The corruption and hypocrisy of John Delaney

The John Delaney and FIFA / FAI €5 million bung episode gets more and more outrageous. Delaney, the FAI chief executive is currently being revealed to be about as honest and incorruptible as ex-Vice President of FIFA Jack Warner.

A summary of the background of this scandalous episode (which most readers will already be familiar with) is as follows:

Henry Handball

Click image for match report

In November 2009, France and Ireland faced each other in the second leg of a World Cup qualification play-off match in the Stade De France, Paris. The match ended in a 1-1 draw (and France won 2-1 on aggregate to advance to the 2010 World Cup finals). During the match, France equalized after striker Thierry Henry had blatantly handled the ball in the Irish penalty area.

In June 2015 it was revealed that the Irish FAI had received a payment of €5 million (on January 15, 2010) from FIFA related to Ireland’s non-qualification for the World Cup 2010. The nature and transparency of this payment remains unclear.

My interpretation of these events follows below.

First of all, Ireland were not winning that match in Paris when Thierry Henry cheated – it was a draw. This vital fact is constantly overlooked in the Irish media.

Ireland would have had to go on and win the match, were they to qualify for the World Cup finals – a fact which somewhat nullifies the request to be admitted to the World Cup finals as the 33rd team – this request was cringeworthy and embarrassing.

It’s not a surprise to me that FIFA President Sepp Blatter laughed at that unprecedented request – a lot of people did, including many in Ireland.

Neither Thierry Henry’s cheating nor Sepp Blatter’s scorn presented a viable basis for a legal challenge to Ireland’s non-qualification for the World Cup 2010.

As Irish football pundit Eamon Dunphy correctly observed on RTE, during the past week, there would be 11 (or 22) law suits after every football match, every weekend, if the results of matches were to be legally challenged because of cheating – considering that fact that all (or most) players cheat constantly in order to get the best possible result for their respective teams.

People who have actually played football to any kind of a good standard (i.e. not John Delaney) will know that cheating happens all the time in football, on all sides – but only cry babies go looking for the result of a match to be changed, or with their hands out looking for cash as ‘compensation’.

Frank-Lampard

Click image for match report

To give but one example – did England get a result change, a re-match or compensation in the World Cup 2010 because of Frank Lampard’s over-the-line ‘goal’ against Germany that was not awarded?

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Dunphy Delaney

“like something from The Sopranos”

Although, in the same interview on RTE, Dunphy was just as hypocritical as Delaney when he commended the FAI chief executive for ‘chancing his arm’ and getting the €5 million payment from FIFA – because if this deal was brokered for a Caribbean or African country, both Dunphy and Delaney would be calling those nations ‘corrupt’ and ‘cheats’ – as they frequently do.

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Furthermore, if the €5 million was supposed to be ‘compensation’ for the nation and supporters of Ireland for losing out on the glory of qualifying and participating in the World Cup, then why did Delaney wait until the corruption scandal at FIFA finally erupted (almost 6 years later) in 2015 before releasing details about the payment?

Delaney then quickly changed his story and said it was a ‘loan’ which was given on the understanding that it would be returned to FIFA if Ireland were to qualify for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Does that story sound plausible? Was there ever any prospect of Ireland paying back the ‘compensation’ (or ‘loan’)?!.

Delaney is running scared presently, rightly afraid that he will lose his plush job (he definitely should lose it) and he is now attempting to muddy the waters further by claiming that the money was given to the FAI because of “FIFA’s decision – in the weeks before the play-off games in late 2009 – to seed the draw” (Irish Independent).

So which is it John? Please try to get your story straight.

Was the €5 million a ‘compensation’ or a ‘loan’? [UPDATE: the FAI are now referring to it as an ‘inducement‘ – you couldn’t make this stuff up – but the FAI are trying their best].

Was it because Ireland were denied the right (what right?), due to cheating (which happens in every sport) to win a match which they were only drawing at the time of said cheating?

Delaney Blatter

“Blatter ‘made a skit’ of Ireland, says Delaney”

Or was it because Ireland’s reputation was besmirched by Sepp Blatter?

