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; FIFA under Fire on Two Fronts; Nigerians Flee Boko Haram; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 27, 2015 - 14:00:00   ET



FRED PLEITGEN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: Blatter's empire investigated. FIFA is rocked by two simultaneous corruption probes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they did have in common was greed, greed that drove them to use and exploit their positions for cash.



PLEITGEN (voice-over): And the aftermath of terror: the head of the ICRC about his trip to Northern Nigeria and the horrors of Boko Haram.


PETER MAURER, PRESIDENT, ICRC: They are traumatized by what they are experiencing and they lack everything which they need to make their life a

human life and a dignified life.



PLEITGEN: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Fred Pleitgen, sitting in for Christiane all of this week.

Straight to our top story: World football's governing body, FIFA, has long had an air of untouchability. But now it finds itself on the defensive on

two fronts.

First, a U.S. indictment and the arrests of several FIFA officials in Zurich today, including two vice presidents. FIFA boss Sepp Blatter is not

under arrest or facing changes by the Americans, but that part of the investigation is ongoing.

The U.S. attorney general says the charges stem from racketeering, fraud and money laundering over two decades.


LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: They were expected to uphold the rules that keep soccer honest and to protect the integrity of the game.

Instead, they corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and to enrich themselves. This Department of Justice is

determined to end these practices, to root out corruption and to bring wrongdoers to justice.


PLEITGEN: And that's not all. Separate to that, Swiss investigators raided FIFA's offices today and announced a probe into the last two awarded

World Cup bids, Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. Sepp Blatter was set to be elected to a fifth term at FIFA's World Congress on Friday, but now it

seems the authorities have rained on his parade.


PLEITGEN: All right. Let's discuss all this with Dave Zirin. He's the sports editor at "The Nation." He's written very extensively on FIFA and

he joins me now from Washington, D.C.

And, Dave, one of the sad things about all this is that many people who got this news very early this morning were not actually surprised by the -- by

the charges but were actually surprised that people apparently are being held accountable at FIFA.

DAVE ZIRIN, "THE NATION": Yes, that's exactly right. I mean, the idea of being shocked about bribery and racketeering in FIFA is like being shocked

about jumping into a pool and finding yourself wet.

What makes this particularly different is the fact that this time it looks like the charges have real teeth. I mean, coming from the U.S. Department

of Justice, that's a first. That's never happened before. And the fact that Loretta Lynch has decided to start so high up the food chain in FIFA

with two vice presidents, that also says that if those guys want to stay out of trouble, they might have to flip on someone even above them and

that's where you get to Sepp Blatter.

And if Sepp Blatter is pulled into this, then we could talk about the end of FIFA as we know it.

PLEITGEN: One of the interesting things that happened is that FIFA apparently tried to show that it was calm in all this, that it was going

along with the investigation. I want us all to listen into what the spokesman for FIFA had to say. Let's just take a listen.


WALTER DE GREGORIO, FIFA DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: For us, for FIFA, this is good. This is good what happens. It confirms that we're on the

right track. It hurts. It's not easy but this is the only way to go.


PLEITGEN: Now I saw you shaking your head the entire time that that was on.

What do you make of what he said?

ZIRIN: Well, I have a friend who's on the inside in Zurich right now. And after that press conference, he texted me, "Don't confuse calm with shell-

shocked," because it might seem very calm and say this is good; he said to me, don't believe or take with a grain of salt everything that FIFA is

saying right now. They are absolutely shell-shocked. This is -- this does not show that FIFA's on the right track.

What is shows is that FIFA cannot, contrary to what it has said for so many years, police itself. And that's what people like myself have said for

years. There's no internal mechanism for policing FIFA. So how can we take them seriously when they say they police themselves?

Well, this time, the U.S. Department of Justice stepped in. And it's important for people to realize that this indictment only covers North

America and a little bit of South America.

So we're talking about just the tip of the iceberg here, if these vice presidents speak about corruption in a broader global sense.

PLEITGEN: But there have been allegations in the past. And there's been widespread criticism of Sepp Blatter. And it seems as though his strategy

in the past has simply been to sit things out.

Is he going to be able to do that? Because you're talking about -- what are they saying -- $150 million over the years in bribes allegedly paid. I

mean, if you're the head of the organization, either you weren't doing your job or you knew about it.

