Posts Tagged ‘Sports’

Qatar 2022: No longer strictly a footballing issue

FIFA announced in December 2010 that the 2022 World Cup would be hosted by Qatar. With the United States and Australia also prime candidates, it seemed improbable that the Arab state would get the honour. The tournament, which is nine years away, has been shrouded in controversy and sparked numerous debates on their ability to host. Straight away, there were accusations – that probably were not far from the truth – of bribery from the world’s wealthiest nation, Qatar, to footballs governing body, FIFA.

Zinedine Zidane, who has no allegiance to the country of Qatar, was paid $3 million to endorse their bid. FIFA claimed that these endorsements were important “because they helped Qatar establish its legitimacy within FIFA and connections to executive committee members.” Weeks later, Doha native, Mohammad Bin Hammam, received a ban from football – overturned by CAS – for his involvement in a corruption scandal centred on the FIFA presidential elections, 2011. Despite Qatar denying Bin Hammam’s involvement in the World Cup bid, he commented; “I served football that long, more than 42 years; I have seen a very ugly face of the sport, envy, jealousy. I will not talk about the corruption” raising the level of suspicion of bribery.

The country’s bid was centred on air-cooling technology in the stadia, as well as certain ‘fan-zones’ to help combat the desert climate which can reach the heights of 50 degrees in mid-July. However, this issue remains for players and fans travelling across the country. Harold Mayne – Nicholls, author of FIFA’s inspection report, stated; “It was a little bit obvious, it won’t be easy for the players. Now, after almost three years, it is still a subject on the table” Obviously, a health concern, one solution is to move the tournament to winter for the very first time, which disrupts the majority of club fixtures, leading to a season split into two. FIFA will decide what dates the tournament will take place following the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. However, until then, Nepalese slaves will continue to die due to appalling conditions they are forced to work in, constructing the hotels, roads and stadiums in preparation for 2022.

Last month, a report from The Guardian exposed the truth that lay beneath the surface of the world’s wealthiest nation. The investigation revealed that 44 Nepalese workers died between 4 June and 8 August due to exhaustion, heart failure and workplace accidents. Some workers have been refused pay in order to prevent them from leaving the country, while others have their legal I.D cards withheld for the same reasons. Although they are not projects directly related to the world cup, it is related to the construction of Lusail City, a city that will be built from scratch – costing close to $45 billion – and will be the location of the 90,000-seater state of the art stadium that will host the final.

Qatar-World-Cup

It is estimated that nearly a dozen migrant workers will die per week, which will amass to almost 4,000 deaths by the time the World Cup commences. Sepp Blatter, commented, “It is not FIFAs primary responsibility but we cannot turn a blind eye but it is not a direct intervention from FIFA that can change things.” An underwhelming response from the FIFA president. It may not be the primary responsibility, as he puts it, but the truth is that it should be. When human life is at risk, it should be prioritised before any sporting matter.

You do not have to scratch too far beneath the surface to discover the issues of Qatar hosting the World Cup. Populated with little over two million, located on the Northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, it is hardly a footballing hotspot. FIFA has to take responsibility for their wrongdoings. There should have been a re-vote when a winter world cup was being discussed as the original bidding process specified that it is be to be hosted in the Summer. Following that, the investigation into slavery should have been another valid reason for a re-vote as it is no longer strictly a footballing issue but instead, a human rights case that needs to be focused on.

At the time of the announcement, there were many questions raised in relation to the suitability of the World Cup being hosted in Qatar, now almost three years later, little to none of these have been answered. However, one thing is for certain, the onus lies on FIFA.

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The beautiful game no more, as modern football has sold its soul.

25th of May 1967, Jock Stein’s Celtic side just defeated Inter Milan to lift the European Cup for the first time in the clubs history.  An achievement made even more credible by the fact the ‘Lisbon Lions’ starting eleven were all born within 30 miles of the clubs ground.  This is unimaginable in today’s footballing world plagued with corruption and billionaire foreign investors.  Football was never a perfect game but it was beautiful, played and viewed by honest-hardworking people.  This is now lost.

Recently the Premier League sold the live rights to BT and Sky for £3.018 billion for three seasons, a figure which will probably further increase when the contract has expired. The amount of money being invested into the English game is becoming farcical and in truth, is killing off the charm of football.  However, England is far from the only country targeted by billionaires seeking a new club to guide to success – or in so many cases, send them into financial ruins.

