Archive for the ‘FIFA’ Category
Last laugh is on Premier League boss Sir Dave Richards after embarrassing fall from grace and his “FIFA stole our game” jibe
It is hard to take Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards seriously, not just because he is shockingly naive for a man who represents the most successful domestic football competition on the planet, but because he has the aura of a real-life Mr Bean.
For anyone with a sense of humour it was deliciously poetic that the blundering buffoon was caught on film when he tripped into a water feature on his way to dinner in Qatar after insulting the rest of the world with his comments that FIFA and UEFA had “stolen football” from England.
Richards claimed his comments were misunderstood and he has issued a public apology. But the joke was on him at the International Sport Security Conference when he fell onto his hands and knees in a fountain pool. Richards, who denied he had been drinking, also warned his hosts that football fans from England and Germany visiting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar “have a culture and we call it ‘we would like to go for a pint’.”
“My comments on the heritage of the game were intended to be light-hearted,” insists Richards. “They clearly have not come across in that way and I sincerely regret making them and any resulting negativity that may have been interpreted towards Fifa and Uefa. I will be writing to both organisations in these terms.”
Speaking at the conference in Doha, Qatar, Richards said: “England gave the world football. It gave the best legacy anyone could give. We gave them the game.
“Then, 50 years later, some guy came along and said, you’re liars, and they actually stole it. It was called FIFA.
“Fifty years later, another gang came along called UEFA and stole a bit more.”
Richards’ views were challenged by FIFA vice president Prince Ali Bin Hussein, who suggested that the Chinese invented football.
Blatter’s apology for racist comments is just not good enough and neither is his rebuke for stars like Beckham criticsing him
The problem with Sepp Blatter and his apology for his racist remarks is that he will do and say anything to stay in power. The FIFA President is simply out of touch with the modern world and he just can’t be trusted to be the most powerful man at football’s governing body.
The truth is that Blatter knew his position was untenable if he did not say sorry for causing worldwide outrage for his controversial comments that racial discrimination could be settled with a handshake. And it is simply not good enough to say he is sorry and that he did not expect his comments to cause such a reaction.
Even as he was making his apology in an interview with the BBC, Blatter went on to make further inflamatory remarks that will anger football’s biggest stars – including David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand – for daring to criticise him.
The 75-year-old Swiss, who is being urged to quit by players, fans, officials and politicians, hit back by saying he expected “better understanding from star players”
Blatter sparked universal outrage when he said that on the pitch it is not racism and can be settled with a handshake, but off the pitch it is racism.”
It was a bold attempt to repair the damage when he read out a statement in which he stated: “I started my FIFA career in Africa 36 years ago and it is part of my core values to respect all nations all cultures and I see football as a game that unites people. i am sorry and I regret that my statements earlier this week have resulted in an unfortunate situation. I am committed to the fight against racism. And I have no doubt about that. i want to make it very clear i will not stop until we have stamped out of football racism.”
But the fact that Blatter did not expect his words to cause such a reaction is confirmation that he is not fit to govern football. While his headmasterly rebuke for the players who have condemned him just underlines the feeling that FIFA’s President is a dictator who mistakenly believes he can do no wrong and can stay in power forever.
Players who have publicly criticised Blatter include Andy Cole who said he is “an out of touch buffoon.” Ferdinand said the comments were “so condescending it’s almost laughable”. Garth Crooks admitted he was “shocked” because “”Fifa have a policy of zero tolerance on racism” and the “is not really actually living up to what he signed up to.” Beckham described Blatter’s utterances as “appalling” and said some things “can’t just be sorted out with just a handshake.”
Despite the furore, the FIFA boss will not walk away insisting: ” i can not resign. Why should i resign? This is not compatible with my fighting spirit.”
There is no doubt Blatter is an extremely clever politician and he has done many good things for football during his 13 year tenure as president. But the beautiful game is bigger than any one man and for the good of football Blatter must go before his next big gaffe brings more shame on the world’s most popular sport.
The Blatter controversy comes at a time when Chelsea captain John Terry is being investigated by the police and the Football Association over alleged racist remarks made to Ferdinand’s brother, QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, in a recent game between the two sides. While Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has also been charged by the FA for alleged racist comments towards Ferdinand’s Manchester United team-mate Patrice Evra.
Asked if racism was a problem on the pitch, Blatter told CNN World Sport: “I would deny it. There is no racism, there is maybe one of the players towards another, he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one. But also the one who is affected by that. He should say that this is a game. At the end of the game, we shake hands.”
He also said, on Al Jazeera: “During a match you may say something to someone who’s not looking exactly like you, but at the end of match it’s forgotten.”