Blatter never used any bad language when making the scornful comments about Ireland’s ridiculous request to be the 33rd team at the finals.

Yet it was acceptable for Delaney to tell him (Blatter) “how I felt about him, there were some expletives used” (Irish Independent) when he went to beg FIFA for €5 million.

Is Blatter counter-suing Delaney for this slander? I doubt it. Pure hypocrisy by Delaney!

Or maybe it was because FIFA changed the rules regarding seeding weeks before the play off with France? – In that case why did Ireland not seek the ‘compensation’ before the match even kicked off? Or threaten not to play the match in the first place?

By the way, it doesn’t matter if every single penny of the €5 million is accounted for and was spent on the Aviva Stadium construction project, as claimed by Delaney. The fact that the FAI did not have to spend the same amount from their own funds means that the outrageous salary (and expense accounts etc.) of Delaney could remain intact during a period of time when all the supporters (and citizens) of Ireland (who were blissfully unaware of the €5 million payment) were living through a period of harsh austerity.

If it looks like corruption, and sounds like corruption, and smells like corruption, then it is corruption.

Conclusion: John Delaney needs to immediately resign as FAI chief executive – he is just as corrupt and dishonest as Sepp Blatter.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The useless Aer Lingus ‘Gold Circle Club’.

If you fly on Aer Lingus and are thinking of joining their so-called ‘Gold Circle Club’ – don’t bother. You will be completely wasting your time.

I am (supposedly) a member of the Gold Circle Club and so is my mother.

In the past year we have booked many flights with Aer Lingus, and apparently (in theory) have accumulated air miles from flights back and forth to places as varied as London (several times), Berlin, New York, Washington, Chicago, Southend and the Isle of Man.

However, the true nature of the programme is revealed when you try to:

  1. Register as a full Gold Circle Club member; or
  2. Claim air miles for flights taken on Aer Lingus; or
  3. Use accumulated air miles to book flights or to attempt to access ‘a range of quality services provided by our programme partners’ (Aer Lingus website).

First of all, you don’t become a full member straight away after registration – you are merely classed as a ‘Gold Circle Club Applicant’ (thanks for the privilege Aer Lingus):

  • Quote: Your account is currently at applicant status. Applicant Points cannot be         redeemed for awards either with Aer Lingus or its partners”

Next, when you try to claim air miles for certain flights (which you have already taken, or are about to take) – you are told that such claims are ineligible:

  • Quote: We are unable to action this as the flights in question were booked under a Sale/Discounted fare and do not qualify for points”

Thirdly, when you actually try to use the miles that you have accumulated, further conditions are introduced:

  • Quote: To become a Gold Circle Club member you need to earn 2,400 Application points within a 12-month period (excluding bonus points or non-air partner points). Gold Circle Club membership cannot be purchased. You have earned 800 points in the last 12 months”

It’s very enlightening to look at the language that Aer Lingus (@AerLingus) use to structure and manage their ‘Frequent Flyer Programme’ (the one that doesn’t allow most loyal customers to get off the ground in reality).

cannot be redeemed

we are unable to action

do not qualify

excluding bonus points

cannot be purchased

etc. etc. etc.

It makes you wonder why Aer Lingus bothered to set up the scheme (and it is a ‘scheme’ – make no mistake about that) in the first place, when it constantly requires the airline to give negative answers to its patrons.

Customers are frustated and confused by these restrictions and suspect that Aer Lingus does not give a jot about its regular flyers, but habours a bias towards business travellers (hence the 2,400 points required within a year to actually become a fully functioning member of the ‘club’.).

Futhermore, time has to be wasted by customers in seeking clarification on their entitlements (or lack thereof) AND by Aer Lingus staff who must reply with further negative answers.

One of the cardinal rules of business is to try to avoid saying no to customers if there is a chance to say yes and an opportunity to engage in a successful transaction or relationship.

Bearing this in mind, I’d like to say in specific terms, and directly to Aer Lingus:

Don’t set up a Frequent Flyer Programme if your heart is not in it and you really have no intention of using it to provide any additional benefits or bonuses to the vast majority of your customers; especially when your real intention is just to squeeze as much money as possible out of them. 

