Public mood changes

FIFA president Joseph Blatter and other football authorities have played down the protests that are taking place all over Brazil during the Confederations Cup.

As many as 200,000 demonstrators marched through the streets of Brazil’s largest cities on Monday in a growing wave of protest caused by widespread anger at poor public services, police violence and government corruption.

Public opinion has turned against hosting the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, saying the country cannot afford it, while people are unhappy paying high taxes for poor transportation, health services, education and security. The catalyst for the current protests is believed to be a price hike in bus fares.

“For many years the government has been feeding corruption. People are demonstrating against the system,” said Graciela Caçador, a 28-year-old saleswoman protesting in Sao Paulo. “They spent billions of dollars building stadiums and nothing on education and health.”

The president of football’s governing body, who spends 365 days a year locked in a FIFA bubble, allowed out only to open and close major football tournaments, believes that the protesters demands will get less attention as the tournament progresses.

Showing scant regard for the concerns of the protesters, Blatter told O Estado de S. Paulo about the situation: “Football is stronger than the unhapiness of the people.

“I told Dilma Rousseff and [Minister of Sports] Aldo Rabelo that we trust them. Once the games start, people will understand and all of this will stop.”

Next stop for Blatter, the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in…Turkey.

Insulting their intelligence

Newcastle United’s new director of football Joe Kinnear has further endeared himself to the club’s fans by insisting he is more intelligent than them.

A section of Newcastle fans expressed its disapproval of Kinnear’s arrival at St. James’ Park, but the the 69-year-old refuses to accept the criticism coming his way.

“I don’t know what angle they’ve got, if they want to sit down and argue with me,” said Kinnear. “Some are talking out of their backsides, a load of tosh and I’m not accepting it. It’s as simple as that. I have certainly got more intelligence than them, that’s for sure.

“They keep saying to me ‘What did I do?’ Where have these people been, have they been on another planet? I’ve played in five cup finals and won the lot. I’ve played over 400 games for Tottenham, I’ve been manager of the year three times, I’ve travelled the world as a manager.”

Well, strictly speaking, he was manager of the year once, and as for travelling the world, well, spells in the 1980s in the UAE, India and Nepal, hardly constitute a seasoned traveller.

Incidentally, Kinnear, during his previous spell with Newcastle in 2008-09, recalled his time in Nepal. He explained he had needed to leave that post in a hurry after the crown prince shot the king and queen. The shooting of the prince’s parents happened 14 years after he had left the country, by which time he was managing Luton Town.

During his Talksport conversation with Andy Goldstein and fellow former Wimbledon manager Bobby Gould, Kinnear also claimed responsibility for signing Tim Krul [a goalkeeper recruited by Graeme Souness] as well as James Perch [bought by Chris Hughton], said “Derek Llambezee [Derek Llambias, Newcastle’s managing director] had resigned as director of football [a position he has never held] and then listed the players of whom he had great hopes for the forthcoming season. These included Shola Amenobee (sic), Yohan Kebab (sic) and Hatem Ben Afre (sic).

Money for old rope

Andy Carroll is expected to have a medical tonight as West Ham prepare to conclude a deal which could cost them £46million.

The striker flew back from a holiday in the United States last night to agree a contract with West Ham reported to be £100,000 a week for six years.

The Hammers had already agreed a £15m fee with Liverpool, who have taken a big loss on the deal after paying Newcastle a British record £35m for the striker just two and a half years ago.

The fee and wages are noteworthy for two reasons. Firstly, the fee is a record for the London club and secondly, it was less than a year ago that the club’s co-owner David Gold attempted to persuade to introduce a wage freeze to prevent the Premier League slipping into financial ‘Armageddon’.

“Fifteen years ago we were paying 40 per cent of income on wages, now its 70 per cent. What happens when its 101 per cent… we will all go bust,” he warned.

“If it carries on the way it is, the my fear is that the indications are that it has gone from 40 to 50 to 60 to 70 then next year it could be 80, the year after 90 and we are heading for Armageddon, we are moving ever closer to the precipice.”

Thirty million on wages for Andy Carroll over the next few years and Armageddon looms ever closer.

Coming clean

Ethiopia football officials admitted they fielded an ineligible player in a World Cup qualifier against Botswana by mistake and said they would not appeal any FIFA disciplinary rulings made against them.

Ethiopia Football Federation president Sahilu Gebremariam said that Minyahil Teshome Beyene should have missed the match having picked up two yellow cards in previous qualifiers.

