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Brazil a mistake

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Brazil might have been the wrong choice as host of the 2014 World Cup if the tournament is affected by more protests similar to those seen at the Confederations Cup.

Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians demonstrated during the warm-up tournament in June, demanding better public services and expressing their anger about the expense of staging the World Cup.

“If this happens again, we have to question whether we made the wrong decision awarding the hosting rights,” Blatter told German press agency DPA.

“We didn’t do a political debriefing, but we did emphasize the fact of this social unrest being there for the entire duration of the Confederations Cup.

“The government is now aware that next year the World Cup shouldn’t be disturbed. To me, these protests were like alarm bells. … We are convinced the government, and especially the president, will find the words and the actions to prevent a repeat. They have a year to do so.”

“It’s not we who have to learn lessons from the protests in Brazil – politics in Brazil have to do that,” continued Blatter, adding that “FIFA cannot be held responsible” for social problems in the country.

“The decision for Brazil was the best decision we could make. It was the correct decision, we stick to this decision.”

”First we have to complete the reforms, which are three-quarters done. I’ll then have to deliver the World Cup … the way the world looks now, I’ll say yes or no (to standing again) at the next congress in Sao Paulo in 2014.

“FIFA should be taken over by someone who can take over a FIFA which is not just financially healthy, which it is now, but which also has credibility.”

Brazil’s sports ministry sent out a statement after Blatter’s comments.

“The success of the Confederations Cup proves Brazil is the correct choice to host the World Cup,” it said. “As for the demonstrations, Brazil is a democratic country that guarantees its citizens full freedom of expression.”

A valid point, especially when one is being lectured by the leader of an organisation not exactly renowned for its democracy or transparency and until very recently, one mired in corruption.

Too much pressure

Juventus striker Carlos Tevez says there was “way too much pressure” to succeed during his time at Manchester City.

Presumably, he is referring to his time in Manchester and not Buenos Aires, where he spent much of his time recuperating from the ‘pressure’ of being asked to come off the bench in a Champions League encounter against Bayern Munich.

The 29-year-old ended his stay at the Etihad Stadium this summer, joining Serie A champion Juventus in June for a fee of around 12 million euros.

City failed to progress out of the group stages of the Champions League in consecutive seasons and Tevez believes pressure played it’s part.

“Yes, there was way too much pressure,” Tevez told CNN. “It came from everyone – the club, the fans. I think that too much pressure just hurts the team.

“What happened was that there was so much hype and pressure to be one of the giants of Europe and we didn’t do it. We dropped out in the first round of the Champions League on both occasions.”

Strange that, the club on whom the most money has been lavished in recent years, the English champions no less, and there is a pressure to succeed. Who would have thought.

Drone’s eye view

The Brazilian air force have released some amazing footage of Neymar’s opening goal against Mexico in the Confederations Cup, taken from an unmanned military drone.

For Neymar’s sake, let’s be thankful it wasn’t an American military drone – who knows who’d have survived the ‘collateral damage’ from that little sortie.

Homophobia? Nein danke

Fifteen representatives from German politics and sports have signed the “Berlin Declaration”, presented during a conference in the German capital. The subheading of the declaration reads: “Together against homophobia. For diversity, respect and acceptance in sport.”

Three German ministers – Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (justice), Hans-Peter Friedrich (interior) and Kristina Schroder (family) – were joined by representatives of the German Sports Foundation as well as the German Football Association (DFB) and presidents of several German clubs – including Bayern Munich’s Uli Hoeness and Martin Kind of Hannover 96. Kind, because he wanted to be there; Hoeness looking for time off for good behaviour as his tax case looms.

The Berlin Declaration campaigns against homophobia in football and is backed by Sport Bild. It was also accompanied by a guide called “Football and Homosexuality” released by the German Football Association. The guide will be sent out to all clubs as well as to the county associations.

However, during the conference on Wednesday some of the high-ranking signees of the declaration were absent. The German paper taz hit out at DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach, who instead “flew out to a conference followed by a golf tournament in Kitzbuhel at Franz Beckenbauer’s invitation – and to shake FIFA boss Sepp Blatter’s hand”.

“I would have loved to have him here,” Marcus Urban, a former professional who came out after the end of his career, told the paper.

The German Football League, DFL, has so far not signed the Berlin Declaration, along with 14 Bundesliga clubs, who could sign the declaration in a second phase, according to Aktion Libero, an alliance of German sport blogs against homophobia.

Successful appeal

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) have suspended Fenerbahçe’s two-year European competition ban.

The Turkish club said in a statement to the Istanbul stock exchange on Thursday that it was cleared to take part in the third qualifying round draw.

“The execution of the two-year ban from UEFA competitions given to our club by the UEFA (appeal) committee has been suspended by CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport),” Fenerbahce said.

CAS said on Wednesday it registered Fenerbahce’s appeal against UEFA, and was considering an urgent interim request to freeze sanctions. No date has been set for the full appeal hearing.

“This struggle will continue until the end and both the whole of Turkey and the world will see that Fenerbahce is in the right,” president Aziz Yildirim told the club’s television station.

