As a rule, even today, sports aren’t played as much as they are outside Asia. Children are generally encouraged to spend their time studying not playing sports.

The Asian Games is played every four years. It was held in Doha, Qatar in 2006. More than 10,000 athletes competed in Olympics-style events as well as in sports such as speed chess, wushu, sepak takraw and soft tennis. The 2010 event in Guangzhou featured 40 sports was dominated by China. The 2014 Asian Games in Inchon, South Korea will be trimmed to 36 sports. The eight non-Olympic ports that are included are baseball, karate, bowling, cricket, kabbadi, sepak takraw, squash and wushu.

There is also an East Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games.

Golf in Asia

Golf is becoming increasingly popular in Asia. It has been popular for some time in Japan and South Korea and attracting new players in China and Southeast Asia. Many elite golf courses are used by foreign tourists than by locals.

Golf was introduced to Asia by the British and the places with the oldest gold traditions tend to be former British colonies. The sport is increasingly seen as an asset for getting head and making contacts in the business world. The 30-tournament Asian Tour, the main pan-Asian circuit, was launched in 2003. The main national golf tournament organizations are the Japan Golf Tour, the China Golf Association, the PGA of Australia, the Korea Golf Association, and the Korean PGA. These groups have discussed merging their tours into a 35-tournament OneAsia “super tour.” The Asian Tour has not endorsed the idea, viewing as a threat to its tour.

The Masters and British Open, two of golf’s four majors, have made an effort to include more Asia players in part to help expand interest of the sport in Asia. There has been some discussion of relocated the PGA Championship, another major, to Asia but PGA officials said in 2012 that won’t happen.

At the 2010 Singapore Open, three blind golfer were allowed to play and join the Asian Tour. The three golfers — Australia’s David Blyth, England’s Neil Baxter and Malaysia’s Yam Ting Woo, played a three-hole challenge, each paired with a professional who was blindfolded.

Asia has many good women golfers, particularly from South Korea and to a lesser extent Japan. Teams made up of Asian women have defeated international teams.

Top Asia players include Liang Wen Chong, the first Chinese player to win the Order of Merit on the Asian Tour; Jeev Milka Singh, who has won six times on the Asian Tour; and Prayad Marksaeng, the first Thai to qualify for the British Open (in 1999). Singh won twice on the European Tour and was the Asian money king in 2006.

A team of top golfers from Asia squares off against a team of top golfers from Europe in rhe Royal Trophy competition in Bangkok. The tournament was inaugurated in 2006.

Badminton in Asia

Badminton is very popular in Asia. The sport was developed in England in 1875 and named after the state of the Duke of Beaufort but was inspired by paddle games in Asia. Badminton is a sport of deft flicks and dramatic overhead kill shots. A typical doubles match destroys eight to a dozen shuttlecocks.

Shuttlecocks are typically made goose feather and sometimes duck feather, The best ones are with 16 hand-selected goose feather plucked in northern China and punched into a cork base. and held together with string and glue, Sometime a single goose only one or two feathers deemed good enough for a shuttlecock. . They have be able to withstand shots of 150 kph and have a shape that ensure consistent, predicable flights. A tubes of dozens coast $25 in the United States.

At a shuttlecock factory for eh Potsky Racquet and Shuttlecock Co. in Guangzhou the feather are sifted, trimmed from 8 inches siwn to 4 inches, sorted by curvature and inserted into a cork imported from Portugal. Only the thickest and most regular feathers ate used for high grade shuttlecocks. Lowe grade shuttlecocks use thinner, slightly irregular good feathers or duck feathers, which are less durable.” The feathers typically sell for 3 cents a piece. The Potsky factory goes through 4.8 million of tem a month.

During the bird flu crisis million of birds that normally provide feathers for shuttlecocks were slaughtered. Shuttlecocks were sold made with inferior feathers. The feathers were finer and the shuttlecocks fell apart. Players around the globe complained. Even top produces could not get the quality feathers they needed.

Sepak Takraw

Sepak Takraw is an interesting sport that you see played all over Southeast Asia. Essentially it is volleyball played without using your hands and arms. It is very exciting to watch a good player leap high into the air, flip around and spike the ball with his foot at 60 miles per hour and then fall on his head and shoulders without hurting himself.

