Archive for the ‘Soccer’ Category

FIFA Woes Continue

Jerome Valcke. Image: en.wikipedia.org

Secretary general of FIFA Jerome Valcke has called the current disarray of his organisation, in the wake of the ethics report into bribery and corruption, “sad.”

“It’s sad for FIFA definitely and it’s sad for our reputation and for the image. It’s sad for commercial partners, it’s sad for all the people who are supporting football.”

The secretary general assured the world that neither of the major sponsors, Sony or Emirate

s airline, were considering withdrawing their support.

“Both Sony and Emirates have nothing to do with the situation we are facing these last day,: said Valcke.

The report into corruption in the bidding process was compiled by prosecutor Michael Garcia. It has found widespread and systemic failures in the football governing body. Despite this governors within FIFA are adamant the report must not be released to the public. The reason for the secrecy was to “mainly to protect 75 persons who have made a deposition and were given confidentiality.” One of whom was Valcke himself.

Investigator and author of the report Michael Garcia has recently objected to the way ethics judge Joachim Eckert has used and interpreted his work. He has appealed to FIFA  (the defendant!) citing “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations” of his work.

Secretary General Valcke could only shake his head and admit it will take years for FIFA to rebuild its reputation. “I know that football is still a very strong product and I am not really concerned with FIFA’s finances for the future … We are doing a great job.”

Qatar stadium. Image: en.wikipedia.org

Qatar stadium. Image: en.wikipedia.org

FIFA Ethics Report Slams Australian 2022 World Cup Bid

In what must surely be one of the worst cases of ‘the pot calling the kettle black’ a FIFA ethics report has attacked Australia for its tactics in attempting to secure the 2022 World Cup. The report specifically pointed to Australian “efforts to conceal certain key relationships in the process.”

It found “potentially problematic facts and circumstances” in the bid. However, the report curiously said these findings didn’t affect the integrity of the vote.

Australia initially attempted to secure the 2018 World Cup; but withdrew to focus its attention on the 2022 Cup.

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Image: en.wikipedia.org

After spending $46 million wooing the FIFA delegates the hosting rights were given to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

The report found a “prima facie case” of two Australian consultants violating bidding and ethics rules. They allege connections existed between a financial syndicate hiding behind the dubious banner of “football development” and the bidding process.

“The Report concludes that the Australia 2022 bid team did undertake specific efforts to gain the support of a particular then FIFA Executive committee member. It suggests that there have been efforts to conceal certain key relationships in this context.

“Certain devices employed by the bid team and its consultants were seemingly aimed at hiding ties with individuals close to the Executive Committee member concerned, while taking advantage of their influence over the member to further the bid strategy.

“According to the Report, there have been communications between one particular consultant of the Australia 2022 bid team that show the relevant consultant executed his strategy of using his purported relationship with high-ranking FIFA officials to create the appearance he was influencing the bidding process.”

The report also found FIFA itself made “certain payments” to the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).These payments were comingled with personal funds of the then CONCACAF President, who was also a FIFA Executive committee member.

But FIFA were more concerned with pointing the finger at the Australian delegation. They cited the report finding: The Australian 2022 bid team had diverted federal government funds set aside for relief in Africa “towards initiative in countries with ties to FIFA executive committee members with the intention to advance its bid to host.”

The report glossed over the suspended OFC representative Reynard Temarii and attempts by Mohamed bin Hammam to fund his legal fees in return for depriving Australia of a vote:

“According to the report, Mr Bin Hammam met with Mr Temarii on November 25, 2010, encouraged Mr. Temarii to appeal the FIFA Ethics Committee’s decision, and offered to arrange for the payment of Mr. Temraii’s legal fees incurred in this respect.

Further, this was an attempt to persuade Mr. Temarii to appeal the Ethics committees’ decision and thus eliminate a vote for Qatar’s competition in the FIFA World cup bidding process.

“Mr Temarii’s conduct and correspondence with Mr. Bin Hammam, shortly after he received the one-year suspension, suggest that Mr. Temarii was aware that his appeal would benefit Qatar’s bid.

“However, there is no direct link between Qatar 2022 and any payments of Mr. Bin Hammam to Mr. Temarii.