In this day and age people can see through such tactics and Aer Lingus would be better advised not to have a Frequent Flyer Programme at all (like Ryanair) – rather than finding it necessary to put restrictions upon, or make negative and misleading statements and claims to passengers.

Here are some other links, with comments from other consumers regarding the Aer Lingus Gold Circle Club. On the next page of this blog post I have included a reply I sent to John at Aer Lingus this morning. Safe flying people.

Am i alone in being completely bemused by how Aer Lingus’ gold circle works?

Aer Lingus Gold Circle – Useless?

fed up with gold circle customer services

Aer Lingus

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Apartheid and Pragmatism

The prominent Irish economist, journalist and author David McWilliams penned a short tribute on his blog to the recently departed Nelson Mandela here, yesterday.

The title was: “His pragmatism was the key to building a new South Africa

Here’s my very brief response to that article, where I compare Nelson Mandela’s pragmatism in South Africa to Gerry Adam’s (continuing) pragmatism in Ireland.

Freedom Fighters

“Nelson Mandela fought apartheid in South Africa and won.

Gerry Adams fought apartheid in Northern Ireland – and won.

Both were brave freedom fighters who devoted their lives to a worthy cause.

It amazes me how people in the Republic of Ireland today, both old and young (some of the young being Che Guevara t-shirt wearing liberals – another brave freedom fighter) can’t say Gerry Adams’ name without getting a bad taste in their mouths.

Civil Rights in Northern IrelandIf you deny men and women a right to work and to feed their children (a prominent aspect of apartheid in both South Africa and Northern Ireland) they are going to fight back – they have a right to.

I wasn’t in favour of the IRA in my youthful innocence – now as a mature man and a father, I realise they were right to do what they did.

                                                                          There’s your pragmatism.”

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ICE Ireland ‘Currency Exchange’? – NO THANKS!

Currency Exchange

One of the worst things that a business can do is to say to a customer: “we don’t do that here sorry” – especially when it would take no extra effort or expenditure to facilitate a successful transaction and, more importantly, to enable a pleasant interaction which might lead to a future relationship of mutual benefit.

Case in point: I am waiting at Dublin Airport before boarding a flight to Southend in 2 hours time. I’m flying to the UK in order to attend the Bitcoin Expo at Brick Lane, London tomorrow.

Bitcoin Expo

Last month I visited friends in the beautiful Isle of Man and I still have 25 pounds sterling left over from that trip in my pocket (pictured below). It’s legal tender but it’s issued by the Isle of Man government with a Manx design on the notes.

I asked the lady at the currency exchange (pictured above) if she would mind changing it to regular British sterling because the Manx currency will not be accepted in shops in mainland UK (although most high-street banks will make the exchange).

Ten Pounds

However that was more than her job was worth (or perhaps it is company policy?) so she refused to help me. I’m positive that the firm in question – ICE Ireland Currency Exchange makes regular trips to their bank to change currency back and forth so why couldn’t they help me out with this simple exchange?

I won’t be using this firm again to change currency anytime I am travelling. I’ll take extra time necessary to find another currency vendor – for instance, their competitor Bank of Ireland, who also have an outlet in Dublin Airport.

Bitcoin

The sooner Bitcoin is the world’s currency of choice, and we no longer require the services of currency exchange parasites – with their unaccomodating customer service, lopsided conversion rates and hefty transaction fees, then the better for us all!

Addition: Moneycorp at Southend Airport – which is actually in the UK (!) would not facilitate this simple currency swap either – I guess they don’t understand the meaning of good customer service either!

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Looking forward to Kilkenomics 2013!

KilkenomicsTomorrow afternoon I will take a 2 hour journey by train from Adamstown station, near my home in Lucan, County Dublin.

I’m embarking on my yearly pilgrimage to the Marble City of Kilkenny in south-east Ireland, in order to attend the 4th annual edition of the ‘Kilkenomics‘ festival.

Me and David McWilliams, 2009

Me and David McWilliams, 2009

Kilkenomics is the brainchild of Irish “economist, broadcaster, journalist and best-selling authorDavid McWilliams. It has been running since 2010 and I’m delighted to say that I have been able to attend the event every year so far.

