Australia threaten legal action

The row over Qatar’s staging of the 2022 World Cup shows no sign of going way with the latest twist in the saga seeing FIFA threatened with legal action by Football Federation Australia (FFA).

FFA chief Frank Lowy has demanded FIFA compensate Australia for the $43million they spent on their failed bid to stage the tournament.

Australia was one of five countries to bid for the rights to host football’s biggest tournament, only to be eliminated at the first round of voting despite the millions spent on their bid.

Qatar won the right to stage the finals, despite inspectors raising concerns over the country’s ability due to the summer heat. Now, amid talk of switching the finals to the winter, Lowry believes Australia should be financially compensated for the impact a such a tournament would have on the domestic game in Australia.

“Australia invested heavily in the World Cup process and the entire nation was behind the bid,” Lowy is quoted as saying by Four Four Two Australia. “Since December 2010 Australia has been careful not to let its misgivings about the process be interpreted as sour grapes.

“But now, with increasing speculation about a change that will impact on us as one of the bidding nations, and because our competition will be affected, we have made our position public.”

The A-League, the top division in Australia, would be directly affected by the change to a World Cup, and Lowy is worried about  the damage it may cause from a commercial standpoint.

“Our season takes place during the Australian summer to avoid a clash with other local football codes, a move that was necessary because the A-League simply could not get access to the high standard stadiums required as they were being used by other codes during the Australian winter,” he said.

“If the World Cup were to be staged in the middle of our A-League season it would impact on our competition, not just for 2022, but for the seasons leading up to and beyond that date. Clubs, investors, broadcasters, players and fans would all be affected.

“FIFA has an opportunity now to make the best of a bad situation by embarking on a transparent and orderly approach, unlike the process that led to the original flawed decision in December 2010.

“FIFA champions the notion of ‘Fair Play’ and that principle should apply to the decisions it makes in the coming months.”

The FFA’s call for compensation is likely to fall on deaf ears, however, after FIFA general secretary, Jerome Valcke, last week ruled out paying any compensation to leagues affected by moving World Cup to winter.

Barcelona in the money

Barcelona’s revenue is projected to rise to 509 million euros this season, the Spanish champions said on Tuesday, making the club only the second to cross the half-billion threshold after rivals Real Madrid.

Income for the 2013-14 campaign will be boosted by extra cash from sponsorship deals, as well as the sale of Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara to Bayern Munich, Toni Freixa, a spokesman for the Barca board of directors, told a news conference.

The club were targeting a post-tax profit of 36 million euros, he added.

“This is not a message of triumph, since it is still difficult to manage the club and we have to continue the policy of austerity,” Freixa said.

Having spent €59 million on Neymar in the summer, it is clear that Barcelona’s idea of austerity is not the same as the rest of us.

Freixa added that the construction of a new Nou Camp stadium or the renovation of the existing arena was under review.

Lies, damned lies…

To coincide with the return of the Champions League Blomberg Sports have set their experts to work on an algorithm to predict not only the outcome of all tonight’s matches, but also the winners of each group and even, at this early stage of the competition, the eventual winners.

As anyone who has ever placed a bet on a football match knows, the prediction of football matches, with all its many variables, is an inexact science and therefore trying to identify the tournament winners before a ball has even been kicked, is akin to picking the winning numbers of next week’s lottery.

But, credit to Blomberg Sports, who have attempted to make sense of the vast range of data available and developed an analytical model that can assesses the chances of each team. The model analyses recent and historic performances, transfer activity and the result of the recent Group Stage draw to produce an effective ranking for each participating club.

Once the rankings were set, Blomberg simulated the tournament 10,000 times to determine the probabilities associated with each team’s chances to qualify for the Round of 16, to win their group and to win the overall tournament. The algorithms underlying the model are designed to update the rankings as the season goes along. Bloomberg Sports will incorporate data from each week’s matches throughout Europe, as well as the domestic form of competing teams, resulting in up to date adjustments for the Champions League projections each week.

