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Who owns what? The extent of foreign investment in Australian football

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Australia’s ‘A-league’ has grown considerably in recent years, yet still lurks in the shadows of the AFL and NRL – unable to attract the sponsorship and audience of the country’s major sporting codes.

Despite this, the A-league has attracted a swathe of foreign investors who view the league as a small, burgeoning market, ripe for foreign investment and growth.

But exactly how deep these investments run throughout the league remains unclear.

A recent investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners revealed that almost half of the clubs in the A-league are owned by foreign investors – each with a peculiar backstory.

The program exposed the foreign entities funding Melbourne City, Sydney FC, Brisbane Roar, as well as the unknown Dutch consortium backing Adelaide United.

Last seasons premiers Melbourne City (formerly Melbourne Heart) were famously snapped up in 2014 by the City Football Group, (CFG) the sports investment company headed by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family.

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak (left) pictured with owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (centre) and vice-chairman Simon Pearce (right)

CFG own a majority stake in a range of clubs around the world – its flagship team Manchester City is a footballing giant on the English and European stage.

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and vice-chairman Simon Pearce, aside from their football interests, are both senior advisers to the Abu Dhabi government.

Al Mubarak also serves as an adviser to the Crown Prince and de facto ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is deputy supreme commander of the nation’s military. 

‘Sportswashing’ accusations levelled at foreign investors

The United Arab Emirates have long been criticised by humanitarian organisations for human rights abuses, as well as the ‘soft power’ strategy employed by the government to portray the country as a progressive nation.

Amnesty International has called for urgent action in the A-league, accusing the City Football Group and its owners of ‘sportswashing’: using the positive publicity garnered by the success of their clubs to rehabilitate their nation’s image.

Melbourne City is one of several CFG clubs, including Manchester City, that are being used to promote next month’s World Expo in Dubai.

The Bakrie Group seized control of the Brisbane Roar in 2011.

Brisbane owners linked to match-fixing scandal

Brisbane Roar is fully owned by an Indonesian conglomerate known as the Bakrie Group, who have extensive mining, banking and agriculture interests.

Their purchase of the Roar in 2011 marked the first time an A-league club would be fully owned by a foreign entity.

The head of the Bakrie family is Aburizal Bakrie, an Indonesian politician and former chairman of the infamous Golkar political party, widely known for its history of corruption.

The Bakrie Group own Brisbane Roar through an Indonesian holding company, Pelita Jaya Cronus.

A director at the company and former acting chairman of the Indonesian soccer association, Joko Driyono, was charged in 2019 for interfering with evidence in a police investigation into match-fixing in Indonesian football.

Joko Driyono is a director at Pelita Jaya Cronus, the holding company of the Brisbane Roar.

Driyono served an 18 month prison sentence and has since been released, resuming his position on the board of directors at Pelita Jaya Cronus.

It is uncertain as to whether competition regulator Football Australia is aware of how closely connected Driyono is with Brisbane Roar, or if they are aware of his connection to the club at all.

Exactly how much money foreign investors have injected into the A-league isn’t publicly available

Football Australia relinquished control over the A-league last year, handing commercial control back to the clubs.

The wealthy business owners and global consortiums with controlling interest in clubs were given direct say in how the competition and their teams would be financed.

There are currently no figures which track investments into teams, and A-league clubs operate as private companies who aren’t required to disclose financial statements.

This leaves an obscure and often complex paper trail which poses a significant challenge to transparency and accountability in Australian football.

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Reports of discrimination against pregnant and disabled workers at Amazon

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Amazon is under fire for allegedly discriminating against some of its pregnant workers and workers with disabilities

New York’s Division of Human Rights filed a complaint against the company with Governor Kathy Hochul announcing the move on Wednesday.

Amazon is being accused of failing to provide these workers with the correct pay, forcing them to take unpaid leaves of absence.

There are multiple reports that the company did not follow guidelines with its workers, one pregnant worker was initially given approval to avoid lifting packages over 11 kilograms, but was then made to lift heavy items anyway by a manager.

Amazon did not provide this worker with accommodation after they were injured and instead placed them on indefinite unpaid leave, according to the complaint.

The company is being examined for its failure to accommodate these workers, and allowing managers to override safety recommendations.

Such actions are against breach New York’s Human Rights Law which protects pregnant and disabled workers from discrimination within a workplace.

Amazon is now being urged to “pay civil fines and penalties to the State of New York” and to fix its discriminatory practices.

Amazon’s spokesperson has denied its wrongful conduct saying the company offers “the best available options to accomodate” such employees.

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New York man sues McDonalds for burgers not looking like photos on ads

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Those late night McDonalds ads with the crispy lettuce and soft bun, makes the mouth water…. but one New York man has beef to pick

The man says McDonalds and Wendy’s have misleading adverts that are unfair and deceptive.

He says make their burgers look much bigger than they actually are.

In a proposed class-action lawsuit, he is seeking $50 million in damages for himself and other similarly duped customers.

The chains did not comment immediately on the suit.

Rival Burger King was hit with a similar lawsuit in Florida in March, by the same law firms representing New Yorker Justin Chimienti.

While Burger King has yet to respond in court, an amended complaint shows that more unhappy customers have signed onto the suit.

According to complaints quoted in the BBC, the companies’ adverts are “unfair and financially damaging consumers as they are receiving food that is much lower in value than what is being promised.”

The “actions are especially concerning now that inflation, food, and meat prices are very high and many consumers, especially lower income consumers, are struggling financially,” they add.

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U.S. stocks plunge – markets have biggest daily drop in 2 years

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U.S. markets have had their biggest daily drop in almost two years, as investors evaluate the impacts of higher prices on earnings and the possibility of monetary policy tightening

The S&P 500 dropped by 4 per cent, while the Nasdaq fell the most amongst other major benchmarks.

Meanwhile, retailer Target down was down more than 20 points in its worst performance since 1987, and Apple and Amazon.com both slid.

The U.S. dollar rose against all Group-of-10 counterparts, except the yen and Swiss franc.

The S&P is slowly emerging from its longest slump since 2011, but rebounds are fragile amid tightening policy, the war in Ukraine and lockdowns in China.

It comes as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warns U.S. central bank will raise interest rates until there is “clear and convincing” evidence inflation is in retreat.

Looking to other parts of the world, and Europe saw new-vehicle sales shrink for a 10th month in a row.

Over in the United Kingdom, inflation rose to its highest level since Margaret Thatcher’s reign 40 years ago.

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