Posts Tagged ‘World Cup’

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.

Advertisements

Animated version of one of the greatest goals of all time.

Maradona’s goal vs England at the ’86 World Cup truly is one of the all time great goals and what makes it even better is the commentary from Victor Hugo Morales.

Profile of the week: Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini (born 26 June 1968, Milan) was an Italian footballer who spent his entire career playing for Ac Milan. Many people acknowledge him as one of the greatest defenders ever. Despite being naturally right footed, Maldini played in the left back or central defender position for a majority of his career. He played at an elite level his entire career spanning over two and a half decades.

16-year-old Paolo Maldini making his debut for Ac Milan

At the age of 16 Maldini made his professional debut against Udinese in the 1984/85 season, making him the youngest ever player to play for Ac Milan in the Serie A. It would be his first and final appearance of that campaign. However the following season he started eleven times for the Rossoneri. The following season marked Paolo Maldini’s first Serie A trophy. This would be his first of seven. He also played a vital part in the Milan side who went the entire season unbeaten. Due to his fine form Maldini played all four games at Euro ’88 for Italy, eventually being knocked out by Soviet Union in the semi-finals. On the 24th of May 1989 Maldini would lift his first European Cup after Ac Milan bet Steaua Bucarest 4-0 . They went on to win it the following season too. Many feel that Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan were one of the greatest teams in history as no team has won the European Cup back-to-back since. The 1990 World Cup then came around, Italy were hosts and felt they could go on to lift the trophy for the fourth time in the country’s history. However this was not the case as Italy once again fell short, being beaten by Argentina in the semi’s on penalties.

Following the disappointment of Italia ’90, Maldini was lifting silverware with Ac Milan almost every season. Winning the Scudetto three times in a row (91/92, 92/93 & 93/94). During this period Milan went on to win their fifth and Maldini’s third Champions League against are Barcelona side which were considered heavy favourites. The Rossoneri went on to win 4-0. Paolo Maldini was made captain of the Italian national team for the 1994 World Cup in America. This tournament proved to be more heartbreaking than the previous World Cup. Italy made it all the way to the final against Brazil to be once again denied on penalties. Maldini was named in the team of the tournament, 32 years after his father, Cesare Maldini, received the same honour. In the same year, he also became the first defender to ever receive the World Player of the Year award.

Maldini won two more Serie A titles before the end of the ’90s (95/96, 98/99) but continued to return from major tournaments with Italy trophyless, following disappointing team performances at Euro ’96 and the World Cup in 1998. In 2000 Maldini was denied another international trophy as Italy were beaten in extra-time by a David Trezeguet golden goal in the final of the Euro’s. This would be the last time Maldini would play in an international final.

After being knocked out of the World Cup in 2002, Paolo Maldini decided it was the right time to retire from international football. Although he retired trophyless, he retired  as Italy’s most capped player of all time, making 126 appearances for the Azzurri. He also captained his country a record 74 times throughout his international career.

Remarkably, 2003 became the one and only time Maldini won the Coppa Italia beating Roma 6-3 on aggregate. Just three days before the Coppa Italia final second leg, Ac Milan beat another Italian rival, Juventus. However this was in the Champions League final, which they won on penalties in Old Trafford, Manchester. This was the fourth time Maldini has won the competition.

Paolo Maldini lifts the Champions League for the fifth time in his career.

 

The 2003/04 season saw Carlo Ancelotti’s – a former team-mate of Maldini’s – Milan side win the Scudetto for the first time in five seasons.  That season, Paolo Maldini was named the Serie A defender of the year for the first time at the age of 36. Ac Milan once again reached the Champions League final in 2005 against Liverpool. Maldini opened the scoring himself after just 51 seconds but he was again denied by an unlikely comeback as Liverpool went on to win the final on penalties following a 3-3 draw. However in 2007 he would get his revenge as Milan beat Liverpool 2-1 in the final to give Maldini his fifth and final European Cup.

