Winter World Cup moves a step closer

The prospect of a winter World Cup in 2022 moved a step closer after European football chiefs agreed a summer event could not be played in Qatar.

UEFA’s 54 member associations backed the switch at a meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

“The World Cup cannot be played in Qatar in the summer,” said FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce. “Everyone was certainly in agreement about that.”

Boyce added that the debate was now whether the tournament would be played in January of 2022 or in November and December of that year.

FIFA favours the tournament taking place during November/December, while UEFA and British associations want a January staging of football’s showpiece event to not disrupt the Champions League nor their own domestic programmes.

Boyce says the associations do not want FIFA to rush that decision.

“There is still nine years to go and people feel FIFA should sit down with all the major stakeholders and come up with a solution that would cause the minimum disruption to football,” he said.

“There is plenty of time to do that in my opinion.”

Although the news will be welcomed by FIFA chief Sepp Blatter, domestic leagues around the world are likely to be thrilled at Thursday’s news.

The English Premier League declined to comment, but chief executive Richard Scudamore said last month that a winter World Cup would be too disruptive and was adamant the tournament could go ahead in the summer.

Match fixing latest

The Italian prosecutor leading an inquiry into international match-fixing said he would like to question the suspected mastermind arrested in Singapore.

Tan Seet Eng, widely known as Dan Tan, and the man reported to be he global network’s suspected ringleader, was among 14 people taken into custody in Singapore in what appears to be a significant breakthrough in the battle against corruption.

”It’s big news,” Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino told The Associated Press. ”It shows that our inquiry means something on an international level.

”Now we need to explore the diplomatic channels to see what we can do,” Di Martino added. ”I’m not sure if our treaties permit (extradition). Plus, these arrests appear to also be linked to their (Singapore’s) own investigation. Others have been arrested, too, including women, that don’t appear to have anything to do with our inquiry. I think there are some elements from our inquiry involved, and some from theirs.”

Singapore police and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau said in a joint statement that authorities arrested 12 men and two women in raids lasting 12 hours across the city-state.

Interpol, the police body based in Lyon, France, confirmed the arrests in a statement released late Wednesday.

A high-level police official told the AP  on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the detention publicly. Prosecutors in Italy have accused Dan Tan of coordinating a global  syndicate that made millions betting on fixed Italian matches and other games across the world.

”He’s the leader, the general director of the ring,” Di Martino said, adding that his office sent an international request for Dan Tan’s arrest ”three or four months ago.”

The police official added that Dan Tan’s arrest was the result of a months-long investigation in Singapore by authorities there and was not in response to arrest requests from foreign law enforcement bodies.

Di Martino has heard nothing from Interpol or anyone else over the arrests.

”I’ve had no official communication,” he said. ”Nobody told me officially that Tan Seet Eng was arrested. But that’s evident from what is written in the Interpol statement.”

The Singapore authorities did not formally name any of the people taken into custody, but said the ”suspected leader” and several others wanted in other jurisdictions for suspected match-fixing were among those in custody.

The Singapore police statement said the suspects are being investigated for match-fixing offences under Singapore’s Prevention of Corruption Act and for involvement in organized crime.

Everton first club to back anti-homophobia campaign

Everton have become the first Premier League football team to announce that its players will wear rainbow laces in support of an anti-homophobia campaign.

The laces have been distributed to every footballer across all 134 professional clubs in the UK. Each player is asked to wear the laces in their  fixtures on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September. The campaign’s message of “Right Behind Gay Footballers” is designed to improve attitudes and make football more gay-friendly.

England defender Phil Jagielka said: “For me and the rest of the lads at Everton a player’s sexuality is not important, but their ability on the pitch is.

“We don’t tolerate discrimination of any kind at Everton and the whole club works hard to get that message out to the fans.

“No one should feel that they can’t be themselves – on or off the pitch – so that is why we are supporting this initiative.”

Bernabeu due for an upgrade

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has confirmed that the club will shortly unveil their plans for the redevelopment of the Santiago Bernabeu.

Back in October last year, Real revealed four individual plans for the renovation of their stadium.

The Bernabeu was opened in 1947 and has already undergone two major upgrades. The first came in 1982 for the World Cup hosted by Spain and the second in 2001 to extend its capacity.

It is currently the third largest stadium in Europe, behind Barcelona’s Nou Camp and Wembley. The capacity currently stands at 85,000, and the plans will look to increase that even further.

“I want a stadium that doesn’t look like a stadium and is profitable” Perez told reporters.

