Raising the stakes

With all the talk surrounding the 2022 World Cup concerning the timing of the finals, the head of the Premier League has raised the stakes by suggesting that rather than changing the date of the finals, FIFA should remove them from Qatar altogether.

It’s the latest provocation in the escalating conflict between the leading European leagues and football’s governing body.

At the heart of the dispute is the belated realisation that Qatar in the summer time is not really the best place to stage a major sporting event. While the English FA would be amenable to the World Cup moving to winter, the Premier League thinks otherwise.

“At the end of the day, FIFA made a decision which is for none of us to comment on,” Richard Scudamore said at the launch of the new season. “They decided the World Cup will be in the summer in Qatar.

“Our view is; if that is deemed not possible by FIFA, they need to move the location. We can’t just, on a whim, decide to move to the winter.

“It’s extremely difficult, nigh-on impossible in our view.”

The knock-on effects for the Premier League would be huge Scudamore said there had to be talks with all interested parties if FIFA were serious about re-scheduling the World Cup.

“Where they award the World Cup to is a FIFA executive committee decision and not our business,” he added. “But the international football calendar has to be consulted, FIFA can’t just decide.

“There’s a whole series of complications and consultation has to be separate with leagues on a global basis, to make sure it works for everyone before a decision is made.”

It’s difficult to ascertain whether this issue is a point of principle for the Premier League or merely a bargaining chip designed to strengthen their hand in the eternal club vs country debate. One suspects that were FIFA to throw the Premier League clubs a few quid for their troubles, they’d soon fall into line.

Political football

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) on Thursday urged FIFA to expel Israel from the international federation, claiming it had refused to allow several Arab youth teams into the Palestinian territories.

“We ask (FIFA) for a red card, because the yellow card has been raised now for a long time,” PFA chief Jibril al-Rujub told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

“We are clinging to the red card to take away the Israeli occupation’s legitimacy and we will not accept any compromise,” Rujub said.

Rujub said Israel had denied representatives of the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF), which includes 12 Arab national football associations, permits to enter the occupied Palestinian territories to play in the WAFF Under-17′s Championship, that was due to begin Thursday.

Three managers of the Jordanian football union, two UAE representatives and 13 managers and players from Iraq were refused entry, he said.

Rujub told AFP that WAFF was contacting FIFA and the European football federation UEFA, to which Israel also belongs, to “put pressure on Israel to issue the necessary permits” for the tournament to go ahead.

Israel was due to supply permits for all the teams by August 10.

Work in progress

Brazil’s players must keep playing regularly at club level, regardless of the standard, and put their country ahead of financial concerns if they want to retain their places in the team for the World Cup, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said.

Scolari issued the warning as the team re-assembled for the first time since their Confederations Cup triumph in June, telling the players that they should think long and hard about the decisions they make over the next 12 months.

“A player who wants to play for Brazil has to think about the national team and not just think about the monetary side,” Scolari said.

“The spirit we showed at the Confederations Cup was absolutely spectacular. But now it’s over and we’re on a new path. The athletes have to remember that a lot can happen – players not getting regular games, transfers, players dropping out of favour at their clubs.

“The players know that nobody has made sure of their place. We played well [at the Confederations Cup], but they have to play at their clubs so they can be picked.

“Some players have credit in the bank, but credit can dry up and that is how it has to be,” he added.

Scolari said he was especially concerned about the situation of goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who has not secured a move away from QPR, who were relegated from the Premier League last season.

“I’m worried and he knows that,” said Scolari. “If possible, he needs to try and play, it doesn’t matter if it’s in the second division, third division or 10th division.

“I want to be able to see how they are playing and if they are in the right state.”

The 33-year-old keeper appeared to take Scolari at his word, admitting he might have to play in the second tier Championship to preserve his World Cup hopes.

“There are two weeks left before the window closes and nothing is certain yet,” he told ESPN Brazil. “I am talking with some clubs but unfortunately we are not able to reach a common denominator.

“But I will decide my future and if I have to stay at QPR to play in the Championship, it won’t be a problem.”