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Image: en.wikipedia.org

“Still, it is evident that Mr. Bin Hammam supported Qatar’s bid and that his actions with respect to Mr. Temarii influenced the voting process by eliminating votes for Australia (a direct Qatar 2022 competitior) and England.

“Notwithstanding this, it should be noted that, given the outcome of the December 2, 2010 vote, the difference it would have made if Mr. Temarii would have participated in the vote would not have been significant. Therefore, the occurrences presently relevant did not affect the outcome of the FIFA World Cup 2018/2022 bidding process as a whole.”

Soccer player dies in bizarre post-goal celebration

Backflip image: www.newspunch.org

Backflip image: www.newspunch.org

In a bizarre incident a young footballer has been killed after injuring his spine in a post-goal celebration.

Peter Biaksangzuala, 23 was performing a series of somersaults after kicking home an important equaliser. The local crowd of Khawzawl (a town near to India’s eastern border with Myanmar) went into raptures at the goal.

But Biaksangzuala missed a flip and landed on his head. As he lay on the ground his team mates jumped on top of him.

It soon became apparent the prostrate Biaksangzuala wasn’t moving and something untoward had happened. The players were peeled off him and a stretcher was called.

Biaksangzula was rushed to hospital. Doctors attempted to repair the damage done to his spine. But the young soccer star’s condition deteriorated and he died on Sunday.

While there is a long history of soccer players injuring themselves in post-goal celebrations, this is the first recorded death.

Image: www.smh.com.au

Image: www.smh.com.au

Sierra Leone Football Team Spurned by Fans

The Sierra Leone football team is suffering from the stigma associated with the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in their home country.

In August of this year the team were banned from playing home matches – effectively exiling the team. Since that time the Leone Stars have played all their games in other countries as they battle to qualify for the 2015 African Cup of Nations.

Unfortunately the team have had to put up with “Ebola” being chanted by hostile fans in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. They have also received similar treatment while training in host nations.

The Sierra Leone team were insulted when Seychelles forfeited a match against them. The forfeit came only shorty before the match was due to start and no reason was given.

According to a report in the Times newspaper Sierra Leone players have their temperatures taken each morning and night – Even though none of them have set foot in their own country since July.

Sierra Leone Football team. Image: www.thisissierraleone.com

Sierra Leone Football team. Image: www.thisissierraleone.com

The constant innuendo is taking its toll. Sierra Leone forward Kei Kamara told reporters, ”We’re treated like we’re walking around with the disease.”

Michael Lahoud (Midfielder) admitted lying when asked about where he was from, telling a stranger who asked that he was an American basketball player.

“We felt it was for our protection, Lahoud told reporters.

Defender Abdul Bangura agreed, “they think all of us have Ebola.”

The Ebola virus has swept through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in recent months, killing more than 4000 people. The West African health system has been unable to contain the virulent and deadly disease.

Match-Fixer Lands Five Year Jail Term

With the growing evidence of doping in a variety of sports it is easy to forget about the ever-present threat of match-fixing.

Sanel Kulijic. Photo: www.kleinezeitung.at

Sanel Kulijic. Photo: www.kleinezeitung.at

Recently a court in Austria sentenced international soccer player Sanel Kuljic to five years prison for his part in in manipulating the outcome of 18 domestic league games in Austria’s first and second divisions.

The trial that has sent shock waves through the European sports community. Kuljic was one of eight defendants to be given a prison sentence. Another player, Dominique Taboga, received a 3-year prison sentence for his role. Two other players were lucky to be released because of lack of evidence.

Lawyers alleged the offenses took place between 2004 and October of last year. Players were paid between 7,000 and 25,000 euros ($9,375 and $33,485) per game for their part in orchestrating the desired outcome.

Betting syndicates throughout Austria, Albania, Serbia, and Chechnya turned huge profits betting on the rigged outcomes.

Investigators are pursuing them.

Duped fans and clubs are outraged. Many predict the damage to European soccer will be tarnished for a long time to come.

Qatar World Cup Receives Another Blow

Overnight Qatar World Cup officials received another blow. Theo Zwanziger, a German member of FIFA  the sport’s world governing body, said in an interview with Sport Bild Plus: “I think that at the end of the day the 2022 World Cup will not take place in Qatar.”

