Dikembe Mutombo Linked To Gold Running Scam

Fascinating story here and tragic if it turns out Deke isn’t the great guy we’ve come to know over the years.  From the Houston Chronicle:

One-time NBA star Dikembe Mutombo has made a worldwide name for himself sponsoring humanitarian projects and noble causes in his native Africa, so it was only natural that two State Department officials would meet with him in November 2010 as part of his effort to bring more attention to the bloody trade in conflict minerals that has bedeviled his homeland, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Less than two weeks later, according to a U.N. report, Mutombo was in New York on a more personal cause — trying to interest a Houston oil executive in a $10 million deal to buy 1,045 pounds of gold from the mines of eastern Congo, the heart of the conflict mineral trade.

If Mutombo had reservations about the apparent contradiction between word and deed, he did not show it. He eagerly explained how he and his family had 4 tons of Congolese gold just waiting for a buyer.

Because of an internal ban on mining and exports, imposed to try to stop the main revenue source for the mafia-like militias that controlled them, the gold could not be taken to market in usual ways. What Mutombo needed was somebody with money, connections and the ability to put a deal together.

Really hoping his motives or role in this wasn’t sinister and that it doesn’t get linked back to the conflict mineral trade.

[Houston Chronicle]


Weirdest Thing I Learned Today: China Is Building Soccer Stadiums For Poor Countries In Exchange For Political Favors

This is the most bizarre sports-related story I’ve come across in some time.  From The Football Ramble:

On Saturday, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid kick off at the Camp Nou and the Mestalla, respectively. Between the two clubs, thirteen players return from international duty with Spain. With Euro 2012 qualifying over, these players earned quite a few frequent flyer miles courtesy of a trip to Costa Rica, which was more or less 30 hours of flying at 30,000 feet from Heathrow and back to Spain.

It’s no mystery as to why Spain traveled all the way down to San José. Money was waiting to be collected. Lots and lots of money. And at the moment FEDEFUTBOL, Costa Rica’s football federation, is sitting on a massive pile of cash.

Relative to Costa Rica’s socio-economic conditions, this money is an absolute anomaly. Though wealthier than surrounding nations such as Nicaragua, Costa Rica’s estimated income per capita is only just over $11,000 USD. But in the world of football, Costa Rica opened a 35,100 seat, $105 million Estadio Nacional in March, with money left over for high profile friendlies against Argentina, Brazil and Spain. There was even room to accommodate concerts from Shakira and Pearl Jam. The state-of-the-art stadium also has a running track, so a bid for the Pan American Games seems imminent.

If you’re a fan of ‘Los Ticos’, life seems pretty, pretty good. However, if you’re an average citizen, you’d be right to raise an eyebrow. This lavishness was funded entirely by the Chinese government.

They’re essentially holding countries hostage by going at what matters most to the countrys’ hearts: soccer. 

Go read the rest of it, truly fascinating.

[The Football Ramble]