ZIRIN: Yes. There are already broad calls for Sepp Blatter to step down. He has an election tomorrow for a fifth term -- I'm sorry; Friday for a

fifth term. And it's still thought that he is going to coast to victory on Friday unless they decide to delay that election, which is certainly


But when he is reelected, it's just going to become another round of media mockery towards FIFA that they would reelect this man. In the past, he has

been able to insulate himself. In the past, he has been able to say that he would -- just was not aware that he was ignorant. It's the old Captain

Renault from "Casablanca" line, "I'm shocked there's gambling going on. Here's your winnings, sir."

But I think in this particular case, the fact that people so high up have been arrested, it immediately puts Sepp Blatter in the crosshairs. And he

was not mentioned by name by Loretta Lynch, but she so pointedly said we're looking back two decades.

How long has Sepp Blatter been in charge? Seventeen years. That sounds a lot like two decades to me.

PLEITGEN: The interesting thing is we've actually just heard that there was just now a statement by Sepp Blatter, which came out in the past couple

of minutes, because he was very silent on Twitter, elsewhere, throughout the day.

And he said that such conduct has no place in football and that he himself is frustrated by the pace of change.

What do you make of that?

ZIRIN: I think that Sepp Blatter is completely, completely out of his depth in responding to this. His fingerprints are all over the awarding of

the World Cups in Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022. FIFA has already pledged that those World Cups will go on as planned. As you mentioned,

there is now a parallel investigation looking into that.

I mean, Sepp Blatter either looks like the most ignorant fool in the world or somebody who is using self-righteous blather as a way to cover up for

his own complicity. And nobody thinks Sepp Blatter a fool. So that really gives us only one option to consider.

PLEITGEN: What do you think is going to happen at this congress?

You say you know people who are there, who are on the inside. We obviously have journalists there as well, and they go ahead with this election. He's

being elected to a fifth term. That's something that in itself has caused a lot of criticism. And now you have this bombshell going on that he's

just now reacting to.

Can an election be held?

Even UEFA says it shouldn't be.

ZIRIN: Yes, I mean, hilariously, someone, one of the leaders from the British faction a day ago said that they thought this was going to one of

the more boring World Cup congresses in memory. So that's rapidly being reassessed.

This is one of those minute-by-minute stories, so I can tell you that right now, the plan for FIFA is to hold the elections Friday and right now the --

it just looks so clear that he's going to coast to reelection. His only opponent is a 39-year-old Jordanian prince with no experience. He's

effectively running unopposed.

The question, though, as this story shifts, minute by minute, is will FIFA feel enough pressure to either delay the elections or will they frankly

crush under the weight of their own corruption and Sepp Blatter will actually step down before Friday?

I believe that every option is on the table.

PLEITGEN: The interesting thing is that this has been a very resilient organization, as we've said, in the face of a lot of criticism that's been

going on around the World Cup bids for 2018, for 2022, around some of the conduct that's been going on in Qatar in building many -- not only the

venues but many of the infrastructure around it and many of the other allegations.

Do you think that they are now concerned about not the existence of FIFA but the existence of the power of FIFA as it is right now in world football

and also of course politically and commercially as well?

ZIRIN: Yes. FIFA, as we know it, is going to have to change. And there is a lot of concern and a lot of painful pangs as that change comes to be.

FIFA has always operated as a very cloistered, a very, very private kind of club. And that's very difficult to do in a WikiLeaks, 24-hour media world,

where news like of the hundreds of deaths in Qatar as they prepare to build these World Cup stadiums -- and that's the number, hundreds of deaths of

Nepalese migrant workers -- that's not the sort of news that can be pushed to the side anymore like it was in the '70s, '80s and '90s. These things

now travel at rapid speed; the images are all over the place and Sepp Blatter is being held accountable for things that existed in a previous

media environment, where few people were the wiser or only the insiders were cynical and rolling their eyes at every charge without this level of


The question is can FIFA survive as a private organization in this atmosphere of scrutiny? I think the answer is no and at some point it is

going to have to crack and exist as two bodies, one that exists to promote soccer internationally and one that exists to actually police things, like

match fixing and bribery.

Right now FIFA does both. And that's just a recipe for wolves guarding the henhouse.

PLEITGEN: Dave Zirin, thank you very much for your insights in Washington, D.C. Thank you.

ZIRIN: Thank you.