Zwanziger’s comments come after medical officials refused to clear the stadium to host fans in the scorching summer heat. Temperatures can reach dangerous 45 degrees centigrade.

“Doctors say,” continued Zwanziger, “and I had insisted on this point in the protocol, that they cannot guarantee that a World Cup can be held in summer in these conditions.”

Should someone die from heat stress it is unclear what FIFA’s legal culpability might be.

Mohamed Bin Hammam. Photo: www.foxsports.com.au

Mohamed Bin Hammam. Photo: www.foxsports.com.au

Qatar officials say they have developed a cooling system able to maintain a temperature of 22 degrees Centigrade.

Even if this is true it does the problem of heat remains a factor for fans once they leave the stadium.

The Qatar bid for the World Cup was dogged by allegations of bribery. The Times newspaper in Great Britain alleged former Qatari football executive Mohamed Bin Hammam paid more than $5.6 million  to further his country’s chances of winning the Cup hosting rights.

Qatar strongly denies this.

Other reports are predicting up to 4,000 migrant workers may possibly die from the heat as they work on the stadium in the years leading up to the 2022.

The most damning indictment came from the top however. With FIFA President Sepp Blatter proclaiming in May of this year that awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a “mistake.”

But Qatari officials are desperate to keep the event.

This will be the first World Cup in any Middle Eastern country. They believe their state-of-the-art cooling system will protect sports fans, and that the event will serve to unite a region torn by politics, war and exploitation.

Soccer Sports Star Facing assault Charges.

US soccer player Hope Solo is arguably one of the greatest goalkeepers in history. She has

Hope Solo. Photo: www.businessinsider.com.au

Hope Solo. Photo: www.businessinsider.com.au

won two Olympic gold medals, played 155 internationals, and boasts the least number of on-field infractions of any top class player.

But the 33 year-old sports phenomenon has recently been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

On September 20 she fell victim to the photo hacking scandal which saw naked pictures of herself splashed up on hosting sites throughout the world.

But this is nothing to the latest furore.

In a time when violence among sportspeople is under the most intense scrutiny Solo has been charged with assaulting two family members.

The Seattle Times recently revealed that, according to police records, Solo was at her sister’s house late in June when an argument erupted between herself and her 17 year-old nephew.

It is alleged the argument escalated to the point where Solo punched him in the face. When Solo’s sister attempted to intervene she also was assaulted.

Todd Maybrown, attorney for Solo, said it was his client who was the victim. Solo is alleging it was she who was assaulted by being hit over the head with a broom during the scuffle.

Solo’s sponsor, Nike, is sticking by the goalkeeping superstar. But the American public is not so trusting.

Domestic assaults from NFL stars Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson have thrust violence from sportsstars into the American public’s consciousness. But now, for many, the shoe is on the other foot with a female athlete accused of the same behaviour.

Will she receive the same treatment?

Maradona Slaps Reporter

Diego Maradona has exploded with rage at being followed by reporters; accusing one of winking at his wife.

Maradona, his wife, Veronica Ojeda and their son Diego Fernando were leaving a theatre in Argentina when Maradona became incensed at being followed by a small group of reporters.

When the family were in the car he yelled, “This!” (indicating the night out), “is a gift for my child. One of the first days I have spent with my son.”

“I have a happy environment,” he continued, “so stop breaking balls, because I am 53 years old and I’m not the ‘’Dieguito’, my name is Diego Armando Maradona!”

What happened next is uncertain.

Maradona heaved his bulk out of the car and charged at one of the newsmen. “What is it fool?” he screamed into the man’s face. “Why mess with my wife if I do not mess with you?”

Diego Maradona & the infamous Hand of God goal. Photo: www.theguardian.com.au

Diego Maradona & the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal. Photo: www.theguardian.com.au

Maradona believed the reporter had winked at his wife. He then slapped the man and left.

During his career Maradona was no stranger to controversy. He was acknowledged to be one of the most histrionic and prolific ‘divers’ in the game; he was scorned as an outright cheat in scoring the winning goal of a World Cup with his hand (a penalty in soccer); and generally recognized among other players as being an insufferable prima donna.

Since leaving the pantomime of world soccer Maradona has had drug related problems, stints in rehabilitation facilities and running battles (quite literally) with journalists around the globe.