“We’re not going to appeal, it’s a management blunder,” he said.“We made a mistake, but we are leading the group and we need to concentrate on the future”

“We have accepted the FIFA discipline issue.”

Ethiopia are now almost certain to be docked three points, meaning South Africa would get a reprieve and may still be able to qualify for the 2014 finals in Brazil. Gebremariam remains confident that his side can still reach the play-offs.

“We made a mistake, but we are leading the group and we need to concentrate on the future,” he said.

“We’re very much motivated and we know we can qualify.”

He refused to blame any individual for the problem.

“The point is that collectively this is a federation problem,” he insisted.

Goal of the day

No one expected them to get a corner let alone score at the Confederations Cup, but Tahiti surprised everyone by hitting the target in their 1-6 defeat to Nigeria. The goalscorer was Jonathan Tehau, who also scored an own goal later on in the game, making him the first person to score at both ends in Confederations Cup history.

Quote of the day

I spend my whole life, picking up the phone, talking to Alex Ferguson, week in, week out. Pick the phone up at any time of day and speak to Arsene Wenger. I can pick the phone up and speak to any manager in the league, any manager in all divisions.”

Joe Kinnear explains why he is the right man for Newcastle. One does wonder how many times he goes straight through to answerphone.

Trial delayed

A trial involving French international duo Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema on charges they solicited an underage prostitute has been adjourned until January.The two players face potential prison terms of up to three years each if convicted.
Zahia Dehar claims Ribery flew her to Munich as a birthday present to himself in 2009 when she was under 18. She says she lied to the players and told them she was an adult.

Ribery’s lawyer, Carlo-Alberto Brusa, says Ms Dehar travelled across borders for paid sex and knew exactly what she was doing.

“In French law, it’s not forbidden to make love to a woman and even to pay her for it, what is forbidden is to do it with a minor,” he told the Reuters news agency. “When a woman travels around Europe by plane, can you imagine thinking for one second that she’s a minor?”

Dehar now 21, is a household name in France after she became fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s muse and protegee, before launching her own luxury lingerie line.

Under French law, paid sex with someone under the age of 18 is regarded as sex with a minor – punishable by three years in prison and a 45,000-euro fine.

Back seat driver

No sooner has he walked away from the job, than former Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes is offering tips to his successor, Pep Guardiola.

That kind of back seat driving never goes down well.

The 68-year-old has suggested the treble-winning side make a move for Spain Under-21 striker Isco in the summer transfer window.

The attacking midfielder is linked with a move to a bigger club following his fine performances for Malaga in 2012-13 and confirmed earlier this week that Manchester City and Real Madrid are keen to sign him.

Bayern has already secured the services of Mario Gotze from Borussia Dortmund and Jan Kirchhoff from Mainz for next season, and if it were up to Heynckes, the Spain Under-21 international would continue his career at the Bundesliga giant as well.

The 21-year-old has a contract with Malaga until 2016, but he has a 35 million euro buyout clause.

“Who should Bayern sign? There are some very interesting players out there, like Malaga star Isco. He’s a class act in midfield,” Heynckes told Kicker.

Done and dusted

Australia, Iran and South Korea won spots at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil on a dramatic final day of Asian qualifying Tuesday.

Australia beat Iraq 1-0 in Sydney, after Josh Kennedy scored with a header in the 83rd minute.

Iran won 1-0 at Ulsan, South Korea, and finished first in their group. South Korea secured second place on goal difference after finishing level on points with Uzbekistan, which won 5-1 at home against Qatar. South Korea is going to its eighth straight World Cup.

Uzbekistan scored all five goals in the second half in a thrilling finish that threatened to knock South Korea out of second place. But the Uzbeks ran out of time and finished third. They now enter a play-off against either Jordan or Oman.

The South Korea-Iran encounter was overshadowed by an extraordinary pre-match row.

South Korea’s promise to “make life painful” for Iran and to force their captain to cry “tears of blood” have raised the stakes before Tuesday’s clash at Seoul’s World Cup stadium.

The dispute follows South Korean accusations of ill-treatment during their visit to Tehran last October, with complaints including visa problems and poor training facilities. In a feisty encounter, South Korea lost 1-0.

“Our players all remember the poor treatment they got (in Tehran). I think we must make life painful for Iran,” Choi said last week.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz responded: “The South Korea coach should be ashamed of what he said. He disrespected the Iranian football. He must apologize to all Iranian fans before the match against us on next Tuesday.”

Thankfully, the match passed off peacefully with both teams progressing to next year’s finals.