Metalist appeal

UEFA’s worst nightmare moved a step closer when Metalist Kharkiv appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over their ban from European competition.

CAS announced Metalist had made “an urgent request for provisional measures…to obtain the temporary stay of the UEFA decision excluding the Ukrainian club from UEFAcompetitions…and its reinstatement in such competitions.”

Metalist, who were due to face Schalke in the two-legged Champions League play-off round later this month, were expelled by UEFA on Wednesday over a domestic match-fixing case dating back to 2008.

Greek side PAOK Salonika, the team Metalist eliminated in the third qualifying round, have replaced them as Schalke’s opponents.

CAS said it would ask UEFA and PAOK for written observations and would give more information on Friday evening.

Turkish side Fenerbahce, banned from European competition for two years over domestic match-fixing in 2011, have already been reinstated by CAS pending an appeal.

They play Arsenal in the two-legged playoff round with a final decision by CAS expected by August 28.

Goal of the day

Two similar goals share the Goal of the Day award, with Spain’s Alvaro Negredo and Nigeria’s Uche Nwafor both improvising impressively.

Negredo finished off a sweeping attacking move for Spain against Ecuador with a cleverly disguised flick.

For Nigeria, it was Uche Nwafor  who wrongfooted the South African goalkeeper with his back to goal.

Own goal of the day

Dani Alves is renowned more for his attacking prowess than for his defensive stability. This misdirected header against Switzerland perhaps explains why.

Miss of the day

One to forget for Czech Republic’s Petr Jiracek in their encounter with Hungary. With the an open goal gaping Jiracek somehow contrived to miss the target from just a couple of yards out.

Quote of the day

“I think it’s the hardest start for 20 years that Manchester United have had. I hope it’s not because Manchester United won the league quite comfortably last year that the fixtures have been made much more difficult. I find it hard to believe that’s the way the balls came out of the bag, that’s for sure.”

Sir Alex Ferguson may have retired as Manchester United manager but his legacy appears to be safe for the time being. His successor, at Old Trafford, David Moyes, complains about perceived injustices before the season has even started.

Riddle wrapped within an enigma…

UK wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill once described Russia as a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

Heaven knows what he’d make of Luis Suarez and in particular the transfer saga that has dominated much of the sports press over the course of the summer. The Uruguayan, who has spent much of the summer trying to engineer a move away from Anfield, appeared to have settled his differences with Liverpool on Wednesday, and was reported to be happy to stay.

Newspaper El Observador claimed Suarez told its reporter in Japan, where Uruguay were playing a friendly, “For now, because of all the affections of the people, I will be staying” and might look to sign a new contract.

Later in the day however, after scoring a goal in Uruguay’s 4-2 win over Japan, Suarez apparently backtracked, claiming they were not his words.

“I didn’t say that,” he is quoted as saying. “Maybe someone else did. The main thing is I’m here now with the national team.”

Back in England, Liverpool owner John Henry has dismissed all talk of Suarez leaving, while manager Brendan Rodgers, who has forced the striker to train on his own, has told the striker that he must apologise before he is allowed back into the first-team fold.

Expect a few more twists and turns before the transfer window closes on September 2.

Discrimination?

A former executive is suing the Chivas USA team, claiming she was the target of discrimination because she wasn’t Latino and couldn’t speak Spanish.

The Torrance Daily Breeze reports the suit was filed in Los Angeles by former human resources manager Cynthia Craig.

The suit says Craig left the Southern California team in July after repeated harassment by owner Jorge Vergara and team President Jose David.

Messages seeking comment from Chivas representatives weren’t immediately returned Thursday.

It’s not the first discrimination lawsuit against Chivas.

Two former youth coaches sued the Carson-based team in May, alleging they were fired because they aren’t Mexican or Latino.

When it was established, Chivas USA was intended to be seen as a “little brother” to its parent club C.D. Guadalajara, one of the best supported and successful teams in Mexico. Its support in Los Angeles comprises mostly Spanish speaking Latinos. On the surface, it would not appear unreasonable to expect club employees to be able to speak the same language as the vast majority of the club’s followers.