At the moment, the data gives Barcelona a better chance of winning win (21.3%) than 2012-13 winners Bayern Munich (18.9%). A strange conclusion one might think, given that the holders thrashed the Spanish side 7-0 on aggregate just four months ago.

If you wish to find out more about the model and look at more statistics than you can shake a stick at, then you should visit the Blomberg site. As well as the Champions League they also produce projections for the big 5 leagues in Europe.

They have also come up with a handy infographic that highlights the likelihood of the Champion League winner by country, with Spain the most likely and the UK more likely to provide the winner than Germany.


Fink sacked

Hamburg have sacked coach Thorsten Fink after their 6-2 defeat by Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

“We were not convincing in our games and we could not recognise any consistency,” Hamburg Sporting director Oliver Kreuzer said.

“I had a very good relationship with Thorsten and I hope it remains that way, but given the current situation, we decided yesterday to part ways.

“Rodolfo Cardoso and Otto Addo will coach the side this afternoon until further notice.”

Ex-Ghana midfielder Addo has been in charge of Hamburg’s Under-19 team since July.

“I am proud to have worked here for two years,” Fink told German radio station NDR. “I coached a great club. Now there is still time to reach their goals, even with a different coach.”

The 45-year-old Fink, who angered club bosses after leaving the team following the heavy defeat to join his family in Munich, had taken over in 2011 from Swiss side FC Basel.

After a bad start to the current campaign and heavy defeats to Dortmund and Hoffenheim, Hamburg are in 15th place on four points from five games, having conceded 15 goals so far.

Goal of the day

With a helping hand from Jonjo Shelvey, Liverpool debutant Victor Moses cut inside on to his right foot before firing in a low shot past Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm.

Quote of the day

“I have not yet decided what I will do in the future. I want to have a few additional months to think and will make my decision during or after the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and not before… I think it would be rather egotistic to make it a topic for debate or discussion now when football faces far more important problems than myself. Let us concentrate on the key current matters affecting the game affecting football. We will have the occasion to think about my future in the coming months.”

Michel Platini has yet to decide whether he will stand for election to become the next president of FIFA. Perhaps he is waiting to see what current incumbent, Sepp Blatter, intends to do.

Lack of trust

Carlo Ancelotti left his job at Paris St Germain because he felt he did not have the full trust of the management, the now Real Madrid coach has revealed.

There had been suggestions that Ancelotti, who led PSG to the Ligue 1 title last season, left the club because of an approach by Madrid. However, the Italian denies this, claiming that the decision to leave made when he felt he had lost the confidence of the PSG hierarchy.

“When I sign a contract, I usually hope to extend it and stay for a long time,” the Italian told L’Equipe.

“When I signed with PSG I believed in a project. New players were joining, a team was about to be built and this is something that takes time,” said the Italian who joined  Real Madrid in June.

“The first six months were good but the following year I understood that the management had changed their point of view. There was no project anymore just an idea to get results immediately.”

Ancelotti acknowledged being under pressure last December after his team conceded three defeats in five games. But after a 1-0 against Reims in March, he said he did “not feel the trust” of sports director Leonardo and president Nasser al-Khelaifi.

“It is true that we had payed badly. But I thought that after the good three months we just had, I would have a bit of tranquillity,” Ancelotti, who led PSG to the Champions League quarter-finals last season, said.

“The day after, I told Leonardo that I would not coach (PSG) at the end of the season.

“Everybody thought that I left because I had Real Madrid. This is not true. I made this decision, I don’t know if it’s the right one, but it had become too complicated at PSG.”

Justice done?

A sports tribunal has thrown a fourth-division club from the Brazilian league after its masseur stepped onto the field and made two saves near the end of a match.

The tribunal also suspended masseur Romildo da Silva for 24 matches and fined him about $250 for helping club Aparecidense this month. For a piece of sporting immortality, it seems a small price to pay.

