Archive for the ‘Soccer’ Category

Manchester United – The first months with David Moyes.

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The current form of Manchester United Football Club is a worry that runs deep through my veins and carries with it worry, anger and despair. I will admit, over the past few years, United fans have gotten used to a certain level of quality in their football. We expect positive results, and we expect them regularly. Unfortunately, over the span of the current season, Manchester United has failed to achieve the results that the media and its fans expect from them.

There are a few reasons for this. The first one, and probably the most influential, is the retirement of long-term manager Sir Alex Ferguson. His replacement, former Everton manager David Moyes, has failed to live up to his predecessors soaring record. A task that truly is probably quite impossible.

I do feel, however, that we should let Moyes play out his time at United and try to avoid any judgment too soon. In a footballing landscape where managers are fired after mistakenly sitting in the assistant’s chair, the media – and unfortunately some fans – were quick to call for his sacking. The hashtag #SackMoyes was spreading around twitter far too often for my liking. Yes, United are currently in seventh place and have been beaten over more times at home than a domestic violence case, but we have to remember that this is a transitional period for the club. The “Under New Management” sign is up in the window at Old Trafford and the employees are still getting used to the new bosses ways.

People also do forget that Sir Alex had always been supported by the then Chairman, David Gill, whom also called it quits at the end of last season. His replacement, Ed Woodward, has gained a reputation amongst fans for being rather stingy with wallet – at least he seemed that way after the first transfer period that could only be described as abysmal.

United’s performance has not been helped by the grossly inconvenient string of injuries that have crowded the bench.  The already underperforming defense is lacking Evra, Evans, Jones and Ferdinand, though it is expected that they may be fit to return for the crucial clash against Chelsea on the weekend. Star striker and Team Atlas Robin van Persie is out for what seems an indefinite period, helped not by what appears to be the entire midline of the side – Young, Fellaini and Nani – joining him in this state. The return of Wayne Rooney following his short absence will come as a monumental welcome come Sunday.

The side will hopefully pick up some form and challenge for a champions league spot. Fourth place seems to be a reasonable target for now, one that wouldn’t label this first post-Ferguson season as a failure. All we can do now is provide as much support to the team as we can. We can avoid booing our own players as they come off (*ahem* Nani), sell out the stadium as we did before and sing until our hearts give out. Moyes was, of course, hand picked by Sir Alex.

Going to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil

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The absolute frenzy surrounding the 2014 FIFA World Cup is indicative of the monumental popularity surrounding the sport of football and the thrilling competition that is to be expected at this momentous sporting occasion. Millions of people all over the world have attempted to buy tickets to become part of the action of the FIFA World Cup on June 12-July 13 2014 and immerse themselves in the unparalleled atmosphere of this quadrennial event.

The combination of this rare and exhilarating sporting event along with an exotic and popular travel destination will easily make Brazil one of the most travelled to hotspots in 2014. Although it is an expensive endeavour, making the trip to this truly priceless event will instil in you incredible memories that will stay with you for a lifetime. However, understanding the ticketing system and the best ways to travel to Brazil during he FIFA World Cup can be incredibly confusing and difficult to navigate. Here are a few tips to make planning your trip to the FIFA World Cup much easier.

Ticketing

889,305 tickets were sold during the first phase of ticket allocation, the random draw. 71.5% of these were sold to Brazilian residents. Australia came in as the country with the fifth highest number of tickets drawn, a total of 15,401. During the second window of ticket sales, which was based on a first-come, first-served basis, nearly 230,000 tickets were sold within a mere seven hours.


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Now, after the final draw has been released, the second phase of ticket allocation for the 64 matches begun on December 8. This window will last until 12.00 (CET) on 30 January 2014. even though nearly 1.2 tickets were requested within 24 hours of the ticket sales opening everyone who applies for tickets within that timeframe, regardless of the date, has equal chance. On top of this, special tickets for people from participating member association (PMA) have also gone on sail. FIFA has reserved 16% of the tickets for each match for fans from both teams. This means that if a country you are either a resident of or national to is playing in the competition, you will have increased chances of acquiring tickets to their game.

