Prospect of West Ham takeover worries Uefa president

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The Independent Online

Lennart Johansson, the president of Uefa, European football's governing body, yesterday warned that takeovers of clubs by foreign investors - as is likely at West Ham - could lead to an increase in illegal betting.

West Ham's Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano are effectively the property of Media Sports Investment, the company that runs Corinthians, the former club of both Argentine players. Speculation has grown that Kia Joorabchian, an Iranian-born businessman who was the driving force behind the arrivals of Tevez and Mascherano at Upton Park, is now putting together a takeover bid for West Ham with Middle Eastern money.

While there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing at West Ham, Johansson said deals like this had to be watched carefully. "We are looking into club ownership, illegal betting, a list of problems, and need to come up with proposals but we are only at the beginning of the process," Johansson said at the start of a three-day World Cup post-mortem organised by Uefa and Fifa, the governing body of world football . "I'm not happy with individuals owning players and we are doing our utmost to change the system.

"This West Ham case illustrates the problems. Take illegal betting, if two clubs in the same competition are owned by the same person through 'daughter companies', then they know how much money they can earn through betting. We had things under control, we had them in order. Now comes the financiers, and it is a problem."

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