Knives are out
The knives are out for Sepp Blatter, and most of the opprobrium raining down upon the FIFA president originates in Germany.
German Football Association (DFB) President Wolfgang Niersbach said that he and his colleagues were hugely alarmed by the scandal involving FIFA’s one-time marketing partner, ISL.
“I’m speaking for the entire board of the DFB when I say that we are appalled,” Niersbach said during a referees’ convention in south-western Germany.
“It is a shocking fact.
The President of the German Football League (DFL), Reinhard Rauball went as far as to suggest that Blatter should now step down.
“For a reform process to take place, FIFA needs someone who is prepared to make a new start,” he told Die Welt.
“These things, which for years have wafted around as speculation, as rumour and suspicion, have now become official.
“You might well class me as naïve, but until the moment of the official announcement I was not able to believe it.”
Naive, gullible, incurious, all these things.
Never one to take any criticism lying down, Blatter has responded to the comments made by the German duo by hinting, alebit obliquely, that there was something fishy about the decision to award the 2006 World Cup to Germany.
The Oceania president, Charles Dempsey, quit the meeting before the vote which thus tilted by one vote in favour of Germany against South Africa, the country that Blatter had campaigned for.
Recalling the vote, Blatter said: “Maybe I was too relaxed and naïve about what happened.”
There we go again, that word ‘naive’. We’re being expected to believe that some of the most powerful men in world sport are actually credulous innocents, capable of having the wool pulled over their eyes by manipulative, yet unseen forces.
“When we talk about a World Cup being bought, I remember back to 2006 where, at the very last moment, somebody left the room and, instead of having a vote of 10-10, it finished 10-9 for Germany,” added Blatter.
“I am pleased because I did not have to cast a deciding vote but for somebody to suddenly leave the room – maybe I was too kind or too naive at the time.”
Blatter was asked: Did you think the 2006 World Cup had been ‘bought’?
He replied: “I am not speculating about anything, just making an observation.”
The worst kind of observation. Making a direct allegation is one thing, but at least it requires the accuser to produce evidence to back up his assertions. But to merely allude to wrongdoing, frees one of those obligations. It’s a cowardly way of tarring a person but as such, entirely in keeping with Blatter’s modus operandi.
But, you don’t need me to tell you that, Franz Beckenabuer, who was in the room at the time, is on hand to clarify what actually happened all those years ago.
“I cannot understand the remarks and suggestions of Sepp Blatter,” he said.
“He has even got the result wrong,’ he Bild. “It was 12-11 and not 10-9.
“And what was decisive was that the eight Europeans all united behind us and voted for us.”
The Capello fits
The Russian Football Union (RFU) has appointed Italian coach Fabio Capello as new national manager.
“Today we have decided to name Fabio Capello as the manager of Russia,” RFU vice-president Nikita Simonyan told the Itar-Tass agency.
“We are now waiting in Moscow for the finalisation of the remaining details of the contract before he signs.
“Once (Capello) and his representatives arrive, we believe they will sign the contract. I think it will happen on Wednesday or Thursday.”
The hugely experienced Capello was top of a lengthy shortlist that comprised 13 candidates, most of whom would have sold their own mothers to jump aboard this particular gravy train. The sense of farce was compounded by Capello flying to the country last week only to be refused entry because he did not possess the correct visa. Here, clearly, was a man in a hurry.
Capello was reportedly forced to stay in the airport on arrival waiting for several hours while RFU officials finalised formalities to grant him a Russian entry visa.
To say he was keen to discuss the reputed 6-year, £35 million deal, is something of an understatement.
Goal of the day
David Beckham rolled back the years to score two trademark long distance goals in LA Galaxy’s 4-1 win at Portland Timbers. The second was a regulation free-kick struck from just outside the penalty area, but it was the first, from open play, that took most of the plaudits.
Quote of the day
“When you have a sausage pulled away from under your nose, they will eventually snap and bite. I think our players are ready to go, with that reason, if nothing else, motivating them from the start.”
Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes his players are ready to bite the sausage. I think (hope) the sausage is a metaphor, intended to represent trophies that they narrowly missing out on last season.
While Paris Saint-Germain look to complete the signing of Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to add to their groaning collection of new arrivals, the rest of France looks on aghast as the scale of their summer spending spree becomes apparent.
Lorient coach Christian Gourcuff has criticised the club’s economic model, branding it “a danger to world football”.
“This a big problem in world football,” he told RMC Sport. “Clubs are now living through the provision of patrons.
“This is a danger to football. Paris [Saint-Germain] do not inject funds directly into French football. We have to talk about financial balance.”