Sepak Takraw is played with a special rattan bag in a badminton court. It is known by different names in different countries: “sipak” in the Philippines, “takraw” in Thailand and “sepak raga” in Malaysia. Sepak Takraw was coined in 1965 at the Southeast Asia Games by combining the Malay word for kick (“speak”) and the Thai word for ball surprisingly “”takraw””). Malaysia has lobbied to get “sepak takraw” accepted as an Olympic sport

The origin of Sepak Takraw is not known. Malays claim it was invented in Malaysia while Thais claim it was invented in Thailand. The game was reportedly played in royals courts in feudal Malaysia an is associated with the great Malayan hero Hang Tuah. In this version of game participants gathered in a circle and tried to keep the ball from hitting the ground. During the British colonization period, it was played mainly in villages as a s lunchtime pastime by working boys.

Competition sepak takraw is played with three players on a team and has rules similar to volleyball and badminton. Play begins with a served (kicked) and each side is allowed three hits (the same as volleyball) before it is delivered over the net to the other team. The scoring is like badminton. The first team to 15 wins.

Team Sports in Asia

Basketball is very popular in Asia, especially China (See China). Rugby is popular in Japan. Hong Kong hosts a popular rugby sevens tournament and was the site of a Bledisloe Cup game between the All Blacks and Australia. South Korea, the Arabian Gulf and Kazakhstan have fielded international teams. By one estimate there are 90,000 rugby players in Sri Lanka.

Hideki Nomo’s spectacular debut with the Dodgers in the American Major Leagues in the 1990s sparked interest in baseball across Asia. Baseball is already very big in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The Yankees, Dodgers and the Major Leagues have made a big push in China (See China).

Cricket is big in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In 2006, ESPN-Star, a Singapore-based sports channel jointly owned by Disney and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, payed $1.1 billion for the righst to broadcast cricket games through a deal with the International Cricket Council.


Kabbadi is a traditional, territorial game of tag sometimes regarded as India's national sport. It revolves around players shouting “kabbadi, kabbadi, kabbadi, kabbadi” in one breath while trying to capture opposing players and avoid being captured themselves.

No one knows when or how kabbadi was first invented but is believed that it has been around for centuries and was known under a number of different names — zabar ganana, hututu, chedu-gudu, saunchi-pakki, bhadi-bhadi, do-do-do — depending n where it was played. According to one story the game was inspired by the battle between a tiger trying to catch a person to eat and villagers trying to capture the tiger. The game was first played in an organized form at the Hind Vijay Gymkhana in Barodo in 1923.

Kabbadi is a serious game in South Asia with major competitions between national teams from the countries there. India defeated Sri Lanka 76-13 in the gold medal kabbadi match at the 1999 Asian Games. In India it is recognized as on official sport by the India Olympic Association. There are thousands of kabbadi clubs. The game lends itself to rural India because you don’t need any equipment; just a small area to play it.

Rules of Kabbadi

Kabbadi is played on a rectangular 13-x-10 meter field that is divided into two halves by a line drawn across the middle of the field. A team is comprised of seven players, but not all seven players take the field at a given time (the others remain in reserve in “waiting blocks” three meters away from the end lines). A match usually is made up of two 20-minuet halves with five minute interval in between.

Play begins when one player called a “raider” crosses the middle line into the territory of his opponents. While in his opponents territory the player shouts “kabbadi, kabbadi, kabbadi, kabbadi” continuously in one breath and tries to capture an opposing player. If the raider touches an opposing player and crosses back into his territory the opposing player is out and the raider’s team gets a point. While the raider is in the opponent’s territory his opponents are trying to grab and hold him. If the raider pauses and breaths and stops saying kabbadi before he crosses back to his territory he is out and the opponents get a point.

When a player from one team completes his turn as a raider. The other teams gets its turn and sends over a raider. If a raider touches two players and returns safely to his territory all the players he touched are out. If one team manages to get all the opposing players out it gets a bonus of four points and both sides bring back all their players.