Visit www.FIFA.com/tickets to learn more or apply for tickets now.

Travel and Accommodation

There are 12 cities and stadiums at which the FIFA World Cup will be held. Take a look at the World Cup prices and matches to check who is playing where, when and how much tickets are. The key to having an enjoyable time in Brazil over the FIFA World Cup is to conduct plenty of research and plan as far in advance as you can. If you have secured yourself tickets, you should already have organised travel and accommodation, as they are only going to become more scarce and expensive as it gets closer to the event. Similarly, if you are waiting to hear if you have acquired tickets in this second phase, you should pre-organise all your flights and accommodation plans to be able to book them the second you find out about the tickets.

FIFA world cup2Alternatively, you could always simply take a gamble and book a trip to Brazil in June/July next year regardless. You’d want to pray the ticket allocators go in your favour. Or else just simply soak up the intoxicating atmosphere of the biggest sporting event in the world by being in the country at the time and watch the games in what I’m sure would be some the most electrifying pubs on the globe.

You want to be particularly careful when booking anything or giving any credit card details to guarantee it is a safe and legitimate company. Tickets for the games are only sold through FIFA so don’t be tricked by the bargain ticket prices you may see elsewhere. Similarly, there is much concern that profiteering amongst hoteliers and airlines will be rife during this period. You need to be wary of overpricing, and the Brazilian Government is doing its best to increase the number of flights running to reduce costs and avoid hyper-inflation. Also keep in mind that the prices will experience an enormous hike during the second fortnight of competition – so if you’re on a budget or want to secure yourself a seat to cheer on your home country, the first two weeks would be a much safer and more worthwhile option.

Other Travel Tips

When it comes to travelling overseas, one of the best ways to make the trip more enjoyable and keep costs down is to ensure you acquire an international sim card. Rather than spending hundreds or even thousands on calling home with global roaming or not being able to call local numbers, travelling overseas with an international roaming SIM will make life a helluva lot easier. Rather than having to compete with billions of other people for one of the few spots at in internet cafe or sharing wifi with every single other person in Brazil, a United Global Sim will make communicating during the world cup infinitely easier. It is also a fantastic option if you are planning to make a more worthwhile trip out of the FIFA World Cup and visit other exotic locations in South America while over there.

Also ensure you acquire your Brazilian visa well in advance, as Australians are required to get a visa for the country prior to entering Brazil. However, the Brazilian Government has put in place special visa arrangements for Australians who hold tickets to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, check out the Embassy of Brazil’s website for more details.

In terms of health and safety, the Australian Government recommends exercising extreme caution when entering the country of Brazil on account of the high levels of serious and violent crime present in the country. It is also recommended that you get vaccines for Yellow Fever before travelling – check with your doctor for what other vaccinations you may require. It is also essential that y

ou get travel insurance for your trip to Brazil and it is highly recommended that you register your travel and contact details to the Australian Government prior to departure.

The simple fact of the matter is that although tickets may not be guaranteed and there are a huge amount of costs and planning involved in making the trip to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the experience would be a once in a lifetime sporting experience that would provide unparalleled excitement, competitive fervour and sporting spirit. 

 

The Evolution of Gaming – Insurance

And here it is, the next step in personal insurance.

The world of sport has moved online and the stars here attract as much attention as the stars on the telly every weekend. And now, it seems, they’re beginning to be treated with as much attention.

But first some background:

In ancient Phoenicia traders would approach lenders to insure against the piracy or loss of their trading ships. In the London coffee houses merchants would trade insurance bonds with one another on the safe delivery and good quality of their stock. By the 1940’s personal insurance was providing premiums against damage to homes and loss of property. This was quickly followed by a slew of insurance products covering debilitating events most likely to befall an individual. By the 1980’s one could insure cars, boats, even pets. In the 1990’s rock star David Lee Roth stunned the world by taking out paternity insurance (wouldn’t you like to read the indemnity clauses on that one!). But now the market has taken another step.

HIF were approached earlier this year about insuring an online game character. Don’t scoff, it’s big business. Many players spend years building up their characters and sell them (for real money) to other players not willing to put in the work. It’s not yet an industry. But there is a cashed-up elite who want the kudos of an impressive game character without putting in the time themselves.

