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GM Soccer Deal Whistle-Blower Said to Bring Down Ewanick

General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson’s conflicts with maverick marketer Joel Ewanick started weeks before he was ousted for not properly disclosing as much as a third of the cost of a $559 million soccer deal, people familiar with the situation said.

Since joining GM two years ago to shake up the company’s culture, Ewanick unsettled the executive ranks with his critical comments about Facebook Inc. and aggressive deal-making approach, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. Akerson chastised him by giving a so-called “Farley Award” over Ewanick’s profanity at a June conference in Cannes, France, said the people. The award, named for Ford Motor Co. marketing chief Jim Farley, who had been quoted cursing about GM, is a reminder to maintain professionalism always, they said.