In which case, he could seek inspiration from the old Wembley stadium and turn it into a toilet.

“The redevelopment will cost between €300million and €400m,” Perez added.

“The winning project will be awarded in the next few weeks.

“It will provide the stadium ‘with an outer skin that will be a crowning architectural achievement.”

“‘The Bernabeu has to become a unique stadium, the best in the world, and the crowning achievement of 21st Century stadium architecture.”

Klopp loses his cool

You may be familiar with the theory of us being just 9 meals away from anarchy. With football managers a similar process exists whereby one or two decisions going against them can result in them losing the plot.

Take Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp, a man noted for his equable temperament and good sense of humour, who demonstrated a hitherto unseen rage after goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller was sent off in the 2-1 defeat to Napoli.

The German boss reacted to an earlier incident involving Neven Subotic, saying: “In that moment I perceived the situation with Neven Subotic differently as it was. I thought the referee should have waited for Neven to come back. But he didn´t have to do that.

“Neven could have come on earlier but was held back because there was a little bloodstain on the plaster. I apologised straight after the game to the fourth official, the referee and my team as my emotions turned a game we didn’t play well in into a hectic one.

By the time he spoke to the press, Klopp had calmed down sufficiently to concede that his behaviour had left something to be desired.

‘The second half with a man down was okay. On good days, when the coach keeps his cool, we might get a result. Our start wasn’t best, mine included. Had we played to our level we could have won the game.

Goal of the day

Lorenzo Insigne was on target with a wonderfully struck free-kick in Napoli’s 2-1 Champions League win over last season’s losing finalists Borussia Dortmund.

Quote of the day

“There was a player on the pitch yesterday who the President wasn’t able to sign, otherwise he would. A certain Gennaro helped Napoli win.”

The Archbishop of Naples believes the city’s patron saint, who is celebrated each year on September 19, had a part to play in Napoli’s win over Borussia Dortmund.

Sing when you’re winning

Manchester United will introduce a 1,400-seat singing section for the Champions League home game against Spanish side Real Sociedad on 23 October.

Historically, one of the louder grounds in England, noise levels at Old Trafford have long been a source of embarrassment for the club’s own supporters and one of ridicule for opposition supporters.

The club scrapped an earlier attempt at the venture after police refused to allow away fans to be relocated to the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand’s third tier.

The singing section will be in the south-east corner of the ground.

Sociedad’s travelling fans, who would normally be housed there, will instead be in the East Stand.

United midfielder Michael Carrick wrote on Twitter  it was a “great idea”.

United are backing the plan after employing acoustic engineers earlier this year in an effort to increase noise levels.

They acted after supporters in the Stretford End complained that the noise they were making could not be heard elsewhere in the ground.

Dale O’Donnell, creator of fans’ website Stretty News, is one of those who has campaigned for a singing section. “The atmosphere for some home games can resemble a library and we want to change that,” he said.

The yolk’s on Jose

Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho was, understandably, the butt of may egg-based jokes following his side’s 2-1 home defeat to Basel on Wednesday.

Mourinho’s description of his Chelsea players as “beautiful, young eggs” came back to haunt him as the English media appeared to take profound satisfaction in the defeat of the big spending club and their loud mouthed manager.

Mourinho has egg on his face” and “Mourinho shell shocked” appeared in more than one paper, while Thursday’s Sun went for “Rotten Eggs” as the media heaped blame on the Portuguese manager for Wednesday’s 2-1 home defeat.

“Do I have egg on my face? Of course,” said Mourinho afterwards. “I’m the manager and responsible for everything. The bad results and bad moments.

“But I think the team is probably not a team with such maturity and personality to face the difficult moments of the game.”

The best joke doing the rounds was the one about Chelsea enjoying an excellent start in their defence of the Europa Cup.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that Mourinho has used eggs as a metaphor for the state of his team.

In his previous spell as Chelsea manager, Mourinho spoke of eggs and omelettes. Within two days he had been sacked. Let’s hope that’s not an omen.

New look for Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho has undergone a tooth correction procedure at a dentist in Brazil and shared the results via youtube.

The procedure – which reportedly cost £36,000 – means that the Atletico Mineiro forward no longer sports the bucktoothed grin that football fans came to know over the years.

Ronaldinho’s trip to the dentist coincided with an interview he gave to Brazilian Playboy, where he has insisted it’s not just his teeth that have changed: “I’m now in love,” he said.

“I have girlfriend and I now have a much quieter life. In the past I was often unfaithful, but I have no intention of making the same mistake now.”