Paris Saint Germain (PSG) were bought by a Qatari businessman looking to flounder some money in football – money that he will more than likely never see again – and for what?  PSG are a relatively new club in footballing terms, formed in 1970 but it is only now that Parisian side are making a real name for themselves in global football, despite previously winning multiple titles in France.  The fans seem pleased with the good times, naturally, but it is the other teams in France who are forced to sell their best players –that they produce year-in-year-out that suffer.

Ajax fans protest vs Man City

Rumoured by The Telegraph, PSG are one of the elite clubs backing the proposed Dream Gulf League (DGL), a club competition that is to be held in Qatar and neighbouring countries on a bi-yearly basis.  The competition is backed by the Qatari royal family who aim to set-up the tournament in the summer of 2015.  The DGL is to be ran during the summer in order to prove the doubters wrong – who believe it to be too hot in Qatar to host the 2020 World Cup – by hosting games in air-conditioned stadiums. The tournament is set to rival other competitions such as Uefa competitions and the Club World Cup.  Surely though clubs will not want to partake in a quite meaningless tournament in the Gulf regions over the prestige of winning a European Cup.  Sadly nowadays, most clubs are attracted to where the money appears.  It is rumoured that Sheikhs are prepared to off £175 million to each invitational club, a very appealing proposition once the Financial Fair Play rule comes into effect. Unlikely, but if this were to happen, it would be disastrous for the world game.

Clubs are viewed as pawns by these businesspersons and the fans voices fall on deaf ears.  The investors are the ones with the money, so they are the ones with the power (or so they see it).  In order for football to reclaim some pride, something has to happen

Football player finds grenade on the pitch and comes close to losing his hand.

We’re used to seeing bottles, coins and the occasional pigs head get thrown onto the pitch but in Iran a live grenade was fired from the crowd. The player picks it up, not knowing what it is and well the rest just has to be viewed for yourself. The link to the video is below

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPVLJzeZ9i8&feature=player_embedded

10 Young Players to watch out for at Euro 2012 (Part 2)

Sotiris Ninis

Country: Greece

Club: Parma

Age: 22

Position: Attacking Midfielder/Winger

The pacey Albanian born winger made 7 appearances for Greece in the qualifiers netting a goal in the process. Ninis was linked with moves to big European clubs such as Man United and Lyon earlier in the year, instead he opted to sign for Serie A side Parma back in March. Having twice won ‘Greece Young Player of The Year’ a lot was expected of Sotiris Ninis but so far he hasn’t lived up to the hype at Euro 2012 having only played 53 minutes of the tournament. However Greece have progressed to the quarter-finals so hopefully we will see him perform like the Greek fans know he can.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Country: England

Club: Arsenal

Age: 18

Position: Winger

“The Ox” caught a lot of peoples attention this season for Arsenal and one of them people was Roy Hodgson who gave the teenager his debut in May against Norway. Oxlade-Chamberlain is a powerful and physically strong winger who can easily knock full-backs off the ball, showing traits from his days playing rugby at school level. He started in the game against France but only came on as a late substitute against Sweden so it’s still not certain whether he will start or be sitting on the bench for England’s clash with co-hosts Ukraine today. At only 18 ‘The Ox’ still has to develop and mature as a footballer but the future looks very bright for the young Gunner.

Yann M’Vila

Country: France

Club: Rennes

Age: 21

Position: Defensive Midfielder

M’Vila has been compared to legendary French midfielder’s Patrick Vieira and Claude Makelele. M’Vila was the rock in the Rennes side that finished 6th in Ligue 1 last season.  He has already captained his club Rennes, making him the youngest captain in the clubs history and has now proven to be the heart of the French team. The ball-winning midfielder has incredible vision and is constantly looking to play the ball forward. M’Vila has only played 20 minutes at the Euro’s so far due to an injury he picked up in a friendly against Serbia before the competition began. I wouldn’t expect to see M’Vila playing in Ligue 1 come next season as it looks more and more likely that he could be on his way to the Premiership to join Arsenal.

Mario Balotelli

Country: Italy

Club: Manchester City

Age: 21

Position: Striker

Most people will be familiar with Balotelli at this stage. In just one game he can have moments of madness and/or moments of brilliance. The highly entertaining Italian can be unpredictable both in his play and personality, which makes people think “What’s he going to do next?”. The Palermo native netted 13 goals for City this season as they went on to lift the Premier League for only the third time.  Gifted with pace, technical ability and a powerful shot, Balotelli can be a real handful for defenders. In August 2010 Balotelli earned his first cap for the Azzuri in a friendly match against Ivory Coast. Making him only the third black player to ever play for Italy. Last night he scored his first competitive goal for his country against Ireland, a wonderful bicycle kick inside the area which could quite possibly be goal of the tournament so far.