With the match against Tupi level at 2-2, Silva appeared from behind the net and entered the field and blocked two consecutive shots, allowing his team to advance to the competition’s quarter-finals.

Enraged Tupi players chased Silva from the field and police grabbed him for his own protection.


An FC Copenhagen fan has made a complaint to Danish police after the club cancelled Champions League tickets ordered by supporters with non-Danish sounding names.

“We believe it is a clear breach of racism legislation, of human rights and of the constitution,” Kashif Asmad told TV2 on Tuesday.

The club has said that it implemented the “security measure” to stop away fans from group rivals Juventus, Galatasaray and Real Madrid mixing with home supporters at the Parken Stadium.

Copenhagen host Juventus in their opening Group B game later on Tuesday.

Lawyer Pia Justesen said there was a good chance of securing a conviction against the club under anti-discrimination legislation.

“There is no doubt that, when criteria are set whereby persons with foreign names don’t have the same opportunity to buy tickets, it is discriminatory to ethnic minorities,” she told TV2.

Another Copenhagen fan Masoud Barid also had his ticket cancelled because of his name. He told Danish newspaper Ekstrabladet: “This is the most degrading thing I have ever experienced.

“I have no relationship to any of the three teams Copenhagen are due to play. I just want to go in and support my team.”

However club secretary Daniel Rommedahl denies that Copenhagen are discriminating against their own supporters.

He said: “Safety is always our main concern when it comes to events at Parken.

“Therefore we make every effort to ensure that fans of our guests only have access to the away section.

“We were fully aware that our decision would cause a reaction, but it was he best solution. We are aware that everyone will not agree, but discrimination it is not.”

Perhaps not, but one can see why some people might think it is.

Player dies

FC Zorya Lugansk of the Ukrainian Premier League have confirmed that that 24-year-old defender has Maksym Bilyi died of what is believed to be a brain tumor.

Bilyi died of a “long and protracted illness,” according to a club statement. “All of us have always known Maksym as a very good man, a decent family man and a loyal friend. FC Zorya expresses its sincere condolences to the family and relatives of Maksym.”

Maksym Ivanovych Bilyi made his final appearance on December 11, 2011, against Metalurh Donetsk, coming on as a 46th-minute substitute in a 3-0 defeat.

A head-to-head collision in that match left him complaining of constant headaches. Although it was never made public, rumors in the Ukrainian press circulated that Bilyi had developed a brain tumor.

In the 2011 UEFA Under-21 Championships, Bilyi scored Ukraine’s only goal, providing the only bright spot in a painful three games for the team.

But he never played again after his collision in 2011, spending time in hospitals in multiple countries, seeking treatment for his tumor, according to reports.

Bilyi, born April 27, 1989, in Novomoskovsk of the former Soviet Union, is survived by his wife and two young children.


Another day, another incident of racism in Italy. This time it’s Inter fans who have been found guilty of making racist chants following their 1-1 draw with Juventus on Sunday.

As a result, Inter’s Curva Nord will be closed for one League game as punishment for the racist chants aimed at Juventus on Saturday evening. Inter were also fined €15,000

The disciplinary commission took the decision today after the Juve duo of Paul Pogba and Kwadwo Asamoah were subjected to taunts from certain fans in the second tier.

That section of the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza will thus be closed for the Week 5 Serie A tie between Inter and Fiorentina.

It’s the third time this Serie A season that a squad will play with part of its stadium closed due to racism. Lazio were handed the same sanction for their opening match against Udinese after racist chants in the Italian Super Cup against Juventus, while Roma were also penalised for their second match of the season after racism from fans towards  Milan players at the end of last season.

Last season Inter were fined £38,000 by UEFA for the improper conduct of their fans during a Europa League game against Tottenham at the San Siro.

Monkey chants were reported during the second leg of the round-of-16 tie on 14 March and an inflatable banana was seen in the crowd.

I suppose the absence of inflatable bananas this season could be construed as a sign of progress.