Meanwhile, further censure comes from former France international, Vikash Dhorasoo, who could scarcely believe how much PSG were intending to spend.
“We died laughing. 30 or 40 million euros transfer fee for a player of 31 years, what!”
Dhorasoo was critical of his former club, comparing the owners lavish expenditure to someone with no knowledge of vintage wine.
“Yes, Qataris can buy what they want. Even human beings. The man may as well be named Zlatan, Kaka, Tevez, they do not care. They just want them to be expensive. They are like the guys who know nothing about good booze”, he added.
To be fair to the Qataris, they are teetotal.
One club’s misfortune…
The Scottish Premier League has invited Dundee to play in the top division to replace Rangers.
Dundee, who finished runner-up in the second tier last season, were chosen ahead of relegated Dunfermline at the SPL’s annual general meeting.
Dundee’s chief executive Scot Gardiner said: “We were always confident that, on sporting merit, it would be us, but we have been in limbo for a few weeks and, only now, can we start to plan properly for the SPL.
“We have a very good squad of players and can now add to that squad.”
There’s a few bargains to be had at Rangers if you want to recruit locally.
Airdrie United, who were runners-up in the end-of-season play-offs, are expected to be invited by the SFL to replace Dundee in the First Division, while Stranraer, who lost out in the Division Two play-off, should move up to replace Airdrie.
Rangers, meanwhile, will open their campaign against Brechin City in the Ramsdens’ Cup. In case you’re unaware, and with delicious irony, Ramsdens is a chain of pawnbrokers.
When in Rome
New Roma midfielder Michael Bradley has promised to repay the faith shown in him by coach Zdenek Zeman.
“Thank you Roma. I will repay you,” the 24-year-old told the Corriere dello Sport.
“I am one who never gives up. Anywhere in midfield, I know the idea Zeman has [for the team]. I want to play an important part immediately.
“I am very happy to be able to play at Roma,” Bradley told asromanews.it. “This chance only comes once in a lifetime. This club believes in me and I have proved that I am worthy of wearing this shirt.
Bradley became only the third American player to play in Serie A, and the first since defender Alexi Lalas in the 1990s, when he joined Chievo last year, signed a four-year deal. The other United States player to have played at this level is Armando Frigo, who represented Fiorentina during World War II.
Trial: no end in sight
Antongate, or is it Terrygate, continues to rumble on. There have been calls for the FA to charge the pair for the insulting language that led to last week’s court case. Reminded that they punished Liverpool’s Luis Suarez for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra last season, there has been pressure to investigate the nature of the exchange between Terry and Ferdinand.
Although Terry was acquitted of racially abusing Terry, the FA can still punish him because of a different burden of proof.
Meanwhile, away from the court case itself, Anton’s brother, Rio, has been forced to defend himself after he published a tweet which referred to Ashley Cole as a “choc ice”.
Chelsea defender Cole acted as a defence witness for his team-mate and captain Terry during the trial. The term “choc ice”, commonly understood to mean “black on the outside, white on the inside”, was used in reference to Cole in a tweet sent to Rio Ferdinand on Saturday.
Ferdinand responded in a tweet: “I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic! hahahahahahha!!”
Ferdinand defended his response to a tweet which referred to Cole as a “choc ice”, claiming that rather than being a racist term it is used in reference to “someone who is being fake”.
Saturday’s Twitter row drew a response from Cole’s lawyers: “Ashley Cole has been made aware of the discussion following comments appearing on Twitter and wishes to make it clear that he and Rio Ferdinand are good friends and Ashley has no intention of making any sort of complaint. Ashley appreciates that tweeting is so quick it often results in off-hand and stray comments.”
There is a real sadness here in that Cole, who has suffered more than his fair share of verbal abuse since he moved from Arsenal to Chelsea in 2006, is clearly not the the sinner in this case.
Selling Carroll to Newcastle?
Nothing succeeds like failure and this nowhere more true than in the world of professional football where Andy Carroll, widely derided as a flop at Liverpool, is now the subject of a bidding war.
West Ham declared their hand last week, revealing their desire to take the striker on loan next season, while Milan, who are cash rich since agreeing to sell Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris Saint-Germain, are also admirers.
Now it’s the turn of Carroll’s former club, Newcastle United, to express an interest. An offer to take the forward on loan was rejected on Saturday, but now comes news of a £13 million bid. That’s £22million less than they sold him for 18 months ago, but £22million closer to what he’s actually worth.
Carroll is keen to fight for his place at Anfield, but new manager Brendan Rodgers clearly does not see a one-paced, 6ft 3in battering ram being compatible with the kind of sophisticated football he hopes to introduce at Anfield.