It s a very physical game with a lot of wrestling as a raider tries to get back to his territory while his rivals are trying to keep him where he is. A raider just has to get any part of his body over the middle line to be declared safe. If opposing players go out of bounds while trying to hold him or escape they are out. Sometimes it is difficult to tell if a raider has stopped saying kabbadi or not. There are rules that prohibit the opposing players from trying the stop the raider’s breathing. If an opposing players does such a thing he is out. The are also rule against players having greasy substances on their body or having fingernails long enough to seriously scratch someone.

Cockfighting in Southeast Asia

Cockfighting is popular in Southeast Asia, especially in the Philippines, Thailand and Bali. In Thailand, competitions are held in sand pit arenas. There is a shrine in Thailand that is filled with statue of roosters. It is dedicated to a 16th century national hero, who was fond of cockfighting.

Melanie Brandy wrote in City Life, Chiang Mai: “Gambling on cockfighting is illegal, but it is one of the few forms of illegal gambling ‘overlooked’ by authorities. For those interested in seeing a cockfight it can be tricky finding one as venues are not openly advertised...Cockfighting can be an all-day affair. Whisky is drunk, food is eaten and bets are placed. Bookies are easy to spot, with their swiftly moving hands indicating the current odds. Basic knowledge of sports betting is helpful in deciphering how to wager and a little Thai doesn’t hurt either. [Source: Melanie Brandy, City Life, Chiang Mai, October 2003 #]

“Cockfighting is a rural sport and symbolises the rural Thais’ appreciation of a good, honest fight. Unlike other Southeast Asian countries, the bout does not last until death and Thai cockfighting does not include spurs, hooks or razorblades. It’s a match of true strength and will. Before the matches begin, owners of the sparring birds take extensive time comparing the cocks to determine the fairest fights. Bouts usually last around 15 minutes. If a cock tries to run away or screams in earnest two or three times, the match ends and the winner is determined. Injured cocks are sewn up by onsite surgeons and the next match begins.” #

The cockfighting industry was hard hit by the bird flu epidemic in Southeast Asia in the mid 2000s. The sport was banned because the birds were often transported long distance for fights and there worries infected roosters could spread the disease to areas that had not been affected. Some owners treat their injured fighting cocks by sucking the bird’s blood. The practice is quite dangerous with bird flu present.

Cockfight in Chiang Rai

Describing a cockfighting event in Chiang Rai, Thailand, Alan Sipress wrote in the Washington Post: “On a recent Sunday, Phapart Thieuviharn, a lifelong cock breeder with intense brown eyes and black hair speckled with gray, pulled up at the cockfighting arena as the dirt parking lot was beginning to fill with pickup trucks. Spectators, mostly men from surrounding provinces, crowded three rows of concrete bleachers below a corrugated metal roof. As the elegant, long-legged roosters began to stalk each other, cries rose from the crowd. Many people barked out wagers. Most pressed closer, in some cases leaning into the ring. [Source: Alan Sipress, Washington Post, April 14, 2005,=]

“As the pair of fighting cocks lunged at each other through the air, spectators surged against the edge of the ring with anticipation. Feathers flew. Blood oozed from wounded eyes and throats. Phapart shifted anxiously on the edge of his seat in the concrete bleachers, clutching the notepad on which he had scribbled his bets. Within moments, when one of the roosters surrendered to its injuries and retreated, hundreds and perhaps thousands of dollars would change hands in the arena, located down a dirt track deep in the rice paddies of northern Thailand. =

“Between the 20-minute rounds, the owners scrubbed the blood off their birds with bare hands, wringing out the rags on the ground. Then, with ordinary thread, they stitched the wounds around their eyes and fed them painkillers. Sometimes, Phapart recounted as he watched the hurried surgery, the injuries are so severe that owners relieve the swelling by sucking out the blood by mouth. =

Raising Fighting Cocks

Alan Sipress wrote in the Washington Post:“Phapart, 47, recalled learning to raise cocks from his father and grandfather. As a boy, he refused to go to the barbershop unless he could take along his favorite rooster. As a teenager, he rose hours before school began to train his cocks and then pitted them against those of his teacher. "When you raise fighting cocks, you see them from the moment you open your eyes in the morning. You can even recognize the way each one coos," Phapart said, wearing a green work shirt and chomping on an ever-present piece of gum. "You have a very close relationship with your fighting cocks, and the closer you are, the more confident you are about their health. You know their condition." [Source: Alan Sipress, Washington Post, April 14, 2005 *]

