Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Gazprom and European football: When two kleptocracies meet

"Gazprom is acting as the extension of the Kremlin kleptocracy"

Jürgen Roth 
German investigative journalist, whose book, "Gazprom - Das unheimliche Imperium" (Gazprom - The sinister Empire) has recently been published

Why do the big clubs of Europe – Bayern, Manchester United, Barcelona, Internazionale, et al – need UEFA and FIFA when the two bodies have hitherto demonstrated they are opaque entities governed by self-interest, overseen by incompetent and oftentimes corrupt kleptocrats and almost completely oblivious to the desires of players, club owners, corporate sponsors and fans?

Karl Heinz Rummenigge
President, European Club Association

We are now told that Russian Gazprom will be Uefa´s official partner for the Champions League

Gazprom will be Uefa's sixth official partner for the upcoming three editions of the Champions League.

The Russian energy giants will promote its products via Europe's most elite club competition from 2012 to 2015 as well as the next three European Super Cups.

"Gazprom is a global energy company and the Champions League will benefit from Gazprom's presence in more than 20 European countries and many more around the world," David Taylor, CEO of Uefa Events SA commented to Soccerex Business Daily

"We expect that involvement with the Champions League will assist Gazprom to help build their brand awareness and identity on a global stage."

In a recent article, Jürgen Roth describes Gazprom´s kaleidoscope of blackmail for exercising influence in Europe: 

 In 2006, Elmar Brok, member of the European Parliament for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), raised the alarm about Gazprom’s expansionary efforts. Before that, Gazprom had announced that it would partly shut off its gas supplies to Europe if its plans for expansion in Europe were blocked. “Brok warned that the Russian energy company was pursuing a strategy not only to become the EU's biggest energy supplier, but also to gain control over the supplier networks and transit rights to ensure that “nothing happens without Gazprom.” 
Being dependent means being prone to blackmail. Consumer prices can be increased without really provoking resistance whenever it seems necessary – even if the reason is simply to exercise political pressure. 
Latvia’s oil supply was shut off in 2003; the same happened in Lithuania between 1992 and 2002 and once more in 2006. Poland was cut off from gas in 2004, and the Czech Republic from oil in 2008, not to mention the so-called ‘gas war’ between Russia and Ukraine in 2006.  In January 2006, the most important German oil refinery in Schwedt stopped receiving oil via the pipeline with the fitting name Druschba (friendship) and in Leuna, oil deliveries were also halted a year later for “business reasons". 

What should one then make of Uefa´s deal with Gazprom?

Well, maybe that´s what happens when two kleptocracies meet ...

Maybe Gazprom´s brand new representative in Germany was the man who secured the deal for Putin´s energy outlet ?

Soon we will probably have to get used to this kind of images when FC Bayern Munich again tries to win the Champions League:

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