On the 17th of May 2009 Maldini played his 900th official match for Ac Milan against Udinese. The following week saw Maldini play in front of San Siro crowd for the final time in a match which Milan lost 3-2 to Roma. Maldini’s send off was marred by a banner displayed by a small section of Milan fans which read “Thank you, skipper. On the pitch you were an infinite champion, but you failed to show respect towards those who made you rich”. His last appearance in a Milan jersey came on the 31st of May, a game they won 2-0 against Fiorentina. The win meant Milan qualified automatically for next season’s Champions League, although Maldini would be absent.

The famous number 3 jersey which Paolo Maldini wore throughout his Milan career has been retired but it may be restored if either one of his children, Christian or Daniel  play for the Milan senior squad in the future.

Michael Owen Digs a Hole

Michael Owen took to Twitter this morning to rubbish reports that he has dived in the past to win a penalty.

Owen said he was “let down” by the British media and even went as far as saying that headlines like ‘Owen: I dived to win a penalty’ were a disgrace. Which would be true if it weren’t for the fact that the night before Owen did admit to simulating a fall after minimum contact that led to a penalty, which would fit, in most peoples definition, of diving or at the very least conning the ref.

“I’ve earned penalties in 2 World Cups both against Argentina where I was touched yet could have stayed up if I had tried” Owen tweeted last night. So according to Owen he could have stayed on his feet but didn’t, yet he is still struggling to understand why most people see this as diving/simulating.

When you think of divers within the game Michael Owen’s name rarely comes to the forefront of many peoples mind. Most think of Luis Suarez, Ashley Young or Sergio Busquets, but his comments may have changed that fact. He also needs to realise that after admitting he could have stayed on his feet on occasions that most football fans will see him going down as trying to convince the ref to award a penalty, when he should be more focused on trying to stay up and score a goal.

Michael Owen’s defence to going down when touched is something pulled by many forwards, that he simply wanted to aid the ref, but Michael needs to understand that that is not his job and by doing so a referee has every right to wave an appeal away as diving is something that officials are desperate to stamp out of the game.

20121011-102903.jpg

Time is golden

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has asked for an alternative to penalties, so is it time to bring back the golden goal rule?

The golden goal rule: Following a draw, two fifteen-minute halves of extra-time are played. If any team scores a goal during extra time, that team becomes the winner and the game ends at once. The winning goal is known as the “golden goal.” If there are no goals after both periods of extra time, penalties decide the game.

Golden goal was introduced in 1993 by Fifa but was not made compulsory, individual competitions could choose whether to stick with traditional extra time (15 minutes a half) or golden goal. The first major international tournament the rule was introduced for was Euro ’96 in England, hoping to promote more attacking play. However it didn’t exactly promote attacking play at all, with teams more concerned about conceding than trying to get the match winning goal. Oliver Bierhoff did in fact score a golden goal in the final to win Germany the Euro’s though.

Probably the most famous golden goal was scored at Euro 2000 when French striker David Trezeguet sealed the winner with a stunning strike.

Many will also remember the Italians crashing out of the World Cup 2002 to a South Korea golden goal that shocked the world.

Golden goal didn’t really last too long though, officially being removed in 2004 despite giving us some great moments over the years along with some very dull moments.

As a football fan I do believe that reintroducing golden goal would add more excitement and suspense to extra-time, knowing that one mistake or one kick of the ball could win or lose the game for either side. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve watched two teams knock the ball about during extra-time, both looking pretty content to bring it to penalties. Golden goal, I believe, would somewhat do-away with the defensive mentality adopted during extra-time.

David Trezeguet famously scores a golden goal to win Euro 2000 for France.

Task Force Football 2014 was set up to come up with an alternative to penalty shoot-outs even though I don’t think penalties are the main problem, extra-time is. It looks likely that golden goal could be that alternative but what will make it different than before? How can they guarantee that teams will not adopt a defensive mentality once again? We’ll have to wait to see what they come up with, if they do come with an alternative at all.

Do you think they should reintroduce golden goal or should everything remain as it is?

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?