Lionel Messi may be the favourite to win the 2011 Ballon D’Or and claim the title of the best player in the world for a third successive year – but it is testament to the progress of Portugal’s Nani that the Manchester United star is included in FIFA’s shortlist of 23.
Nani joins team-mate Wayne Rooney and Manchester City’s new hero Sergio Aguero in a list dominated by the best of Barcelona who have no fewer than eight players nominated. Former United star Cristiano Ronaldo is also included.
But it is no surprise to me that Nani has been elevated to such heights after spending the past month working on an upcoming documentary for MUTV on the kid from Cape Verde.
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The list will be reduced down to three on Dec 5 with the winner being announced in Zurich on Jan 9.
Player nominees: Eric Abidal (France), Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Karim Benzema (France), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Dani Alves (Brazil), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Muller (Germany), Nani (Portugal), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Gerard Pique (Spain), Wayne Rooney (England), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands), Luis Suarez (Uruguay), David Villa (Spain), Xabi Alonso (Spain), Xavi (Spain).
Forget the politics – it is time for England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to join forces and get behind Team GB’s bid for glory at London 2012
Stuart Pearce – the Englishman appointed manager – is absolutely right when he says Britain’s top young stars will all want to take their shot at Olympic Gold.
The Olympics is a unique platform for the world’s finest under 23 players to shine. Remember it was the stage that launched Lionel Messi on the way to becoming the best player on the planet. And Messi was so determined to take part he was happy for Argentinia to take Barcelona to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the argument over whether or not he could play at the Games.
That’s why the likes of Welshman Gareth Bale are expected to ignore pleas by the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish FAs not to take part for fear of losing their national status with FIFA.
Let’s face it does anyone really believe that England, Scotland, Wakes and Northern Ireland will be forced to compete as Great Britain at the FIFA World Cup.
For former Scotland manager Craig Brown to say players who take part will be “selfish” is just pathetic.
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BLATTER TURNS HUMILIATION INTO TRIUMPH AS FIFA GIVES THE ‘PIRATES’ FROM THE ENGLISH FA ANOTHER GOOD KICKING
Love him or hate him, you have to admire the way Sepp Blatter has expertly navigated the stormy waters of his FIFA re-election like a triumphant admiral who has neatly dodged the pirates trying to sink him.
Equally, credit where credit is due and the ice cool Swiss politican has wasted no time in setting about reforming FIFA. The 75-year-old started his fourth term as President after announcing a raft of measures designed to give the world’s governing body greater transparency and accountability.
A secret ballot saw Blatter re-elected with 186 votes and 17 abstentions as he stood unopposed as the only candidate, following Mohamed Bin Hammam’s withdrawal on Sunday – hours before he was provisionally banned over allegations that he was involved in Qatar paying bribes to secure the 2022 World Cup.
Earlier Blatter announced a new system of choosing World Cup hosts with all 208 Fifa nations voting instead of the 24-man executive committee. He told the Congress: ”I thank you for your trust and confidence from the bottom of my heart and together we will have four more years – provided the Lord gives me the life, the energy and the strength to continue on our path.”
His victory will taste even sweeter because the Football Association’s fruitless attempt to block the vote ended in heavy defeat and vengeful recriminations. It left England looking even more isolated than ever in the corridors of power of world football. FA chairman David Bernstein said his organisation’s move had been worthwhile and insisted they had not suffered for sticking their head above the parapet. But it is hard to agree. Even Wales and Northern Ireland voted against England and the fall-out saw several powerful figures in football line up to attack the FA.
The leaders of associations from Haiti, DR Congo, Benin, Fiji and Cyprus all spoke to criticise the FA’s move, and the most forceful attack came from FIFA’s senior vice-president Julio Grondona of Argentina who branded England a bunch of “pirates” fueled by ” journalism which is more busy lying than telling the truth.”
Meanwhile, centre stage the all-conquering Blatter said he would learn from the ”public anger” and would lead FIFA out of their current predicament: ”We have been hit and I personally have been slapped. We have made mistakes and we will learn from this. I can say to a certain extent that this is a good warning, not just to look into our problems and I am willing to face the public anger in order to serve football.”
While England’s football team can only dream of one day re-living the glories of 1966, off the pitch the English FA are even less effective. Embarrassed with total rejection in the vote to stage the 2018 World Cup, this was another day when our influence on the world game was once again exposed as being as low as it can get.
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FIFA FARCE! IS THIS THE END OF THE ODIOUS SEPP BLATTER WHO MUST DEFEND HIMSELF AGAINST CORRUPTION CHARGES?