In a statement to the Associated Press, UEFA said it would confirm the list of entered clubs on Friday, just ahead of the draw. Bursaspor are on stand-by to take any vacant Turkish entry.

The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body (CDB) ruled that Fenerbahçe would not eligible to participate in the next next three UEFA club competitions for which it would qualify. The ban for the third season was initially deferred for a probationary period of five years.

The club were investigated by UEFA for alleged match-fixing activities against this club and five club officials.

Yıldırım as well as board members Alaeddin Yıldırım, Mehmet Şekip Mosturoğlu, İlhan Yüksel Ekşioğlu and Cemil Turhan were put under investigation by UEFA.

Goal of the day

Wilson Pittoni’s injury time free-kick gives Olimpia a 2-0 lead over Atletico Mineiro in the first leg of the Libertadores Cup final. Not sure the goalkeeper will have appreciated the intervention of his team-mate, who withdraws from the wall just as the kick was about to be taken.

Quote of the day

“It’s basically a stupid thing to happen, especially for a newcomer, but we have all seen that Henrikh fits in here like a fist in your eye or a backside on a bucket.”

Borussia Dortmund’s ever colourful coach Jurgen Klopp reflects on the injury that will keep  new signing, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, out of action for four weeks.

Crown jewels preserved for safe keeping

FIFA and UEFA have lost an appeal against a European ruling that the World Cup and European Championships must be shown on free-to-air TV in the UK and Belgium.

In 2011, the European General Court said the the countries could keep the events on a list of “protected” events of national sporting interest broadcast for free.

It means the two tournaments cannot be sold exclusively to pay-TV firms such as BSkyB, which holds a near monopoly over domestic football rights.

FIFA and UEFA had appealed the original ruling, saying they could not sell the events fairly for their real value.

But the European Court of Justice – Europe’s Supreme Court – has now said the original decision in the General Court (formerly Court of First Instance) in 2011 was correct.

The court said it “dismisses the appeals brought by FIFA and UEFA in their entirety”.

Even if FIFA had won its case, World Cup finals games featuring Belgium, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would have remained free to watch, as would the opening games, semi-finals and the final.

But it was the other games that FIFA was disputing – and had argued that matches such as these should not be shown for free in the respective countries.

FIFA and UEFA had argued that the current set-up interfered with their ability to sell television rights at the best commercial price they could get in the marketplace.

However, the UK argued that all the 64 World Cup finals matches and 31 European Championship matches were an important part of the list of national sporting “crown jewels”, that have to be made available to the whole population to watch on terrestrial television. In Belgium, the rules apply only to the World Cup and public broadcasters VRT (Dutch) and RTBF (French) have the rights.

The court stated that European states were able to select broadcast events, “which they deem to be of major importance for society” and show them for free.

Otherwise it “would deprive a substantial proportion of the public of the possibility of following those events on free television”.

Tank top

The FIGC (Italian Football Federation) have launched an investigation into Atalanta’s Giulio Migliaccio after he was photographed driving a tank over two cars painted rival colours.

“Certainly there are curious ways in which fans act,” Damiano Tommasi, president of the footballers’ union, Assocalciatori, said. “Migliaccio has just arrived from Palermo and I don’t think he imagined they would have done what they did with that tank.”

The incident took place at the Festa della Dea, an annual week long celebration in Bergamo dedicated to their football club.

Two cars painted in Brescia and Roma colours were steamrollered by the tank, which had various players and fans on board.

“I only realized when the tank was going over them, and since I could not see because I was high up and at the back, I did not know that they had the symbols of two football clubs on them,” Migliaccio told the press.

“Even as an unaware protagonist, I’m very sorry for the incident.”

No Mata

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has insisted there is “no chance” the club will sell Juan Mata or David Luiz this summer.

The duo’s future at Stamford Bridge was recently cast into doubt after they were rumoured to have been offered as part of a deal to sign Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.

The Portuguese boss was quick to address the issue in his first press conference after arriving in Malaysia as part of the pre-season tour, responding definitively to questions as to whether he would consider selling either player.

“No chance. No chance,” he told reporters after arriving in Malaysia as part of Chelsea’s pre-season tour, before responding to whether the pair would still be at the club next season by insisting: “Yes. For me that’s enough.”

Mourinho also took the opportunity to remind international players that they cannot afford to sit on the bench this season if they are hoping to secure a place in next summer World Cup – the non-too-subtle subtext being that there was always a place in Chelsea’s first XI for Rooney.

“I always say to my players that when they are with the national team they don’t think about our club, but when they are with the club they have to forget the national team and give everything to the club,” he added.

“At the same time, normally players who want to go to their national team and play for their country, normally they must be first choice players for their clubs and be playing regularly. That’s the big motivation if you are thinking about playing at the World Cup.

“If they want to go to the World Cup and they’re second choice at their club, then they’re in trouble, they’re in trouble.

“I think it’s a crucial year for them. Many national team coaches are worried because they want players to play regularly for their clubs. They have to play for me to play for them. It’s a combination. They must share the situation.”

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