The problem for the people who create these characters is that their avatars are exposed to pretty much the same risks we all are. They can get injured, punished or die just as we can. They can make bad decisions or just have bad luck.

Plus there are events to which characters are exposed that we are not. Imagine a cataclysmic outage wiping all character records from the game database (solar flares known as a Carrington Event,may achieve this); or hackers scrambling the server network: All very unlikely, yes, but still possible.

And for these few (I hesitate to call them professional) dedicated gamers this could entail the waste of years of hard work.

I know about this because the person to approach HIF is a friend. He didn’t tell me about the negotiations, or their result. But there is an ever growing concern and demand to insure against these precious online avatars.

Bresciano faces 4 Month Ban

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Socceroos veteran midfielder Marco Bresciano is facing a torrid few months after being faced with a four month ban by FIFA due to an illegal transfer to his current club Al Gharafa in Qatar. The transfer, which occurred last August from Al Nasr in the United Arab Emirates, was declared by the governing body that it had broken certain crucial laws, however it has yet to publically announce the reasons for the ruling or when the suspension would start to be enforced.

The suspension may prove critical for the midfielder as it may infringe on World Cup preparations, or even the tournament itself. Bresciano, who has been a star member of the Socceroos for a number of years now, would prove to be a monumental loss for the side. Already coming of a few destructive results against France and Brazil, the last thing that’s needed is further disruption in the side.

When addressing the situation in a post match interview after last night’s friendly match against Costa Rica, Bresciano was notably distressed by the situation. “I’m not going to lie” he said, “It’s been on my mind”. The stress, however, didn’t seem to transfer on to the pitch, with the midfielder putting in a solid display showing his usual level of creativity in the middle of the park.

New manager, Ange Postecoglou, said it was far too early to be considering the World Cup implications of the ban. “We are kind of crossing bridges that haven’t been built yet” he said, “Let’s just make sure we know what all the information is”.

 The ban, along with a 1.9 Million dollar fine, will be finalized in the upcoming weeks. Whether Bresciano will choose to appeal the ban is still in doubt. Though an appeal may in fact further jeopardize his chances of a world cup berth due to delays in legal proceedings.

Gallas set to sign for Glory

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The A-League is set to welcome another big name into it’s ranks with French star defender William Gallas due to be Perth Glory’s latest marquee signing. Confirmation that the former Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur man will be joining the Western Australian side is imminent, according to the French media.

Gallas was close to coming to Australia earlier in the year when Melbourne Victory was close to confirming his signature, though decided on signing the Chilean Pablo Contreras instead. It appears, however, that the Glory deal is all but confirmed with the current free agent expected to arrive in Perth after the round five trip to Wellington.

Gallas has said to be enticed by the Australian football sphere by what he sees as a new footballing frontier. Taking note of recent overseas successes in Emile Heskey, Shinji Ono and Alessandro Del Piero, the A-League shouldn’t be surprised that it has gained a following around the world. Though it did go through a few years of trouble where crowds were low and football wasn’t at it’s highest quality, the introduction of new players, teams (notably the Western Sydney Wanderers) and now free-to-air televising has increased popularity and put the league on the national scale.

Gallas looks to add Perth Glory to his list of already high profile teams. After Joining Chelsea from Olympique Marseille in 2001, he was sent to the Emirates in a deal which saw Ashley Cole move the other way. He then moved to direct rivals Tottenham Hotspurs, with whom he played until he was released earlier this year.

Gallas will be looking to help Perth Glory lift itself from a disappointing first couple of games, having taking only one point from their visit to the Newcastle Jets. They are due to face Melbourne Heart in their first home game this Sunday.

Postecoglou set to become new Socceroos Head Coach.

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Ange Postecoglou looks set to be named as the new coach for the Socceroos following the sacking of Holger Osieck. The German was sacked after a disastrous few games against Brazil and France where the Australians conceded 6 goals in each game. Melbourne Victory released a statement that confirmed Postecoglou’s release, opening up his path to take the position.