BY JOHN GUBBAHow ironic that after years of covering up alleged corruption at FIFA, the dictatorial leader of the governing body of world football is facing the humiliation of having to defend himself against allegations of corruption. The farce engulfing FIFA scaled new heights with the news that president Sepp Blatter will face the body’s ethics committee on Sunday (May 29) to answer charges that he knew about alleged bribes made by other senior figures in the organisation, who were trying to topple him. He will join Mohamed Bin Hammam, his rival in the forthcoming presidential election, and controversial FIFA vice-president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago at the hearing where they will all face claims of corruption and bribery.
Absurdly, it means that the three most powerful men in world football must appear before the ethics committee three days before the organisation must pick one of them as its president.
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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL: WHY BARCA AGAINST MAN UNITED IS DESTINED TO BE ULTIMATE SHOWPIECE FOR BEAUTIFUL GAME
Forget the FIFA World Cup Final. This is the big one. The Champions League Final. The biggest game on the planet bar none. And never has a game been more eagerly anticipated. The 2011 Final at Wembley on Saturday (May 28) could be the ultimate showpiece for The Beautiful Game. It will certainly draw one of the biggest TV audiences of all time – and my prediction is that this time we will be treated to a contest to match the hype and delight the purists.
There is no doubt it is absolutely the dream final. Between the two most exciting teams in world football, whose history and fans demand entertainment as well as glory. Fortune favours the bold and with both sides committed to goals and glamour the recipe for a classic is surely guaranteed.
Two years ago Barca triumphed when Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi scored the goals in a 2-0 win against a Manchester United side weighed down by a shocking contribution by Cristiano Ronaldo – playing his final game in a red shirt before his £80 million move to Real Madrid.
But this time the Catalans know they face a much tougher challenge to their status as the World’s top ranked club. United have got better and better all season making the critics – who keep telling us this is not an outstanding team – look more and more ridiculous.
At times this season United have hit extraordinary heights to match any in the epic 25 year resign of the world’s greatest football manager Sir Alex Ferguson. The twin threat of a Wayne Rooney back to his glorious best and Mexican sensation Javier Hernandez is as good as it gets. Edwin Van Der Sar will be retiring as the world’s best goalkeeper and skipper Nemanja Vidic is an absolute rock alongside the elegance of Rio Ferdinand.
Ryan Giggs has never played better and his reinvention as a central midfield playmaker gives United an extra creative dimension that at times this season has mirrored the famous Barca carousel orchestrated by Andres Iniesta, Xavi and the incomparable Lionel Messi.
As David Beckham said earlier this week: “If anyone can beat Barcelona at their peak Man United can.” With the width offered by any combination of Antonio Valencia, Ji Sung Park, Nani, Patrice Evra and the Da Silva twins this United team has the ammunition to hit Barca where it hurts.
Barca are certainly not underestimating the Red Devils. “This Manchester United team is much more unpredictable without Cristiano Ronaldo,” says wing-back Davi Alves “They have formed a more balanced group and they are stronger than they were two years ago.” Striker David Villa added: “Ronaldo’s departure has liberated them. Many great players come and go and that has allowed them to remain at the top for so long.” Andres Iniesta belives United have “grown as a team”.
And coach Pep Guardiola – who watched in awe as United’s second string completed a staggering 6-1 aggregate win over Schalke in the semi-final – admits: “We have been looking at the 2009 game and they were better than us in the first half.
“The level is equal, they are strong, competitive and they can play with four or five different formations and they stay competitive. They are one of the best teams in the world, and not just this year. We are proud to be playing them.”
As Steve Bruce, a European Cup Winners’ Cup winner with the Red Devils against Barcelona 20 years ago, says, Sir Alex will “want to win the trophy the Manchester United way.” And Bruce predicts the Boss has a master plan that will confirm why he is the greatest: “If anyone can get it right on the night the great man can.”
Whoever lifts the trophy The Beautiful Game will be the winner if both sides come out without inhibition and a determination to show the world just how good they really are.
1999 – THE GREATEST FINISH EVER TO A CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
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Whatever the fall out over the FIFA corruption claims do not be fooled into thinking England has any right to stage the 2018 World Cup – Russia deserved to win the vote and our team got it hopelessly wrong.
For former FA and England 2018 chairman Lord Triesman to allege that four FIFA executive members asked for favours in exchange for World Cup votes – including one who wanted a knighthood – is just sour grapes. Remember we only got two votes anyway.
The real issue is why on earth did FIFA award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar? Now that is a questionable decision on so many levels that really does stink of corruption.