"When you raise fighting cocks, you see them from the moment you open your eyes in the morning. You can even recognize the way each one coos," Phapart said, wearing a green work shirt and chomping on an ever-present piece of gum. "You have a very close relationship with your fighting cocks, and the closer you are, the more confident you are about their health. You know their condition." *

“At a training session “in a farmhouse on the edge of town, two trainers were teaching young cocks to feint and dart by thrusting more seasoned roosters toward them. The men clasped the birds in their bare hands, and their forearms were scarred and swollen from the errant attacks of their pupils. "Train harder," Phapart told them. "They're not really strong enough." At the next stop, a large exercise facility where several roosters had just completed their morning sparring, the trainer was bathing them with a hot, moist towel, scrubbing each feather individually and massaging their muscles. Then, with his fingertips, he fed them a special dish made from the minced flesh of a river fish famed for its brawny nature, mixed with honey and herbs. Fighting cocks represent a lavish investment. A proven winner can sell for as much as $2,500, Phapart said. *

Cockfighting in the United States

In 2008, Louisiana became the last state to outlaw cockfighting in the United States. In 33 states and the District of Columbia, it is a felony. Virginia toughened its law to make even attending organized fights a felony. The sport remains legal in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa. Cockfighting has a long history in the United States and was a hobby of presidents. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson all enjoyed the sport. Abraham Lincoln got his nickname Honest Abe as a cockfight referee. [Source: Carol Guzy, Washington Post, August 15, 2008 **]

Describing a cockfight in Louisiana Carol Guzy wrote in the Washington Post: “Weapons are usually strapped to the legs of each rooster. Some prefer razor-sharp knives, but with gaffs that resemble three-inch ice picks, the fights last longer, Bunch explains. As roosters face off in the circle, hoots and hollers echo throughout the bleachers sprinkled with spectators. Gambling at cockfights has been illegal since the passage of a state Senate bill last year, but the winner of the derby collects a purse from entry fees. **

“The spectacle begins, and a flurry of feathers flashes as the birds engage in a furious, fatal dance. Men try to revive the faltering roosters by sucking from their beaks the blood pooled in their lungs. Some wounded birds continue to drag themselves around the pit until, finally, with a mortal stab, the bird dies. The limp body is carried to the trash. "In a way, it's a loss and you feel for the bird itself because you know he did the best he could," Bunch says. **

See Bird Flu

Soccer in Asia

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is the top organizing body for soccer in Asia. There are two distinct regions: East Asia and the Middle East. The AFC has been headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia since 1965. Some want it to be moved to a Middle Eastern country such as Qatar or United Arab Emirates. In the early 2000s teams from Oceania such as Australia, New Zealand and Samoa began competing with Asian teams for World Cup berths.

The Asian Champions League — Asia’s soccer club championships — is run by the AFC and runs for eight months beginning in March. Asia used to have two club soccer championships: the Asian Club Championship and the Asian Cup Winners Cup. In 2001, the two were merged into an Asian Champions League built along the European model. In 2008, the Asian Champions League was revamped and expanded from 28 to 32 teams from 10 countries and the prize money was increased to $14 million. The total budget for 2009 was $20 million, a big jump from the $4 million in 2008. The prize money for the overall winner in 2009 was $1.5 million, with each group winner taking home $40,000.

Strong Asian teams include Gamba Osaka and the Kashima Reds from Japan, Jeonbuk Hyundai and Hyundai Ulsan from South Korea , big-spending Guangzhou Evergrande from China, Brisbane Roar from Australia,Al Ittihad and Al Hilal from Saudi Arabia, Al Arabi from Qatar, Lekhwiya from Iran, . The champion in 2011 was Qatar’s Al Sadd. It beat Jeonbuk Hyundai in the finals in a penalty shootout. Al Ittihad has won the title three times.