Kilkenomics “brings together some of the world’s leading economists, financial analysts and media commentators with some of our funniest, sharpest standup comedians”.

A total of 27 stimulating, entertaining (and sometimes hilarious) shows will be held at 4 venues across the medieval city from Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th – bringing together an eclectic mix of renowned economists and comedians from Ireland and further afield.

The first show I will be attending on Friday evening is entitled ‘SHOW ME THE MONEY: HOW DO WE MAKE MONEY WORK FOR US AND WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?‘ and the main attraction at this show, for me and many others, will be the inimitable American broadcaster and commentator Max Keiser.

Me and Max Keiser, Kilkenomics 2012

Me and Max Keiser, Kilkenomics 2012

One of the questions on the agenda for this show is “Can innovations like bitcoin and microcredit eventually bypass banks altogether?” and given my current obsession with Bitcoin I am eagerly awaiting Max’s insights on this topic – for instance, does he still think that one unit of Bitcoin could rise to a value of $700,000 ?- a development which would make me a very rich man indeed!

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As usual, I’ll be staying at the Castle Lodge B&B where proprietor Liam Hennessy is always a gracious host. The rooms are modern, clean, comfortable and warm, the WIFI is fast and free, and Liam always provides a hearty breakfast to assist with the inevitable hangovers (from all the economic over-stimulation of course – not the free flowing Kilkenny beer!).

For lunch I can recommend Ristorante Rinucci on The Parade – located just across the road from Kilkenny Castle for some delicious and medium-priced Italian fare, washed down with wine and Peroni.

Later on in the day – before, after and in-between shows, most of the earnest (and hard-drinking) festival goers will gravitate towards ‘Langton’s‘ – a gigantic and labyrinthine 75-year old establishment on John Street that hosts multiple bars, numerous restaurants, a night-club, a hotel and a state of the art venue called The Set Theatre in which 11 of this year’s shows will take place.

I actually had a meal in Langton’s while on my (first!) honeymoon way back in 1995 but didn’t remember this fact until I set foot in the place again at the first Kilkenomics festival in 2010 and got an immediate sense of déjà vu!

However, my absolute favourite pub in Kilkenny is Cleere’s on Parliament Street where a roaring fire and friendly atmosphere are always found. I’m looking forward to catching up with the charismatic Johnny behind the bar, who’s a good man to talk to if you are looking for a ticket for a sold-out show in the function room at the back of the pub (but keep that information to yourself!).

Every year David always manages to spare a bit of his over-worked time, usually on the Saturday evening, to meet up with some of the prolific contributors to his long-running blog on his website here. I’m hoping that this year will be no exception to that tradition!

To finish, here’s a video that anticipates the fun this weekend. Hope to see you there!

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My Introduction to Bitcoin

BitcoinI have recently become interested and invested (on a small scale) in the crypto-currency known as Bitcoin.

Bitcoin was conceived of in 2008, by a mysterious individual (or, some say, a group of individuals) known as Satoshi Nakamoto, when he released this academic paper.

Irish readers might be interested to know that a post-graduate student of cryptography at Trinity College, Dublin, named Michael Clear was once identified as being the true Satoshi Nakamoto.

Many people find Bitcoin difficult to understand but there are plenty of links on the Internet which are useful when it comes to grasping the concepts involved.

Here is an enlightening video from www.weusecoins.com

As mentioned in the clip, Bitcoin can be generated in ‘blocks’ by anyone with a computer and this activity is known as ‘Bitcoin mining‘.

However, recently the CPU power required to mine Bitcoins has become prohibitive for smaller miners, meaning they are unlikely to be able to mine enough value in Bitcoins in excess of their computing and electricity costs, therefore Bitcoin mining is becoming the preserve of larger operators.

Nevertheless, by its nature, Bitcoin possesses a number of advantages when compared to traditional currencies, as issued by the central banks of sovereign nations (or federal entities like the EU, in the case of the Euro).

Bitcoin is the “first decentralized digital currency” – which means that it is not hosted on one central server, but rather it resides, and perpetuates itself, as a distributed currency on networks and nodes across the entire Internet.