PLEITGEN: And just another quick update for you, the Independent Ethics Committee has banned 11 individuals from football activity, which means

that they will not be able to vote in the election for the next president; that, of course, is coming up on Friday.

And as we said, we'll wait and see whether or not that actually happens; of course, all of this story moving very, very quickly. And also very clearly

it's been a very busy and international day for the U.S. legal system as a whole by the likes of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, chase FIFA, other

American prosecutors are targeted a member of Nigeria's parliament as a new member of the Nigerian Senate is facing extradition after accusations of

him being a drug kingpin. You heard right.

And once so famous, he might even be the inspiration for a shadowy drug dealer in the Netflix show, "Orange Is the New Black." And after a break,

we'll stay with Nigeria; the devastating images from the area threatened by Boko Haram when we come back.




PLEITGEN: Welcome back.

Nigeria will inaugurate a new president Friday; Muhammadu Buhari will officially take the reins from Goodluck Jonathan. And he faces enormous

challenges. There's a major fuel crisis going on, endemic corruption and of course the barbaric terror brought on by Boko Haram in the north.

Now few outsiders have seen the extremist group's devastating impact first- hand, but the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross just traveled there. And Nima Elbagir has this report.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Maiduguri on an all-but- abandoned airstrip, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer's plane, comes in to land. The town has been besieged

by Boko Haram for years now. Just days before, Boko Haram launched a fresh attack. But Maurer is here regardless. He wants to show that the risk

here is dwarfed by the needs.

MAURER: I have come to Maiduguri also to encourage others. ICRC alone will not be able to cope with the dimensions of these problems. But we do

our best to set up our operations now.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): It's rare for a president of the Red Cross to speak on record in this way. And when they do, it's to ring the alarm. In this

footage given to CNN by the Red Cross, we're given a rare glimpse into Borno State, the siege capital.

Nigeria's military have succeeded in pushing Boko Haram out of swaths of the country's north. But here in Maiduguri, those gains seem very far


MAURER: Just behind me there are families who have arrived a couple of days, a couple of weeks ago and who don't have any shelter but live just

under the trees. The most of the population in Borno State has been moved to here, Maiduguri, the capital, and which has grown from a couple of

hundred thousands to a city with more than 2 million people. This is a big refugee crisis, one of the largest in the world.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Many came with nothing but the clothes they fled in. ICRC has distributed rations that 8.5 thousands of the families, but the

needs here are overwhelming and the nightmares are never far away.

Elijah Mardu (ph) is 13 years old. He told the Red Cross that when his village was attacked two months ago, he and four friends were taken by Boko

Haram. His friends were killed in front of him for failing to recite verses from the Quran. He passed the test but eventually escaped, dragging

the bullet lodged in his fractured leg.

Mardu (ph) is safe now. But every day more victims of this conflict arise, seeking safety, seeking help.

MAURER: The stories they tell are stories of violence. They have been exposed of fear, of threat, of terror. They are traumatized by what they

are experiencing and they lack everything which they need to make their life a human life and a dignified life.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Squeezed into what little shelter there is, they wait, hungry and desperate -- Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


PLEITGEN: And ICRC chief Peter Maurer is now back in Europe and he joined me earlier to ring the alarm bell on the massive crisis and the tremendous

need in Northern Nigeria.


PLEITGEN: Peter Maurer, welcome to the program.

MAURER: Thanks a lot for having me.

PLEITGEN: So you just flew into Maiduguri, which is a dangerous place at this point. There haven't been commercial flights there in a very long

time. And there are many people who have come to Maiduguri. A lot of the population of that area that has fled from Boko Haram has come to


What are the things that people there are most in need of?

MAURER: What people need most, it's shelter, sanitation, water, food, medicine -- and the ICRC is providing all of that to these displaced


The school systems are out of work. In Maiduguri, for instance, teachers told me that public schools have been closed now the second year in a row.

But there is more. People who come out of Boko Haram-controlled areas in Northern Nigeria have suffered traumatic experiences of violence as they

were chased out of their houses, out of their workplaces, out of their villages and cities.

So we have to caliber (sic) our response, our humanitarian response also, not only to address the physical need but also the traumatic, psychological

experiences that those people have undergone. And we have stepped up our operations in this regard as well.

PLEITGEN: You said that it was very important for you yourself to go there, to see first-hand what was going on. And you've described some of

the horrible things that are going on, people who are still sleeping out in the open, people who don't even have shelter.