A number of big names were thrown up into the mix for the job – Tony Popovic and Graham Arnold were also contenders. Even ex Socceroos boss Guus Hiddink was a possibility, though an Australian that would be in it for the long haul was preferred.

Melbourne Victory, however, are not very pleased by the way in which the FFA poached their star manager. Though they have stated that they are very pleased for Postecoglou, they are not so happy with the process in undertaken by the governing body.

“We are disappointed with the process undertaken by the FFA, given the outcomes we tried to secure could never have been achieved within the timeframes offered, which ultimately forced us to accelerate our decision not to stand in Ange’s way” said Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro.

It has been understood that there has been rigorous negotiations between the FFA and the Melbourne A-League side, resulting in a compensation deal.

Victory will announce who will replace Postecoglou in the coming days, though current assistant coach Kevin Muscat is considered the early favorite to land the job.

Postecoglou is now free to start formulating his squad and backroom staff ahead of the World Cup in Brazil next year, followed by the Asian Cup in January 2015, which of course will be held in Australia for the first time. His first game in charge is expected to be a friendly against Costa Rica at Allianz Stadium next month.

English Premier League – Game Week 8 Roundup

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This week in the Premier league provided us with an exciting amount of goalmouth action. With four teams scoring four goals against their opposition, it was a week in which the keepers were kept very busy.

The week kicked off with all the big teams in play. Chelsea were at home to Cardiff City and Arsenal at home to Norwich. Both sides put away clinical performances and notched up 4-1 victories over their lower level opposition.

Jack Wilshere’s opener in the 18th minute will go down as one of the best team goals the premier league has seen. With some very easy on the eye passing between Carzola, Wilshere and a brilliant improvised flick from Giroud, the England international put away past John Ruddy.

Liverpool were held at Newcastle in a 2-2 draw, with Daniel Sturridge saving the Reds in the 72nd minute.

Swansea also put away a 4-0 victory over struggling Sunderland. The welsh side put away three goals in seven minutes, throwing the northern side further down in the depths of table.

Manchester United faced high flying Southampton at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. The Red Devils continued their disappointing start with 1-1 draw. Robin van Persie scoring the opener in the first half, which was cancelled out in the dying minutes of the match by an Adam Lallana scramble goal.

Other notable results included Manchester City’s victory away at West Ham by 3 goals to 1. Tottenham put away Aston Villa in a routine 2-0 victory and Fulham  thrashed Crystal Palace by 4 goals to 1.

Game Week 8 results.

Newcastle 2-2 Liverpool

Stoke City 0-0 West Bromwich Albion

Manchester United 1-1 Southampton

Everton 2-1 Hull City

Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff City

Arsenal 4-1 Norwich City

West Ham United 1-3 Manchester City

Swansea City 4-0 Sunderland

Aston Villa 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Crystal Palace 1-4 Fulham

Brazil 6-0 Socceroos

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The Australian Socceroos have gone down in a colossal fashion against next year’s world cup hosts Brazil, conceding six goals to nothing. Playing in what was supposed to be glamour friendly in preparation for next year’s tournament, the five time world cup winning nation exposed some gaping holes in the Socceroos defence, which they exploited to full effect.

Brazil netted three times in each half as the Australian side rarely tested their defence. The 46th ranked side showed their weakness in front of a relatively small crowd in Brasilia.

Jo scored twice with Ramires, Alexandre Pato, Luis Gustavo and Neymar – who was highly influential throughout the game – cleaning up the rest.

While the Socceroos may argue that they were without star men Tim Cahill and Luke Wilshire, that should be no excuse for the performance.

Nine months out from the World cup finals, the game was a wake up call for the Australians, forcing them to realise that the talent on the world scale is at a far higher level than that they faced during qualification.

“It’s tough. But it’s a good wake up call for us. Silly mistakes on our behalf cost us crucial goals” said Marco Bresciano. “It’s a tough game that we have to learn from. Inaccuracy in passing, dribbling when you’re not supposed to.”

The game has also questioned the position of coach Holger Osieck, who has fallen under scrutiny in ability to lift the time in this time of need.

