FIFA and IOC won’t investigate China spy case
17.07.2008By Michael Herborn
When the Danish women’s team travelled to China for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2007, the team were subjected to interruptions, inconveniences and intrusive video surveillance.
From holes mysteriously appearing on pitches overnight and brass bands playing on the sidelines, to secret filming from nearby buildings and even behind a two-way mirror at the team hotel, the Danes appeared to be subject to a campaign of intimidation from their Chinese hosts.
The incidents directly preceded the Danes match against the Chinese, which they lost 3-2 to the hosts.
Despite video and photographic evidence of the interruptions taken by the players, FIFA came to the conclusion that the incident was not a sporting matter and was between the police and the hotel. (See video footage of the two alleged Chinese spies below)
In response to criticism of the decision, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said “this case results from a clear security failure. Measures have been taken and implemented in order that such an incident does not happen again. Regarding the Olympic Games in Beijing, I do trust that all measures have already been planned by the competent bodies.”
Danish footballer Anne Dot Eggers disagrees. Speaking to investigative journalist Andrew Jennings, she rubbished FIFA’s claims that the incident was non-sporting to nature, a version of events that appeared to be agreed between FIFA and the Danish federation in a private meeting.
“This was ridiculous. Everybody knew it was a sporting matter. Why else were those guys spying on us?” says Eggers, reports Jennings on his website http://www.transparencyinsport.org/. “They were trying to disturb us and I think they succeeded in doing that.” (See video of Anne Dot Eggers speaking with Andrew Jennings below)
The Chinese for there part even deny the event took place, despite video evidence to the contrary, according to a statement by a Chinese football association official quoted on transparencyinsport.org.
Eggers has not given up the fight for justice, though thus far has met with a blank wall at FIFA. The players’ initial complaint to FIFA was rejected on procedural grounds: “Please note that FIFA cannot reply to matters of such sensitive nature in email form.
Given the significance of the concerns raised in your correspondence, we kindly advise you to forward your email to the Danish association so that they may formalise your complaints through the appropriate channels,” came the response from FIFA official Christian Unger.
When the Danish association general secretary Jim Stjerne Hansen backed FIFA and refused to take the matter further, the players went to the International Olympic Committee to lodge a complaint. Given China’s hosting of the Olympics and IOC member Sepp Blatter’s personal involvement in closing the case, the players feel they have a point to be heard. However, the IOC has refused to get involved, citing a lack of jurisdiction.
In an email to Eggers available on transparencyinsport.org, Secretary of the Ethics Committee Paquerette Girard Zappelli states that the “IOC Ethics Commission has no jurisdiction because there is no documented complaint against the personal activity of an IOC member and that the facts took place during an event organised by an [International Federation] which has the jurisdiction to deal with them.”
As such the Danish players are left in a quandary. The IOC will not investigate the matter further because they believe there is no personal complaint against Blatter, despite the players assertion that he was wrong to personally close the case, and FIFA will not investigate because they argue it is not a sporting matter and the complaint is not coming via the correct channels.
It seems that no one in the sporting world is prepared to investigate why two men were standing behind a closed door at the players’ team meeting with video cameras in hand.
Video 1: Video footage of the two alleged Chinese spies, courtesy of www.transparencyinsport.org
Video 2: Anne Dot Eggers speaking with Andrew Jennings, courtesy of www.transparencyinsport.org
For more information, click here to visit Andrew Jennings's website