What was it that got to you the most emotionally when you were down there? Because you are launching this very emotional appeal now.

MAURER: It's traumatic experiences, from women violated, from teachers displaced and torn out of their activity and their schools being destroyed,

from families separated and displaced over 400 kilometers.

I have been impressed by all those simple citizens in Maiduguri who have been able to host refugee families, displaced families. I have met a

teacher who have hosted 50 people in his house who have been displaced.

This is a city of 1.5 million, which has almost doubled its population over the last 12 months.

PLEITGEN: When you were on the ground, did you get the feeling that this security situation continues to improve? Because we know that the Nigerian

military, along with other militaries, has made rapid advances against Boko Haram, but we also know that Boko Haram is very keen on taking Maiduguri


Are you feeling those security advances because, of course, that's also very important for international aid groups, bringing their personnel on

the ground there?

MAURER: It is well possible that Boko Haram have been defeated here and there in the one or the other military confrontation.

But it is also possible that they have gone underground. And what I felt very much in Maiduguri is the enormous amount of mistrust in the

population. Nobody knows exactly who Boko Haram is and who is a Boko Haram.

And so there is a lot of insecurity still persisting.

PLEITGEN: You said there's a lot of distrust between people there.

How difficult is it going to be, moving forward, for Christians and Muslims to live in that place together?

MAURER: Well, what was quite a comforting experience to me in Maiduguri is that at least the traditional leaders and the traditional religious leaders

and tribal leaders, to whom I had the opportunity to talk, they are very conscious about the possible tensions in the future.

What strikes me at the present moment is -- as you said -- is the enormous mistrust. When I was in the nursery of the hospital that we are

entertaining in Maiduguri, the first aid post for the refugees, there are a lot of newborns.

And of course, because of the pattern of violence and violations that the Boko Haram have been engaged in in the past, there is a general suspicion

that every newborn may be the product of such a violation.

My big fear is that what we see at the present moment is the tip of the iceberg and we will discover much more traumatic suffering as the situation

is hopefully calming down with a more forceful policy also, from the government in Abuja, to help develop the northeast of the country and to

address some of the root causes of this conflict.

PLEITGEN: Well, and as you said right now, the government is in a democratic transition. There will be a new government soon.

Are you hopeful that this new government will tackle the matter, will do more to tackle the matter, will be efficient in tackling this matter?

MAURER: To all those incoming advisers of the new government, I have been able to speak in Abuja, I had the impression that there is a deep knowledge

and consciousness about the delicacy of the moment, about the opportunity this moment offers to change the tide and to address the issue of the

northeast in a more comprehensive way.

The government will need the support of the international community. The government will need to support itself in a more forceful way the

population in the northeast.

And I think they can count on humanitarian actors like the ICRC also to create conditions in which hopefully a more quieter and steady development

is possible in the future.

PLEITGEN: Peter Maurer, thank you for joining the program.

MAURER: Thank you very much for having me.


PLEITGEN: And while Nigeria is trying to force extremism out of the country, Iran is inviting the world to challenge it with art. That's up






PLEITGEN: And finally tonight, imagine a world where a country not necessarily known for freedom of speech creates a contest triumphing

freedom of expression.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): In the face of recent attacks upon political cartoonists, it wouldn't be a surprise if the art form's popularity would

stall. But instead, a new cartoon contest is sweeping the globe and has cartoonists flying into the contest's unlikely host, Iran, and as Tehran's

House of Cartoons stages a competition based on the theme, crimes committed by the Islamic State.

Now we have to keep in mind this is also the organization that hosted the grotesque contest for cartoons of Holocaust denial.

But the theme of the anti-ISIS competition is indeed getting entries from artists from around the world. Many depict the group's tactic of

destroying ancient culture like this one by a cartoonist from Germany, while this Iranian cartoonist shows ISIS fighters leaving their brains and

hearts at the door when they join.

And of course, as cartoonists themselves, some show ISIS attacks on the pencil as petty and futile.

As the artists fly in for the awards ceremony in Tehran, they know the risk they take by speaking out against ISIS. Some are traveling under false

names to protect their identities. But all those taking part seem to be pushing one message above all, that the pencil is indeed mightier than the



PLEITGEN: And the winners of that contest are set to be announced in Iran's capital on May 31st.

And that's it for our program tonight. And remember you can always see the whole show online at, and follow me on Twitter @FPleitgenCNN.

Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.