Holger Badstuber

Country: Germany

Club: Bayern Munich

Age: 23

Position: Defender

The German defence has been rock solid this tournament and one of the main reasons for that is the Badstuber/ Hummels defensive partnership. Badstuber has established himself as a key figure for both country and club. He helped guide Bayern Munich to the Champions League final this season but will be hoping to go one step further with Germany by lifting the European Championship trophy come July. So far he has played every minute for Germany in the Euro’s winning  over 90% of the tackles and headers he has attempted. Former Bayern Munich manager Louis Van Gaal stated that Badstuber is the “best left footed defender in Germany”. If the Germans are to go all the way to win it (which many expect them to) then Holger Badstuber will one of the main reasons for their success.

 

See Part 1 here: https://footballtopic.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/5-young-players-to-watch-out-for-at-euro-2012/

10 Young Players to watch out for at Euro 2012 (Part 1)

Kevin Strootman

Country: Netherlands

Club: PSV

Age: 22

Position: Midfielder

Known for his box-to-box displays and combative nature, PSV’s Kevin Strootman has attracted a lot of interest across Europe including Ac Milan where he is wanted to replace fellow countryman Mark Van Bommel in the defensive midfielder role. He is currently battling with Nigel De Jong for a place in the first team in the Dutch squad. A good tournament for the 22 year old midfielder could see him moving away from the Phillips Stadion this Summer.

Alan Dzagoev

Country: Russia

Club: CSKA Moscow

Age: 21

Position: Attacking Midfielder

The young Russian scored twice in Russia’s opening game against Czech Republic as they went on to win 4-1. He will be a key player for Russia if they are expected to go far. He was influential for CSKA in last seasons Champions League as they made to the round of 16, recording more key passes per game than Cristiano Ronaldo and Cesc Fabregas. With an eye for goal and able to pick out a pass with pinpoint accuracy it is safe to say that Alan Dzagoev will terrorise opposing defenders this Summer.

Robert Lewandowski 

Country: Poland

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Age: 23

Position: Striker

Many people are familiar with the Polish striker now after yet another successful Bundesliga campaign netting 22 goals for the reigning German champions. Poland’s hopes rest on Lewandowski’s shoulders and he did not disappoint as he scored the opening goal of Euro 2012 in their 1-1 draw with Greece. At the age of 23 he has already made 43 appearances for his country, bagging himself 15 goals in the process. Manchester United are apparently very interested in signing the striker and will be keeping a close eye on him at the Euro’s.

Mario Gotze

Country: Germany

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Age: 20

Position: Attacking Midfielder/Winger

Despite being hit with a hip injury Gotze was still a  key player in Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga winning squad this season scoring 6 goals in just 17 games. He will more than likely not start for Germany but could prove to be trouble for fatigued defenders if brought on from the bench, turning them inside out with his blistering pace and creative play. We could well see a future star folding in front of our eyes at Euro 2012 if Mario Gotze gets the game time.

Christian Eriksen

Country: Denmark

Club: Ajax

Age: 20

Position: Midfielder

At only 20 years of age Eriksen has already made 24 appearances for Denmark and featured in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The Dane’s skilful dribbling has helped Ajax lift the Eredivise two seasons in a row (2010-11, 2011-12) and due to his fine form he was awarded ‘Danish footballer of the year’ and ‘Young Player in The Netherlands’ in 2011. Denmark will be relying on Eriksen to try guide them through the “Group of death” and into the quarter finals. If Eriksen lives up to the hype at the Euro’s then he will more than likely be leaving Ajax for bigger and better things.

Liverpool – A club in turmoil?

There is no doubt about it that Liverpool F.C is one of the greatest clubs in Britain, dare I say it, the world. A club decorated with major trophies from FA Cups to First Divisions t0 Champions Leagues. They are known and respected by almost every football fan from around the globe.