Long time fans of the Socceroos will be excited to hear that there is a chance that former manager, Guus Huddink, may be set for a return after quitting his job at Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala. Whilst there is no proof that the FFA has made any direct contact with the Dutchman, his manager, Cees van Nieuwenhuizen, has provided an opening.

“If somebody from the FFA gives me a call I am sure Guus will seriously look at what they have to say” he said.

Australia next faces France in Paris on October 12.

Cahill out of Socceroos clash with Brazil

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With the Socceroos lining up to play a dream friendly against Brazil this weekend, they will miss the presence of star man Tim Cahill, who is out with an ankle injury.

Cahill was injured whilst playing for his club, the New York Red Bulls, in their 2-1 victory over DC United in the MLS. The injury occurred in the first ten minutes of the match, though he battled on in true spirit to score the decisive goal in the 38th minute.

“When I knocked the ball (in the box), I planted my foot, (Jakovic) got my left ankle and I rolled it, and that was it,” Cahill was quoted after the match (on soccerbyives.net). “I was struggling from then on. It happens, but you get on with it”

The Socceroos coach Olger Osieck will see Cahill’s absence from the squad as a heavy blow in his plans to plot an upset against the future World Cup hosts. It is expected that qualifying hero Josh Kennedy will be the likely replacement to spearhead the Australian attack, with long serving Archie Thompson also in the mix.

Cahill’s absence also opens up the chance for some younger players getting some game time, with Central Coast Mariners Striker Mitchell Duke hoping to prove his worth.

Duke, who admits he probably won’t be playing ninety minutes, sees the opportunity just to be in the stadium for the match an incredible experience.

“The Players, like Neymar and all of that – you watch on TV in awe of their ability” he said. “”It’s going to be absolutely unreal, even just being on the sidelines to watch the game. I’ll soak up the experience anyway. If I get an opportunity to play, it’ll just be icing on the cake”

Australia will play Brazil at 5.15am AEST on Sunday, the 8th of September in Brasilia.

Transfer deadline day Round up

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This year’s transfer period was the busiest Premier League teams have had in a number of years. A record £630 million pounds was spent, which is a massive £130 million more than the previous record.

Deadline day saw some big names change shirts, the pick of which was Arsenal’s signing of star playmaker Mesut Ozil.

After a fortnight of pressure on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to produce results, the legendary manager pulled off the buy of the season in a last minute grab for £42.4 million. This was a record transfer fee for the north London club, their previous record being a lowly £15 million for Andrey Arshavin in 2009.

Manchester United made a successful move for Marouane Fellaini in the dying hours, allowing the Belgian to rejoin his former manager, David Moyes, in the famous red shirt. Though, it has to be said that United had an abysmal transfer window, failing to sign Ander Herrera, Sami Khedira, Daniele de Rossi or Leighton Baines. Even a last minute grab for Real Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao on a season long loan fell through due to paperwork not being sent on time.

Tottenham Hotspurs spent the most over the whole period buying seven new players for a total of £105 million, though they were able to cash in on Gareth Bale, who moved to Real Madrid for a world record fee of £85.3 million.

Deadline Day signings

Mesut Ozil – Real Madrid to Arsenal – £42.4m

Libor Kozak – Lazio to Aston Villa – £7m

Peter Odemwingie – West Brom to Cardiff City – £2.25m

Barry Bannan – Aston Villa to Crystal Palace – undisclosed

James McCarthy – Wigan to Everton – £13m

Gareth Barry – Manchester City to Everton – Loan

Romelu Lukaku  – Chelsea to Everton – Loan

Mamadoe Sakho – Sporting Lisbon to Liverpool – £16m

Tiago Ilori – PSG to Liverpool – £7m

Victor Moses – Chelsea to Liverpool  – Loan

Marouane Fellaini – Everton to Manchester United – £27.5m

Andrea Dossena – Napoli to Sunderland – Undisclosed

Alvaro Vasquez – Getafe to Swansea – Loan

Stephane Sessegnon – Sunderland to West Brom – £5m

Victor Anichebe – Everton to West Brom – £6m.