World Cupdate: Spain Bows Out In Spectacular Style!

Eduardo Vargas, far right, getting through Spain's Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas .

In a stunning turn of events, Spain (reigning World Champions) has been eliminated from the 2014 World Cup after losing 2-0 to Chile. The topic has been trending online and around the world, with the New York Times also reporting on a strange event that happened in the lead up to the match.

A mob of nearly 100 excited Chilean fans barged a stadium gate a few hours before a match. The unruly gang of die-hard supporters broke fences and crashed the news media center inside the arena (just imagine the scene!). A temporary wall was destroyed and all out chaos broke out inside the Brazilian arena. The police then promptly arrived to lead the excitable fans back outside.

Later, during the game, the vibrations in the air were downright vitriolic. Chilean fans yelled “El-im-in-a-do! El-im-in-a-do!” (eliminated), their red shirts an intimidating ocean swallowing the Spanish team whole. The game was practically a whitewash, with Spain seemingly tired and perhaps in a bad head space. The majority of the crowd in the stadium were boisterous Chilean fans, sure, but the previous 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Netherlands would’ve shattered the confidence of any professional sportspeople under enormous pressure to live up to a previous victory.

The pressure of the game and the massive sensation that is the World Cup can take winners and turn them into losers overnight. Though the team is now legendary, it’s become apparent that Spain’s prize winning crew is maybe a bit too old and soft for the speedy style of football played in Latin America.

In a thick press conference after the disappointing match, star player Casillas said he couldn’t explain to fans exactly what had happened. The obviously wounded icon seemed genuinely bruised, even going so far as to apologize to the team’s fans for letting them down in such a public and inconceivable way.“They should know that we gave all we had,” he said. “This squad didn’t deserve to go out like this.”

All of this puts Australia in good stead to try and finish third in the table, a solid and noble result in what was once considered to be a nightmarish pool. But with Spain practically down and out, they’ve got nothing to lose. The bedraggled team might try a final push for dignity and redemption, a rally that might not work against Australia’s younger and leaner team (sans star striker Cahill). Today, a lot of online chatter has been building around Cahill’s surprise yellow card, an incident that will no doubt have ramifications on the game with Spain.

Whatever the outcome of this year’s World Cup, it’s always amazing to watch the world game played at such an incredible level. Champions can bite the dust and Davids can rise up against genuine Goliaths. This is the appeal and glamour of an event that is drawing in millions of new followers with each progressive tournament. Here’s hoping the rest of the game play is just as exciting and shocking!

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Laser Pen Light Furore as Russians Draw with Algeria

Igor Akinfeev in game against Algeria. Photo: www.theguardian.com

Igor Akinfeev in game against Algeria. Photo: www.theguardian.com

The world has been stunned by the apparent use of a green laser pen apparently being used to distract the Russian Goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev, moments before Algeria scored an equaliser.

In a tense, hard fought competition, Algerian striker Islam Slimani slotted the ball past the goalie with a second-half header. The goal brought Algeria 1 – 1 and allowed the Desert Foxes to progress into the last 16.

The Algerians were behind for most of the match after Alexander Kokorin scored in only the sixth minute. A pinpoint accurate header slammed into the back of the net sending the Russians into raptures. For the rest of the match the Russians peppered the Algerian goal, but to no avail.

Set plays between Kokorin and Aleksandr Samedov looked certain to sizzle by the Algerian keeper. But Rais Mbolhi was everywhere. He single-handedly kept the Algerians in the game with his athleticism, skill and desperation.

Mbolhi’s finest moment came 21 minutes from fulltime when Samedov broke through the defensive line to zero in on the Algerian goal. He looped a beautiful cross to Kerzhokov who swooped in from the right. Kerzhokov’s strike was low and and fast as a bullet. Mbolhi batted it away and secured the ball on the Russian’s second attempt.

Replays of the Algerian equaliser clearly show the light from a laser pen wavering across Akinfeev’s face. Match officials are taking this disruption very seriously. Whatever the outcome, the result will stand.

This means the Desert Foxes now have the opportunity to exact revenge on West Germany and Austria.

In 1982 the Algerians were bundled out of the World Cup when Germany was all but allowed to win 1 – 0. The result benefitted both teams at the expense of Algeria and the treachery has never been forgotten.