Qatar is a tiny country with no recognisable soccer history. Mega-rich. But ill-equipped to stage a World Cup. It’s one existing international airport will need to triple in size. Nine stadiums need to be built, and the proposed host city of Lusail doesn’t even exist yet.
Then there’s that whole concept of solar-powered, carbon-neutral air-conditioning system for the stadiums to combat the 115-degree heat during a typical Qatari summer afternoon.
Not to mention the fact that visitors carrying an Israeli passport are not currently allowed in Qatar, homosexuality is illegal, single women under the age of 35 are typically required to have a male escort to enter the country and all women are forbidden to wear shorts and skirts.
As one tweeter observed when the controversial decision was made: “If FIFA really wanted to change the world through soccer, they would have awarded Qatar the Women’s World Cup.”
FIFA president Sepp Blatter insists that a first World Cup in the Middle East will continue the organization’s commitment to “open this game to everybody and open it to all cultures.” Yes that is an admirable philosophy.
But it is hardly surprising to learn that Qatar’s controversial success in taking the 2022 World Cup to the desert was propelled by millions of dollars in bribes, according to previously unpublished conversations key figures connected with FIFA held with undercover reporters.
In evidence published on Tuesday under parliamentary privilege by the select committee on football governance, the Sunday Times alleges that Michel Zen-Ruffinen, a former secretary general of FIFA, introduced the reporters to Amadou Diallo, a member of the Confederatio of African Football. Zen-Ruffinen is said to have claimed that Qatar was “using Diallo to arrange financial deals with the African [Fifa executive committee] members in exchange for World Cup votes”.
On Tuesday night the Qatar Football Association issued a statement in which they said they “categorically deny” the allegations. But this is not the last we will hear on this subject.
UPDATE: 27 May 2011 – FIFA has opened ethics proceedings against its president, Sepp Blatter
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BARCELONA totally outclassed Arsenal in both legs of their epic Champions League win. But the contest was effectively decided by a disgraceful red card for Robin Van Persie. It was a shameful, indefensible verdict by Swiss referee Massimo Busacca.
A week ago Manchester United made Premier League champions Chelsea look second rate until referee Martin Atkinson allowed the home side back into the game. The official invited allegations of corruption when he failed to punish John Terry’s blatant handball in the box and then gave a string of dubious decisions in Chelsea’s favour.
Four days later Arsenal were robbed of victory against Sunderland. Seething Arsene Wenger was right to be ‘disgusted’ by the two big decisions that went against Andrey Arshavin. The Russian was denied a clear penalty and a goal wrongly disallowed for offside.
Twenty four hours later Liverpool blitzed United 3-1. But referee Phil Dowd badly let Sir Alex Ferguson’s men down when he failed to send Jamie Carragher off for a shocking foul that put Nani out of the game. Once again it was the pivotal moment in a Big Match.
This is only the tip of iceberg. But it is a worrying trend that is undermining the integrity of the beautiful game. And what makes it worse is the governing bodies’ intolerance with managers who state the obvious.
How dare the FA charge Fergie with improper conduct for stating what every United fan watching the game was thinking when he stated: “It was a major game for both clubs and you want a fair referee. You want a strong referee anyway and we didn’t get that. I don’t know why he’s got the game. I must say that when I saw who was refereeing it, I feared the worst.”
The key fact here is that Atkinson’s incompetence has cost United successive defeats against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Alan Leighton, national secretary of the union representing match officials, demanded an apology from United’s boss for questioning the fairness of United’s defeat by Chelsea. But how about the referees apologising to football fans of all clubs for their incompetence on a regular basis?
Bad refereeing decisions are ruining football, often cost managers their jobs and in the final analysis invariably have a say in who wins trophies and who gets relegated.
It is about time FIFA wake up and introduce the use of technology at our disposal in the 21st century. It is not acceptable in our modern high-tec society that the world watching on television – and the long-suffering fans in the stadium – instantly know when referees have messed up. But nothing can be done to challenge the officials’ decision.
Tennis and cricket have improved the drama and quality of their sports tenfold by adopting technology. Football can do the same.
Admittedly, sometimes there is no way you can challenge a decision as shocking as the one that saw Van Persie red carded tonight for attempting to score a goal when he was marginally offside. But in the vast majority of cases justice can be done.
Tonight justice was done by default because Barcelona were so much more superior than the aggregate 4-3 scoreline suggests. Anything other than a Barca victory against an Arsenal team more shocking than the officials would have been a travesty. But poor refereeing casts a shadow over the Catalans’ passage to the quarter-finals.
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