Know Before You Go: Spanish Elections, Fifa Ban, and Miss Universe Debacle

Here are the Top Five Stories that you need to know this week!


  1. Spain’s Political Election
    Spain Election Results (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: For years, conservative parties the Popular Party (PP) and the Socialists (PSOE) have been the driving force in Spain. After the weekend elections, two new parties have stepped up: the anti-austerity Podemos and the centrist Ciudadanos. Even though the conservatives took most of the votes, it was not enough to secure a majority. This means that King Felipe VI will have to nominate a Prime Minister, who then will have to get the approval of the parliament. This nominee would be named after each party talk with Felipe and would not happen until after January 13th. The leader of the PP, incumbent Mariano Rajoy, is still claiming that his party is the “number one force”. However, the Socialists, led by Pedro Sanchez, will not back any government that Rajoy would be leading. Even if the conservative groups paired up with the new parties, there still would not be enough seats for a majority. For more information on this story, visit
    • Why You Need to Know This: If you are planning on being in Spain at any point in the next semester, this will be a hot topic. Not only is it a monumental shift if political parties, but it could also mean the search for a PM could get dragged along for weeks. Also, with no steady majority in parliament, how will things change when it comes to adopting laws and making new ones?

      From L to R Pablo Iglesias of Podemos, Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, Albert Rivera of Ciudadanos Citizens and PP leader Mariano Rajoy
      Leaders of the 4 Spanish parties that are now in Parliament: From left to right, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, Ciudadanos Citizens leader Albert Rivera, and PP leader Mariano Rajoy, current PM (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • Office Top Tip: Spain’s government will be a focal point in Europe. Read up on the key players and if you’re in Spain, expect that this will be something talked about.
  2. China Landslide
    View of the devastation that the landslide caused (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: In South China, the city of Shenzhen was struck by a massive landslide. With mud reaching up to 32 feet, 900 people were evacuated from the area, along the border with Hong Kong. As one of China’s biggest cities and one of the main industrial cities, the 455,000 square yards that were covered were apartments for workers were located. 3 apartment buildings, factories, offices, and more were covered. At this time, 80 people are still missing (59 men, 32 women) and the race is on to find them and save them. The landslide has also caused an explosion at a local pipeline. For more information on this story, visit
    • Why You Need to Know This: This is sadly not the first natural disaster to hit Southern Asia these past few months. There is still not clear cause of the landslide. Locals are saying that it could be from an illegal landfill that was located just outside of the city. Full of dirt and construction materials, it could have easily contributed to the landslide. However, there is not much known about the cause as of this time.

      Buildings collapsed by the landslide (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • Office Top Tip: As we say when any natural disaster hits, be aware of the safety procedures in the cities that you visit. The probability that something will happen while you are there is very slim, but we’d rather that you take precautions.
  3. Football Ban for FIFA Head
    Blatter, at Press Converence
    Blatter, head of Fifa, at the press conference after news broke of his eight year ban (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: In this case, the kind of football we’re talking about is the world definition, soccer as we Americans like to say. Early this week, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) saw its President become banned. Sepp Blatter, who had already announced his decision to step down from the Presidency that he has held since 1998, was found guilty in an ethics investigation. Blatter, along with UEFA (the governing body for European football) President Michel Platini, were found guilty of “abusive execution” in their positions. The main statement reported that an “oral agreement” in 1999 was the reason for a payment made in 2011, but it had “no legal basis”. Both men were deeded “conflict of interest”. They have both been placed under an eight-year ban from all activities regarding football. Although they have not directly come out to say that Blatter had given Platini any bribe money, there was still enough evidence to bring down severe punishment. For more information on this story, visit
    • Why You Need to Know This: This has been a rough year for Fifa. Seven officials were arrested in May, while the U.S. is charging 39 officials over $200 million dollars for accepting bribes. Switzerland is also involved, investigating Fifa management as well as whether awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar were legitimate. With the Fifa elections coming up on February 26th, more governments are pushing for transparencies in Fifa governance.

      Blatter with the US Women 1999 champions
      Blatter with the US Women’s World Cup Champions in 1999 (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • Office Top Tip: Football is very popular around the world. Fifa and UEFA are the top bodies when it comes to football in Europe. Having both presidents accused of corruption is a huge blow to the organizations that are the heads of European football. It will be very important to see what Fifa and UEFA do next in the wake of these allegations and bans.
  4. UN Peace Plan for Syria
    Man amid the rubble in Syria (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: Last week, the United Nations came together to talk about a peace plan to end the violent conflict that is taking place in Syria. The resolution passed and laid out a clear plan for talks and a unified government, hopefully within six months. While many Western countries have been hoping for Bashar al-Assad’s departure from Syria’s Presidency, the resolution makes no mention of him or his future with Syria. Russia and China have been two of the countries that have been supporting him in his power. With a ceasefire planned for early January and elections held in at least 18 months, Syria now has a chance to decide its own future. However, the country’s ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari saw the irony in letting the UN talk about Syria deciding its future while insisting on getting Assad out of power. Although ceasefire will begin in January, this does not include terrorist groups such as Islamic State; the US coalition and Russia with both be able to continue their attacks on the terrorist groups on Syrian soil. For more information about this story, visit For the UN Security Council Resolution, visit
    • Why You Need to Know This: Syria is now in their 5th year of civil war. With IS spreading throughout the country like wildfire, it is important that the country ends the turmoil that has struck them for so long. The UN has made this timetable very achievable and very simple in hopes that each side can sit down in January so that they can attempt to talk out their issues. More importantly, they have stated that all parties cease attacks against civilians; more than 250,000 have already died and millions have fled the country.
    • Office Top Tip: The biggest issue here is elections. As Jaafari stated, the UN is attempting to oust Assad, but what happens if he is voted to stay in power? Is the end of the civil war with the peace talks or with a change in government and leadership? Once again, we are left waiting to find out.
  5. Miss Universe Debacle
    Miss Philippines in shock after being announced Miss Universe (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: Sunday night, the Miss Universe pageant was held, but what was taken away was not a shining moment, but a horrible gaffe by the host, Steve Harvey. Harvey mistakenly named Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez as Miss Universe when in actuality she was the runner-up. Miss Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach ended up as the winner of the pageant. Harvey took responsibility for the mistake, for he did not read the winning card correctly. For more information on this story, visit
    • Why You Need to Know This: Miss Universe pageant brings together women from all over the world and is a world-wide event. A mistake this big by Steve Harvey made things awkward for all, not only in Las Vegas, but around the world.

      A little bit of awkwardness between the accidentally crowned Miss Columbia and the real Miss Universe (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • Office Top Tip: If you’re doing some announcing, be sure that you read the cards before you say anything. It will save you from the awkwardness that Harvey had to endure for his mistake.


Check back next week for more news so you can Know Before You Go!

All stories are based off of information gather from CNN, the New York Times, The Guardian, The BBC, and the Telegraph.


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