Campaign Discrediting UEFA Was Likely Organised By Its Own Ukrainian Vice-President, - According To The Investigation Of British Journalists.

This summer European football was to find itself embroiled in a huge scandal. Western and Ukrainian media revealed information that UEFA had allegedly financed corruption in Ukraine. British journalists conducted their own investigation and found out that all the accusations against both UEFA and the Football Federation of Ukraine were fake news.

At the beginning of August 2018 the Swiss magazine L'Illustré published an article titled “Dangerous connections with UEFA”. The author of this article, Swiss citizen Arnaud Bédat, told Europeans that allegedly the money allocated by UEFA for the development of Ukrainian football for children was used instead to build a commercial factory producing artificial turf for football pitches, and also that Ukrainian Football leaders with the help of UAE company pocketed 20% of this money. And that is not all, you are about to find out more. Arnaud Bédat’s statements got even more revealing. According to him, it turns out that this factory is mystical and has never produced artificial turf for football pitches.

At this point, observers from Ukraine and Western countries started doubting the honesty and openness of this journalist. Arnaud Bédat was never interested in Ukraine, and had never written about the country previously. Only once before does he appear to have paid his attention to Eastern Europe. This was when he wrote complimentary information about the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a notorious gangster and human rights violator.

Actually Arnaud Bédat simply repeated information that had been actively spread in the Ukrainian media in the previous months. Hundreds of articles with the same titles and statements – all this seemed to be a planned information campaign against the FFU management and UEFA.

So what is really going on in Ukrainian football? Are the accusations of corruption against the local management true? British journalists tried to find the answers to these questions. Working on their documentary “Muddy Waters” they came to Kyiv and met with the FFU officials, representatives of this so called mystical artificial turf factory, coaches for children, and, importantly, local journalists.

In reality this factory exists and it is functioning – that is what the FFU president Andrii Pavelko told to the British journalists. The Football Federation built this factory using its own money from selling TV rights. The information that the money came from UEFA HatTrick program is fake.

“No money from the HatTrick program was used for the FFU  artificial turf factory. Because money from this HatTrick program is allocated by UEFA for specific projects. It is a separate program and separate financing. Separately we have our own incomes from selling TV rights, and not UEFA, but the FFU and its acting executive committee decide what to do with this money” – the FFU President Andrii Pavelko informed the British journalists.

“First of all there was no loan, any kind of loan from UEFA. So, the money that we used for the purchase of the equipment - that was FFU money, which was centralised by UEFA for our TV rights, the only thing we asked from UEFA was to get it a bit earlier” – the FFU General Secretary Yurii Zapisotskyi added a bit later.

Also, according to the journalists, there is no corruption connected with the UAE company, that Arnaud Bédat had written about earlier. They showed the documents obtained from the FFU. And there is really a letter from Polytan company – one of the world's leading artificial turf manufacturers.

“During negotiations the company in the United Arab Emirates was proposed by Polytan. Troubles concerning the geographical location and logistics of the suppliers I mean UK, Denmark, United States… So we had an official letter from Polytan that this very company was recommended for us to fulfil the whole project of the creation of the artificial pitches factory.” – Yurii Zapisotskyi confirmed.

Actually, preparing for his investigation the Swiss journalist could have obtained the same information. But strangely, he did not ask the FFU for any explanation, this way probably violating journalist standards concerning giving the right to an explanation.

Instead, the Swiss journalist continued revealing so called corruption in the FFU on the air of Ukrainian 112 TV channel. Later his interview was spread by other Ukrainian media. 

So who is trying to discredit UEFA and Ukrainian football management? During the interview with the British journalists Andrii Pavelko stated that he “knows who and why wants to do this…and that they have specific goal”

In the documentary British journalists suggested that “the prize in this domestic disinformation war could be the seat at UEFA’s top table.  Previous Head of the FFU, Hryhorii Surkis has been on the Executive Committee of European football’s Governing body since 2004, but in the coming elections, the FFU has nominated Andrii Pavelko instead.”

Current UEFA vice-president Hryhorii Surkis’ mandate in UEFA is going to end in February 2019. That is why it is easy to suggest that his desire to be re-elected for the position in the European Football management is exactly the reason behind this huge information campaign against current Ukrainian football management. It is an attempt to put pressure on Andrii Pavelko and make him refuse from running for UEFA management position, this way offering the candidacy of Hryhorii Surkis instead.

It can be possibly be proved by the fact that the Swiss journalist we mentioned before spread his accusations on the air of 112 Ukraine TV channel. According to Natalia Lihachova, editor-in-chief of the “Detector Media” web-site (specialized edition analysing Ukrainian journalism) the owner of this TV channel is virtually Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who has connections with Hryhorii Surkis.

“We’re well aware that Viktor Medvedchuk, who chose Putin as godfather of his daughter, has huge influence on NewsOne and 112 Ukraine TV channels and the Detector Media has testimony of former and present workers of the TV channel that in the conversations of the management team regarding the tasks, Medvedchuk was mentioned.” – Natalia Lihachova stated during the interview.

All this really looks like an information campaign against UEFA and the FFU management. This artificial turf factory really exists, it is not mystical, Ukrainians built it with their own money, without any loan from UEFA, and the deal with Polytan and the involvement of the company from UAE is not a whim of the Ukrainian side, but a demand from its German partners.

Recently, the “Muddy Waters” documentary has been presented in London and its Ukrainian version will soon be broadcast on Ukrainian TV.

Read also: Did UEFA Vice-President Surkis Collude In Corrupt Deal To Give World Cup 2018 To Russia?

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Phillipe Jeune

Phillipe Jeune

Phillipe Jeune is a Paris-based freelance journalist, and an occasional contributor to EU Today. He has a background in intelligence gathering, and he specialises in business matters, with a particular interest in Central Asia and the Middle East.

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