World Cup: 4.5 teams from Asia and Oceania (the fifth place team plays a team from another region with the winner earning a World Cup berth). It used to be four teams. Before that it was three teams, plus the winner of a game between the forth best Asian team and the best team from Oceania. In 1999, the entire Asian delegation stormed out of a FIFA meeting to protest the allocations of spots to Asian countries. The Asian delegates wanted five spots (two for the hosts South Korea and Japan and three others) in the 2002 World Cup. FIFA was only will to grant four spots. Asia had 4.5 spots in 2006 (with the fifth place team playing the forth place from North America); 4.5 spots in 2010 and will have 4.5 berths again in 2014.

The qualifying for Asia teams for the 2010 World Cup began with five groups with four teams in each group for a total of 20 teams. The top two teams from each group qualified for the next round. The 10 teams were split into two groups. The top two teams from each of these groups qualified for the World Cup. The third place teams played for the right to play the top teams from Oceania. The winner of that game played the fifth place team from South America, with the winner of that game earning a berth to the World Cup. The qualifications began in October 2008 and ran September 2009.

The Asian Cup is Asia’s premier national team competition. Launched in 1956, it is played every four years, usually in the summer, and was last played in 2011. The next one is in Australia. Japan has won it last three out of four times. Iraq won it 2007. South Korea won the first two tournaments. Iran was strong in the late 60s and early 70s. Saudi Arabia dominated in the 1980s and early 1990s. Israel won it 1964 but now competes in Europe.

According to data from the mid 2000s, about 35 million people played socer but adult amd youth female participation was less than 1 percent. At soccer games fans often cheer when their teams has the ball, not just when there is a scoring as is the custom in Europe.

European Soccer Clubs in Asia

Teams like Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona. AC Milan, Juventus are all tried establish a presence in Asia for marketing and profit-making purposes. They have plans to open official stores, themed cafes and set up fan clubs.

There has been some discussion of have English Premeir League teams play regular season games in Asian nation such as Japan, South Korea and Qatar. Premier League games are hugely popular on television in Asia but some worry that too much money is spent on broadcast rights for foreign teams rather than on developing local talent.

Asian Players on European Soccer Teams

In April 2011 AP reported: The bank that sponsors Liverpool wants the club to bring in high-profile Asian players.Standard Chartered executive Gavin Laws outlined his hopes for Liverpool in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, saying the bank sees great potential for the club to increase its exposure in the Asian market - where it does most of its business.

"The real power for what Liverpool could do for us, and I think for the English Premier League, is if there was a way they could nurture foreign players from Asia ... a great Asian player - you see what Park Ji-sung does for Manchester United," Laws, the bank's head of corporate affairs, said at the SoccerEx conference. "The markets in Asia and the Middle East are so nationalistic, they are very proud about their countries. (Matches) become huge events. One appearance from a player, say from Dubai in the Premier League, and you'd have the whole of Dubai watching it."

"The market is saturated in Europe with so many clubs, how many more merchandise sales are they going to create over the next 10 years?" Laws said. "If the clubs want to do merchandise sales going at an exponential rate you've got to be in China, you've got to be in Korea really getting all the people excited about the game."

In July 2008, AFP reported: Manchester United and other English clubs might have Asians in their squads but you won't find one at Chelsea with chief executive Peter Kenyon ruling out "gimmick" players. Kenyon admits it is a huge market they are keen to tap, he is not interested in hiring players unless they are good enough. And he doesn't think any from Asia are. [Source: AFP, July 28, 2008]

"Our view is that the selection of our players is the ability to be in the Chelsea team," he told AFP. "We are not interested in gimmicks. We are not interested having say an American or an Asian in the team because it represents another revenue stream," he said. Asked if there was an Asian player who was good enough to make the 23-man squad, he replied: "I'm not sure there is one. This isn't anti-Asian, but just the competitive nature of the game. We have 23 players and over last few years have seen the best from many countries and they've not been able to get in our team."