Yesterday Kenny Dalglish was sacked as manager of Liverpool. “King” Kenny is regarded as a legend at the club having won multiple trophies as both player and manager in his first stint in charge but failed to live up to his name this time around. The news brought mixed emotions for the Liverpool fans, some said it was the right thing to do, others believed he needed more time. The owners were convinced though, they felt that despite winning the League Cup and guiding them to the FA Cup final were they narrowly lost to Chelsea, that their league performance was simply not good enough. Dalglish was the third manager to lose his job at Anfield in just two years.

This year saw rivals Everton finish above Liverpool for only the fourth time since 1962 despite the Toffees spending far less money. Is this a sign of things to come?

It now seems like a lifetime ago since Liverpool lifted the Champions League in Istanbul. That was just 2005. They also made the final two years later only to be bet by Ac Milan 2-1, but unfortunately for Liverpool it doesn’t look like they’ll replicate that for some time to come.

The club spent over £136 million from Summer 2010 – January 2012. Giving the amount invested into the team they were expected to challenge for the top four in Dalglish’s first full season in charge, they didn’t even finish close.  They came eighth,  a total of 17 points off the top four. The Reds lost as much as they won last season, 14 games. Definitely not acceptable for the money that was invested into the team.

Dalglish’s men had a bit more success in the cup competitions though and came close to doing a cup double. Would that of kept him in the job?

Will the owners be able to continue to pump money into the club without selling? I seriously doubt it. Top goalscorer Luis Suarez is heavily linked with a move to PSG so they could be faced with a real dilemma, keep arguably the best player or try make a healthy profit on the Uruguayan. Charlie Adam and Dirk Kuyt are also rumoured to be leaving Merseyside this Summer.

Will Suarez still be a Red come next season?

Plenty of managers are being linked with the Anfield job as you would imagine. The main names being thrown around are Andre-Villas Boas, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, Frank Rijkaard and former boss Rafa Benitez.

Whoever takes over is going to have his work cut out for him. The fans want European Football again and ultimately, eventually, a Premier League title. Although that would be a long term goal.

Are Liverpool starting to decline and become just a top half side who won’t realistically challenge for a top four spot for some time to come or can they rebuild and break it? With the right man in charge you never know.

 

 

The Ultimate Debate: Pele vs Messi

As you get to a certain level you will always be compared to the best in any sport. In football the greatest of all-time in many people’s eyes is Brazilian legend Pele.  Not much people imagined somebody challenging Pele for the title of ‘greatest of all time’ but then came along Lionel Leo Messi. Are these comparisons premature or justified?

Last night saw Messi score four goals against Espanyol. This brings him to 50 goals in La Liga and 72 in all-competitions this season which is now a new record, having beaten Archie Stark’s 70 goals in one-season for Bethlehem Steel in 1924/25. Nobody can argue that it’s an amazing achievement.

Despite the numerous records he has broken is he on Pele’s level?

Pele claims Messi needs to score 1,000 goals before he can be compared to him. Also making a rather absurd statement  “Now everyone is talking about Messi, he is a star. But for Messi to be the best ever, he must first become better than Neymar.”

Pele claims to have scored 1281 goals but only 760 of these were actually official goals. Messi is now on 276 goals, so it’s achievable considering he is still only 24 years of age.

For some people, Messi has to win a World Cup to prove he is the best of all-time as Pele won three with Brazil. Is this fair though? The current Argentina squad who are ranked 10th in the world aren’t even the best team in South America, never mind the world. Whereas Pele played in arguably the greatest international team of all time. Surrounded by world class players like Garrincha, Gilmar, Carlos Alberto and Jairzinho. Brazil lifted three world cups between 1958 and 1970.

Pele celebrating at the 1970 World Cup.

The only success Messi has on the international stage is a under-20 World Cup back in 2005 and an Olympic gold medal won at the 2008 games in Beijing.

However Messi is playing in arguably the greatest league in the world, the La Liga, as well as the worlds greatest club competition the Champions League. These are two competitions Pele never played in. The Brazilian spent most of his playing days at Santos before a two year stint with star studded New York Cosmos.  This is why some (very few) people doubt Pele’s ability as he never tested himself in Europe.

Another day, another record broken for Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi now has three Ballon d’Or’s to his name and looks likely to add his fourth which will also be another record broken for the Argentinian. He also has won five La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues and two Club World Cup trophies among others with Barcelona. Although this season wasn’t as successful as previous campaigns for Barcelona it is possibly Messi’s greatest individual season so far.

Is Messi the greatest of all-time?

Will he eventually be or is Pele going to remain the best player to ever grace the pitch?