Bitcoin can be used online to transfer digital cash from person to person (or ‘peer-to-peer’) without the need for a bank or clearing house, which means (for businesses and individuals) that there are no set-up costs, lower fees, no chargebacks and the ability to make instantaneous micropayments – e.g. for the equivalent of cents in value.

Nowadays, Bitcoin can be used to make purchases from many different online vendors and it is increasingly being accepted offline in more and more worldwide locations such as restaurants and pubs.

Indeed, one American couple recently set out to see whether it would be possible to “travel the world using nothing but Bitcoin” and you can read about their colourful adventures here.

Bitcoins are stored in accounts called ‘wallets’ such as provided at Blockchain and they cannot be frozen, because if a wallet provider goes offline, a user can simply restore his or her balance to another wallet by using an offline back-up of their transaction history.

To fund a Bitcoin wallet from a bank account or credit card, users may use a Bitcoin ‘exchange’. An example of a popular exchange in the United Kingdom is bitbargain, while Bitstamp has a reputation for reliability in the United States.

In Ireland, where I am located, Eircoin claims to be the country’s “only Bitcoin broker”, but this position is sure to be challenged in the near future as the use of Bitcoin spreads – and competition increases in an expanded market.

Eircoin, headed by the helpful David Fleming currently only allows its clients to buy Bitcoins and does not facilitate them to sell their coins peer-to-peer, although this may change soon.

Another very convenient option for Bitcoin users is PikaPay, which sends Bitcoins using Twitter IDs and is as “Easy as a Tweet“. PikaPay also gives away free Bitcoins to help new users get started.

In late October, Vancouver in Canada became home to the world’s first Bitcoin ATM which allows patrons to exchange cash for Bitcoin and vice-versa.

Currently, Bitcoin is trading at approximately US $200 per unit but American broadcaster Max Keiser, who visits the Kilkenomics festival in Ireland next weekend, has predicted that the price of one Bitcoin could rise as high as US $700,000 over the next few years.

Considering such guesstimates, it is not surprising that small-level speculators, and some larger ones such as the infamous Winklevoss twins have positioned themselves in Bitcoin and these investors will have had their hopes raised this week when news emerged of a Norwegian man’s remarkable enrichment to near-millionaire status from his almost forgotten purchase of 5,000 Bitcoins for a measly US $27 in 2009.

Putting speculation aside, the future viability of Bitcoin depends on it achieving widespread acceptance and adoption which might lead to less volatility in its exchange rate with the major currencies of the world.

Bitcoin has been (probably unfairly) connected with dubious and outright illegal online activity. However, when the price of Bitcoin recovered quickly from the closure of notorious contraband website, The Silk Road, in early October 2013 these associations were somewhat diminished.

Shortly after, when leading hedge fund manager Michael Novogratz recommended investing in Bitcoin and remarked that the crytpo-currency would “be worth a lot” in the future, it acquired additional credibility

From a libertarian perspective the appeal of Bitcoin is its freedom from the shackles of central bank interference – which currently includes, for example, the USA’s and UK’s fiscal policies of quantitative easing (which essentially involve a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich through inflation, as well as borrowing from future generations to pay for present excesses).

The relative anonymity of Bitcoin also makes its transactions difficult to tax, which is another attraction for those who wish to avoid government intrusion in their lives.

Additionally, because the amount of Bitcoins which will be mined in total is limited to 21 million, on a decreasing basis over time (approximately 12 million have been mined to date) it has a built in deflationary bias although this is not seen as a positive attribute in some quarters. In this regard a more balanced assessment of Bitcoin can be found on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, here.

Of course, no one knows what the future holds for Bitcoin, but with my small investment, I am personally hopeful that it will gain in popular acceptance and appreciate at a steady and sustainable rate.

In the meantime, I am accepting donations in Bitcoin, to help with my PhD studies which are concerned with the role of Social Media in Sustainable Business Development – I wonder can I shoehorn Bitcoin into my thesis at some point?

Please send Bitcoin donations to this address:

17mfBvRBK7KLc8E8sscumhQLvgAWwVnoms

Bitcoin QR Code

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