Asian Billionaires Seek English Premier League Teams

In 2007, Ben Sheppard of AFP wrote: “Wealthy Asian businessmen are competing to buy top-flight English football clubs, attracted by the irresistible combination of profit and sporting glory. Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire football fanatic who was Thai prime minister until ousted by the military last year, now owns 66 percent of Manchester City and looks close to completing a takeover. And directors at promoted Premiership side Birmingham City have recently agreed to sell 30 percent of their shares to Hong Kong tycoon Carson Yeung, despite reported interest in the club from Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal. [Source: Ben Sheppard, AFP, July 5, 2007]

Industry experts say the trend is likely to continue as English football becomes ever more popular among Asia’s vast and increasingly wealthy population -- bringing with it the promise of booming income from TV rights and merchandise.”Asian businessmen want to own English football teams because they see Asia, particularly India and China, as the biggest developing market for the Premiership,” said Philip Long, football specialist at London accountancy firm PKF.”The worldwide love of football is focused at the moment on the English game, and the Asian fan base is well-established and growing fast.”

But Long warns that Asian investors are not just signing another business deal when they buy into the Premiership. “Anyone investing in football is making a partly rational, partly romantic decision. That can be a dangerous mix,” he said. “It is a different type of investment to any other. “Undoubtedly these businessmen know it is a sector that involves a great deal of publicity, and perhaps that’s what they want. But when you buy a football club, you are taking on many responsibilities.”During a losing streak, you must expect to have thousands of people chanting abuse at you.”Fans can be very fickle and their financial investment in the club is probably limited to their season ticket, even if they have a huge emotional investment.”

Long has a word of warning both for Asian businessmen craving a Premiership team and for fans who imagine a wealthy Asian buyer may turn their club into world beaters.”There is growth in the game now but perhaps it will plateau out soon like Formula One,” he said. “And we will see which of these deals actually goes through. Talking about buying a club is one way to attract headlines, but it is a different matter to completing the sale.”

One British academic who is advising an overseas consortium on Premiership takeover targets agrees that it is an investment area characterised by high drama and risk. “English soccer is the biggest league in the world with a global audience and hence is attracting international interest,” he said, on condition of anonymity.”The prestige and status are unique, and new television deals are perceived as offering new value. But the downside is that the current owners are extracting the surplus value when they exit.”

Several English clubs are have toured in Asia to boost their support in the region, with Manchester United, Liverpool, Portsmouth and Fulham all playing fixtures. The visitors exemplify the changing face of Premiership boardrooms with Manchester United and Liverpool owned by American tycoons and Portsmouth and Fulham bought up by magnates from Russia and Egypt respectively.

Meanwhile the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is also running the 16-nation Asian Cup in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.The AFC said it would “obviously” prefer Asian businessmen to invest in the region’s own clubs. But, despite such hopes, the pull of the Premiership seems likely to remain strong for Asia’s wealthiest.

Referee Problems in Asian Soccer

Reuters reported: the 2004 Asian Cup was plagued by poor officiating and there have been further problems during the qualifying competition for the 2006 World Cup. Tough measures were needed to raise standards, the AFC’s director of referees Gary Power said. “It is a positive approach because by using only the best referees the risk of errors will be minimised,” he told Reuters. [Source: Reuters, May 25, 2005]

Three hotly disputed goals helped Japan to beat the hosts 3-1 in the final in Beijing, provoking a furious reaction from Chinese fans who burned Japanese flags and fought with riot police. A quarter-final between Japan and Jordan ended in farce when Japan’s players persuaded the referee to switch ends during their penalty shoot-out, to Jordan’s fury.

A World Cup qualifier between North Korea and Iran in March was marred by crowd trouble after fans in Pyongyang reacted to a late sending-off by hurling missiles. China’s domestic league was almost brought to a standstill last season after accusations by several clubs that corruption among referees was rife. The AFC took Syria’s Abbas Mahmoud Ashek off their elite panel of 50 FIFA-accredited referees, citing poor performances at the Arab club championship.

