KEIR RADNEDGE in London: Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s agent, ignoring such minor talents as Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, has claimed that the results of FIFA’s World Player award are manipulated politically to the detriment of the Sweden striker.
Carmine ‘Mino’ Raiola left no doubt about his opinions of not only the world federation but about European authority UEFA and its French president, Michel Platini. In a swingeing attack he compared Platini with a “mafia boss” and described FIFA leader Sepp Blatter as a “demented dictator.”
Ibrahimovic, who recently received the Golden Foot award in Monte Carlo, won a league title in three different countries for eight successive seasons with Ajax (2004), Juventus (2005 and 2006 – albeit both revoked), Internazionale (2007, 2008 and 2009), Barcelona (2010) and Milan (2011).
The 31-year-old’s achievements, according to Raiola, mean that the Paris Saint-Germain centre-forward should have been walking off regularly with the World Player of the Year prize. Instead Ronaldo won it in 2008 and Messi has paraded if for the past three years.
Raiola, in an interview with the Stockholm tabloid evening newspaper Expressen, said he expected to see Ibrahimovic properly recognised in the outcome of the 2012 award.
Ibrahimovic is the only Swedish player and the sole representative of French league football named in the ‘long list’ of 23 players from which a shortlist of three will be chosen at the end of the month. The winner will be named at the annual FIFA Gala in Zurich in January.
“This prize is important only if Zlatan wins it,” said Raiola. “This would prove it to be a fair and independent award. If he does not win it that would only reinforce the impression that it is a politically corrupt prize.
“If you want the prize to be taken seriously then the best player should win it – and that has been Zlatan, for many years now . . . if not, then to hell with it.”
‘Lack of transparency’
Having concluded that particular rant, Raiola attacked what he considered as the lack of transparency and skewed values within football’s governing bodies.
“FIFA and UEFA are exactly the same rubbish . . . the letters may be different but they both stand for anything but transparency. They could be described as a mafia organization in the way they hide things.
“If the Swedish government were like UEFA then the Swedish people would stage a revolution.”
One reason for Raiola’s anatagonism towards Platini is because of the UEFA president’s open concern about PSG’s sudden rise to mega-rich status after the takeover by Qatar Investment Authority.
He suggested it was hypocritical of Platini to criticise PSG for self-enrichment when, by his judgment, UEFA was engaged in the exactly the same process by signing multi-million deals with its own sponsors and television partners.
Raiola, born in Italy 45 years ago and brought up in Holland, bases his business in the millionaires’ tax haven of Monaco.
He added: “Michel Platini has never done anything important for football, only things which serve his own purposes” said Raiola, insisting that UEFA should publish detailed information on its income and expenditure and that “all decisions should be taken by majority vote.”
Raiola went on to describe Platini as having been “only a good footballer” and Blatter as a “demented dictator.”
He added: “No-one from UEFA and FIFA has ever come to me to say: ‘You are wrong,’ because they know I’m right. They are afraid. They can not win an argument against me because they can not say why they are more open.”
Apart from Ibrahimovic, Raiola’s has also acted for high-profile clients such as Milan’s Robinho, Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli, Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, PSV midfielder Mark Van Bommel, PSV fullback Maxwell and Fulham manager Martin Jol. He has also acted for former Czech playmaker Pavel Nedved and old Dutch hero Dennis Bergkamp.
Presumably Raiola will set an example and publish details of his contracts with the various players and coaches whom he represents – and how much commission he earns from his work on behalf of Ibrahimovic.
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