

“If Garcia’s report comes up and his recommendations are that wrongdoing happened for that vote for the 2022 World Cup, I certainly as a member of the executive committee would have absolutely no problem whatsoever if the recommendation was for a revote.”

Anna Soubry, minister for defence personnel, welfare and veterans, said: “Somebody somewhere has got to get a serious grip on Fifa about the way that they run these competitions.”

Jim Murphy, the shadow international development secretary, also called for a rethink if the allegations were found to be true.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics: “If these allegations and the contents of the emails that the Sunday Times now has turn out to be true there can be no question about this. The thing wasn’t done fairly, it wasn’t done openly and it would have to be cancelled and rerun entirely. The building that is happening in Qatar should be paused and they should have a fair and open competition.”

Qatar’s World Cup officials said the bid committee had “always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity”.

The country’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said: “Mohamed bin Hammam played no official or unofficial role in Qatar’s 2022 bid committee. As was the case with every other member of Fifa’s executive committee, our bid team had to convince Mr Bin Hammam of the merits of our bid.

“We are cooperating fully with Mr Garcia’s ongoing investigation and remain totally confident that any objective inquiry will conclude we won the bid to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup fairly.

“Following today’s newspaper articles, we vehemently deny all allegations of wrongdoing. We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar’s bid and our lawyers are looking into this matter. The right to host the tournament was won because it was the best bid and because it is time for the Middle East to host its first Fifa World Cup.”

Fifa faces call to vote again over 2022 World Cup after leaked Qatari emails | Football | theguardian.com.

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Over 2,000 rally against World Cup in Brazil

More than 2,000 protesters took to the streets of Brazil’s largest city of Sao Paulo on Saturday to rally against the high cost of the World Cup, marking this year’s first major protest against the tournament.

Demonstrators protested against the amount of money being spent on the new stadium, which they say should be used to invest in public services including transportation, healthcare, and education.

The protest was mostly peaceful, ending around sunset on Saturday. Police did report some vandalism, such as broken bank windows, a smashed police car, and a Volkswagen Beetle set on fire, Reuters reported.

Although around 20,000 people confirmed their participation on Facebook in advance, approximately 2,500 protesters attended the rally.

Earlier in June, Brazil was hit with major protests against the Confederation Cup, a rehearsal tournament before the World Cup. More than one million people hit the streets to speak out against corruption and improvised public services.

Many are observing Brazil’s reaction to the World Cup, with some worrying that the protests will hurt the tournament’s image and affect Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s popularity ahead of October elections.

The World Cup is set to kick off in Sao Paolo on June 12, 2014.

Over 2,000 rally against World Cup in Brazil (PHOTOS, VIDEO) — RT News.

DLA Piper has received more than $300,in lobbying fees from Al Jazeera

Qatar accused of fudging ‘independent’ inquiry into migrant World Cup workers . Questions are being raised over the law firm asked by Qatar to assess workers’ conditions on World Cup building sites

A top international law firm that was ordered by the Qatari government to conduct an “independent review” into allegations of modern-day slavery at World Cup construction sites is also a paid lobbyist for an arm of Qatar’s Al Jazeera television network, The Telegraph can disclose.

DLA Piper has received more than $300,000 (£186,000) in lobbying fees this year from Al Jazeera America according to official filings in the US, raising questions over whether it could conduct an unbiased assessment into allegations that have cast a pall over preparations for the 2022 World Cup.

The review was instigated in response to claims in The Guardian newspaper that Nepalese workers were dying at the rate of one per day as they toiled in extreme heat on World Cup infrastructure projects.

The story caused an international outcry and Sepp Blatter, head of the football world governing body FIFA, warned on Oct 4 that Qatar “needs to intervene” to address concern over its labour practices – forcing Qatar, which contests the allegations, to launch a public relations offensive.

That same day, Ali Ahmed Al Kholeifi, international affairs director at Qatar’s labour ministry, announced that DLA Piper had been asked “to undertake an independent review of the allegations and provide a report on their veracity to the ministry”.

Qatar accused of fudging ‘independent’ inquiry into migrant World Cup workers – Telegraph.