AFP reported in July 2007: “Four referees officiating at the Asian Cup have been suspended for substandard performances, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said.They include Masoud Moradi from Iran and his compatriot assistant Sokhandan Reza for their officiating of the Qatar versus United Arab Emirates group match. Both were suspended until further assessment. Also earning a black mark was Singaporean assistant referee Yew Mun Tang, who officiated in the Saudi Arabia-Uzbekistan game and is suspended until further notice. Lebanon's Najm Talaat was suspended for one month for his poor performance in the Vietnam-UAE match. [Source: AFP, July 29, 2007]

Asian Soccer Chief Fired Over Bribery Charges

In 2011 the head the AFC, Mohammed bin Hamman, was dismissed from his position after being given a lifetime ban from soccer after being accused by FIFA of bribery during his failed bid to become FIFA’s president. In July 2012, AP reported: “The man in charge of Asian soccer, once a candidate to oust FIFA President Sepp Blatter as the sport's worldwide leader, enriched himself and handed out hundreds of thousands of dollars to friends and relatives, according to an audit obtained by The Associated Press. Mohamed bin Hammam, a 63-year-old Qatari whose life ban from football was overturned in a sports court earlier this week, is accused of using the Asian Football Confederation bank accounts to conduct his private affairs. [Source: Graham Dunbarmichael Casey, AP, July 20, 2012]

”The audit was prepared by the international accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers. It offered rare details of the usually secretive accounts of not-for-profit football bodies handling hundreds of millions of dollars. And it portrayed a man who was running Asian soccer like a family business, negotiating contracts on his own and mingling his personal and AFC bank accounts. The audit was especially critical of bin Hammam's use of AFC accounts for personal expenses, although there was no evidence of direct payments to bin Hammam. "It is highly unusual for funds (especially in the amounts detailed here) that appear to be for the benefit of Mr. Hammam personally, to be deposited to an organization's bank account," the audit said. [Ibid]

”He received millions of dollars from individuals linked to AFC contracts, according to the audit, and spent tens of thousands of dollars on items like a honeymoon for his son and dental work, haircuts and cash payments for his family. It found he spent $700,000 from AFC coffers on himself and his family, including $100,000 for his wife, $10,000 on a Bulgari watch for himself and nearly $5,000 for his daughter's cosmetic dentistry. Payments were also made to Asian, African and Caribbean football officials, including $250,000 to Jack Warner, the longtime strongman of Caribbean football. [Ibid]

"The arrangement with Mr Hammam's use of the sundry debtors account is, in our view, highly unusual and reflects poor governance," the audit said. "This use by Mr Hammam of the sundry debtors account continued even after the external auditor's recommended that it be stopped. Our review indicates that it was common belief that this account was for Mr Hammam personally and all funds flowing through it were his personal monies. "We question why Mr Hammam would conduct his personal financial transactions through the AFC's bank accounts when the documents we have seen indicate that he already has several personal bank accounts in various countries," the audit said. [Ibid]

”The Asian governing body, which he has led since 2002 was advised to seek "legal advice in respect of ... whether the actions of Mr. Hammam, and other parties identified in this report, constitute criminal and/or civil breaches." Bin Hammam was suspended for 30 days by the AFC following receipt of the report last week. The audit found that a contract for commercial rights with World Sports Group and its subsidiary World Sports Football were no-bid contracts that were "considerably undervalued." A $14 million payment from companies with stakes in WSG, Al Baraka Investment and Development Co. and International Sports Events Company, was made to the AFC for the "personal use of its president," the report said. Bin Hammam also approved several lucrative, no-bid contracts for commercial rights, including one for Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera Satellite Network. [Ibid]

”The audit said its review of the AFC accounts found that it routinely handed out tens of thousands of dollars in cash to federation presidents and their relatives. Most of it went to their personal bank accounts and none of it was for football related expenses, it said. Gaurav Thapa, whose father heads the Nepalese federation, received $100,000 while a Filipino football official Jose Mari Martinez received $60,000 and had $20,000 in hospital expenses paid. Another $50,000 went to an East Timorese football official Francisco Kalbuadi Lay, the audit found. Another $25,000 went for tuition expenses for a Bangladesh football federation spokesman and $20,000 to cover the cost of cancer treatment for the federation's general secretary. Also, nearly $2,000 was spent by Bin Hammam to buy 14 shirts for Blatter and nearly $5,000 went toward the purchase of suits for Issa Hayatou, the CAF president. [Ibid]

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, The Guardian, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

Last updated November 2012

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